A handmade gift is one that we as yarn artists hope will be cherished for years, if not generations, to come. But what if the handmade gift that you worked so hard on gets thrown out, given to pets to play with or even go to the thrift store as soon as you leave?
We have just the answer! Here are nine do’s and don’ts to help you choose the perfect handmade gift for your family and friends.
1. Do find out what their favorite color is
It’s always a good idea to find out what a person’s favorite color is before you start to make them something. The same principle goes for baby clothes or nursery/home accessories.
For example, find out if the parents are going to make the room one of the traditional colors, if they will use pastels or bright colors, etc.
This extra effort that goes into making an item in the right color, will make it much more special than if you just went with “I had this color in my stash”.
Don’t pick a random color that you saw them wear once
If someone wears black every day, they may not appreciate getting a baby pink sweater, for example – no matter how beautiful or intricate the pattern is.
You can even just ask whether they like neutral colors, bright colors or pastel colors and take it from there.
2. Do find out if they wear or use the item you’re planning on making – don’t assume everyone wears nose warmers or toe socks
While there are very few people who don’t like gifts, most would agree that they prefer getting something they can actually use (and like) than just getting gifted any old thing.
If you’re planning, for example, on making someone a pair of mittens, take the time to make sure that they don’t prefer gloves or even fingerless gloves.
Often you’ll find that people when they see you working on something, will comment that they would really like one as well — that’s the perfect time to find out what their favorite color is as well!
If you look at the KnitPal kits that are available, for example, you can see that there are definite designs that will appeal to certain people but maybe not to others, while some patterns (for instance this game day satchel) will appeal to almost everyone.
3. Do use the best materials you can afford — don’t try to make the item as cheaply as you possibly can (and knowingly use bad quality materials)
While not everyone can afford to buy top-notch yarn for every project they do, it is always better to spend as much on the yarn as you can.
There is more than one reason for this; not only will the item be more durable, but it will (most likely) be nicer to the touch as well.
4. Unless you’re 100% sure, leave humor out of it – don’t assume everyone shares your sense of humor
While there is a trend to make especially embroideries that have less than savory quotes on them, not everyone will find them funny or want to hang them in their homes.
That’s why our fourth tip is to rather leave the humor for another time (or for the card…). Unless you’re very sure that your humor is the same sense of humor that the recipient of your gift has!
5. Do make a swatch and test your gauge until it’s 100% - don’t assume that every yarn and needle or hook will give you the perfect gauge
That’s it. We’ve said it. Gauge. When it comes to your own garments and projects it’s still forgivable to not do a swatch, but if it’s a gift, rather err on the side of caution.
And rather get more yarn than you think you’ll need. The last thing you want is your yarn getting finished one row from the end when all the yarn shops in your neighborhood are closed (and the party for which the item is intended is the next day)!
6. Do give yourself enough time – don’t spend every waking minute working on your gift
Speaking of which, try to give yourself more than enough time to finish the project in. Even if it means starting Christmas gifts in February! The last thing you want to do is wrap the gift while it’s still on the needles or hook and then say “surprise!” and ask for it back.
7. Do give care instructions with the gift – don’t expect everyone to know how to care for 100% wool
It can be as simple as including a label from one of the skeins that you’ve used.
While 100% acrylic items are not as easy to destroy by simple washing, you don’t want your mohair sweater turned into a piece of felt because the recipient washed it in a washing machine in a warm wash!
If you want to, you can also make a pretty label on the computer (or draw one) that explains how the item should be taken care of.
8. Don’t tell the receiver of the gift what it cost to make (and make them feel awkward)
Yes, we know handmade gifts cost a lot, but that doesn’t mean you need to tell everyone at the festivities how much it cost you to make the gift.
9. Do enjoy the process – don’t choose a project that will make you hate knitting or crocheting for the rest of your life
The most important part of making gifts for people, however, is to enjoy the process of making them! For example, don’t choose an advanced pattern for your first knitting project just because it’s pretty.
And, remember, practice makes perfect!
What is your favorite handmade item to give to friends and family? Tell us in the comments!