January 17, 2010

the philosophy of selfish knitting

Posted in knitting at 12:18 am by peachknits

Hello all.

I’ve been cooped up since mid-Friday with a nasty stomach virus that is, in a word, gross. I’ve since recovered slightly, at least enough to write a post.

Today I want to talk a little about selfish knitting.

I came across the philosophy of selfish knitting in a group on Ravelry. See, ever since other people–my mom, my sister, my friends, everyone–found out that I had taken up knitting, the requests started pouring in:

“Could you make me XXX?”

“You know, I’ve been needing a new XXX.”

“Now that you’ve made me XXX, make me XXX plzthx.”

At first, I was happy to oblige. I had started a new craft that I was proud of, and I wanted to show it off. The first Christmas after I began knitting, I made my sister a scarf, my mom a pair of socks, my aunt a cowl and my then-boyfriend a hat. I stressed over patterns, did more than ample research on each project, bought designer yarn, and knitted the items. All told, this process started in October and ended very early on Christmas morning, where I remember knitting feverishly in my closet at 4:00am before giving up and wrapping up the mostly finished scarf for my sister, needle still attached.

I remember distinctly my feeling of disappointment when I discovered much later that the very same scarf was worn maybe once or twice, then given away to someone else. The socks I had labored and obsessed over were subsequently washed (I can still picture myself in slow motion running towards the washing machine: “Noooooo! Not the wooooool!) and shrunken to a size not even baby feet could hope to fit into. Cry.

I’m not sure what fate befell the cowl. The hat, thankfully, was duly appreciated, and for all I know, could still be in active use.

I would like to note right now, before I sound like too much of a Grinch, that I do enjoy knitting for others. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone wear and cherish an item that you’ve poured time and love into. You can tell when they really, really love it. It’s when they don’t (i.e. discarding, mistreating, washing in hot water) that it starts to get old. So when I discovered the Selfish Knitters on Ravelry, I found myself totally relating to their philosophy.

The mantra of the Selfish Knitter (borrowed from the group’s page):

  1. We only knit for ourselves and for people who bless us and hand us boxes of expensive chocolates! Or money.
  2. Some people need to learn gratitude or face the wrath of our flinging needles of Death!
  3. Selfish Knitters are people who love and value themselves.
  4. The person I knit for knows how to appreciate a knitted item–ME!
  5. By uber-KALing, selfish knitters can multiply the amount of attention they get for each project.
  6. Everybody should be loved. But some people are greeting-card-love-worthy and some people are handmade-socks worthy.

So I decided to turn over a new leaf this past Christmas season. I would only knit a few Christmas gifts, and they would only go to people who truly valued them, and had demonstrated in the past that they knew how to take care of their knits, and thank me profusely for them. After all, knitting is a time-gobbling, sometimes frustrating, extremely involved hobby. You can’t just pick it up overnight and be great at it (in fact, I still consider myself a novice after three years!) You can’t just knit a scarf in an hour (okay, maybe, but only if it’s Cascade Magnum on size 17 needles). And if you’re any kind of yarn snob (and I so am), the costs are usually upwards of $20-40, or even more, per gift.

Being a selfish knitter isn’t easy. A lot of people in your life will assume that, just because you knit, you exist to knit for other people. That just isn’t true! Being a successful selfish knitter sometimes requires the ability to just say, blatantly, “No.”

So I’m working on it. I feel that I made some great strides this past Christmas, and the people I did end up knitting for were really grateful, and let me know it. Which made me feel really awesome. And now I have time to devote towards projects of my own…which is really the best part of being a selfish knitter in the first place!

A side note: if you’re a knitter and you’re not on Ravelry, I don’t know what you’re waiting for! It’s a wonderful, addictive site, filled with patterns, information, and resources for knitters and crocheters at every level of experience. Check it out.)

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1 Comment »

  1. Kaitlyn said,

    Just so you know I absolutely LOVE everything single thing you knit for me. I wear my cat hat and even use it as a costume! Even though I haven’t used my gloves yet you know I will.

    I always appreciate you and all your knitting!


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