Thursday, November 20, 2014


So you receive a 'homemade' gift from a relative. What is the first thing that pops into your mind? The pink bunny suit on A Christmas Story?

Did your Aunt Clara or your grandmother make you homemade things? Did you like them? Or just pull them out when she was coming over to visit, just to keep the peace?

My mother used to make things for the grandkids, mostly sewing. She loved doing it, picking out the fabric and patterns, she was very proud of all her creations. But she was very sensitive and you better show some appreciation for the gifts. 

My girls would receive a cardboard box shipped from grandma, they knew it was from her before seeing the label, the smell of cigarette smoke permeated the box. After opening it (sometimes outside) and running everything through the laundry, the girls always liked what they got. She would sew labels in the clothes like this:

Ok, I too am guilty. I am a granma and like to make things for the grandkids. Homemade Things. Which is interesting, thinking back to growing up and only having homemade things, I longed for store-bought stuff. And speaking of ancient times, my mom taught herself and me to knit when I was about 8 years old, my dad was stationed in Korea and we had a lot of time. I remember sitting on the couch in our house near Fort Bragg, NC, knitting little rectangles that would turn in to Barbie clothes. So there is the history lesson, now back to the present...

Since I am batchin' it here at home until Christmas, I have a lot of time on my hands, so I have been knitting and crocheting things for the grandkids, again. I know they probably already have too many scarves, but I just like to do it. Sure, by the time you buy the yarn and put in the hours you could buy the item at the store (or several of them). So why do we do it?  It is relaxing, it produces an end product (unlike playing solitaire or internet surfing), and just today I read this article:

I am multi-tasking - keeping up with my reading by listening to audio books and podcasts while knitting, and I just listened to the new Garth Brooks album. I don't knit well enough to do it while watching TV.

To get inspired to knit, I read books by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who shares her funny views on life and knitting and is known as the Yarn Harlot (her blog). The owner of our local yarn store calls her "the Erma Bombeck of knitting."

"A half finished shawl left on the coffee table isn't a mess; it's an object of art." ~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

For inspiration I turn to the plethora of online resources like Ravelry or Pinterest.

If when reading the pattern and confusion reigns, you no longer have to pull out the old dusty knitting books, just Google it, pick one of the many online videos and watch and learn. Just this week I learned how to make a Magic loop and how to long tail cast on. Yes, there is a knitting language to learn. 

So these days when I am not working at my real job, I will be working on gifts made of yarn. And surfing the internet for new ideas. Like these labels:

And I strive to dispell the dread and fear of receiving a handmade item and having to keep it forever 'because granma made it'. Please do not pack these things away for that only reason. Get it out, give it away, use it to wash the car or line the dog bed, get some use out of it. No, I won't get my feelings hurt, once I give it to you it is yours to do with as you want. So to that end, I am thinking of including an instruction card with any future gifts, what do you think:

does your crazy granny
really like to knit
are you tired of homemade 
gifts that don't fit

donate to the homeless
pass them on, give them away
she won't remember
what she gave you anyway

1 comment:

Sharon McCartney said...

Love your story. We had the same Grandmother Hanie. I have to this day knitted scarfs that still can wrap around me a dozen times. Yellow yarn must have been her favorite or was the big sale of the day. Everything she knitted for my sister or me was yellow with white accents.

My mother would send me Christmas decorations made out of egg crates, toilet paper holes and other left over stuff around the house. I even receive items not put together with a note, "ran out of time, you are crafty put it together and hang on your tree". I kelp all these items in the Christmas memory box. I hate to say the one to put together is still in the bag with the note...I could not figure out what it was meant to be when finished.

I only have grandsons. When they where babies homemade sewn gifts where from me to them with love.