My friend L planned to knit each of her children and their SOs hats this past xmas. She found appropriate patterns, carefully selected fine yarns, and set to work. But the projects were a bit beyond her skill level. I helped her (via email) through hat #1, which she knit about six times before getting a lumpy finished product. This struggle reduced her to tears, which she took to another friend, who asked her, "What are you really trying to give your children?" which produced even more tears. Her friend made L promise to put the knitting away until after the holidays.
But for those of us who force our knitted projects upon our loved ones, it is a very good question: What are we really trying to give them? And then there is the question of whether we give them what they want or what we think they should have. Or, in my case, what I just happened to have knit.
Sometimes I am knitting something I simply want to knit, because of the pattern, the yarn, the techniques, etc. If it is something I don't want/need for myself, should I try to force it onto someone else? Like the lime green baby hoodie I gave my hairdresser? (I still think she was pretending to like it. I haven't had the nerve to ask her if she ever actually used it.)
And then there is the surprise factor. I am learning to let go of expecting the recipients of my knitterly goods to be thrilled and to feel blessed with my largesse. At most, I hope they will use the item, and if not, will pass it on to someone who will appreciate it.
Sometimes things turn out better than expected, though. My son expressed an interest in having a pair of slipper socks, but he was not available to participate in the selection of pattern or yarn. I wasn't sure how he would like the ones I made, but he does like them, made good use of them this past bitter winter. I also knit him a scarf, hat, and fingerless gloves; those he has not mentioned.
When I signed up for a basic sock class, I decided the first pair would go to my daughter. She did not seem too excited about the prospect of handknit socks, until she tried on an unfinished one and it fit her foot very nicely. The same thing with a second pair that went to my SO; he raves about the fit. (Their blatant surprise over the fit grates a bit!)
But usually I bring home book after book from the library and force my loved ones to look through them, and rarely do I detect much excitement. That is, until my daughter saw Glamour Knits. "I like this. And I really like this. Oh, and I love this!" Hence, the lacy top that is giving me fits (so to speak!)
None of this has stopped me from starting a pair of socks, for a mystery recipient. And if the intended recipient does not like them, well, they will fit somebody.