I’m a selfish bastard. Or maybe I’m not, I’m not actually sure. Let me explain… There is an upcoming bonspiel for my office and I was asked if I could knit something as a prize. Now, I am sure you are thinking how I should be flattered that someone thought my knitting was worthy of being given out as a prize, and I am a bit flattered at that. HOWEVER! The way prizes work at our work events goes like this: items are placed on a table and names are drawn at random to come and choose a prize from the table. The items are generally donations they get from companies around the city (ie. a t-shirt with a Toyota logo on it) or leftover items from previous programs from within our work (ie. branded lunch bags left over from when they were trying to encourage employees to bring a healthy lunch from home.) The prizes aren’t all like this, but most are. So just imagine spending a bunch of time knitting something only to have it be grouped on this table of corporate leftovers. Kinda sad, right?
As I have said in the past, I have a real problem knitting for other people in part because I never think it is good enough to give away, but also because I worry it won’t be loved or appreciated enough to justify the time and effort I put in to making it. I did make my Knitted Sympathy hat but I knew it would be both used and very appreciated, so sometimes I do manage to successfully give away items I have knitted, but in general it is not something I am happy to do. I also think a lot of people gift people items they have made that are simply not appreciated. This isn’t a knitting specific issue, I think this is true of a lot of DIY/crafty type hobbies or really just about anything people are passionate about. Weddings are horrible for this. People forget that just because it is super meaningful for them that it may not be as super meaningful to others. It isn’t out of malice or thoughtlessness. It is just… realistic. So while my knitting is super meaningful and important and special to me, there frankly aren’t very many people who will appreciate it as much as I’d like them to, if you know what I mean. For a lot of people it would have similar value to them if I bought them a nice hat vs. knit them one. They would maybe like a knitted hat made by me, but if they would like a store bought hat just as much I am going to save the effort and just get them a store bought one. That way everyone is happy.
The work I use for this is “Knit-worthy”. I have a sort of mental set of criteria that determine whether or not someone is “knit worthy”.
- Dotheyexpressedly want a knitted item?
- Was it a sincere request or was it a “knitters like to be asked to knit something so I will ask them to knit me something even though it isn’t of interest to me” request?
- Have they commented on/complimented knitted items (especially knitted items I have made) in the past? Were those compliments unsolicited?
- Do you think they will actually use the knitted item, or will it get stashed away and never used either because the receiver has no use for it or because the person is scared of using it and ruining it?
- Will they notice/care about any mistakes in the knitted item? Will they care if it is imperfect? Will *I* care if I give them something imperfect?
- Will they understand and appreciate how much time and effort went in to it?
- Multiply the time the item takes to knit by 10$. Would I be willing to buy a gift for them costing that much?
For me to feel okay about knitting something for someone else it needs to pass most if not all of these questions. My step-son passes them all with flying colours so I knit for him without hesitation (like his Creeper Hat). My best friend also passed these questions as well which is why I knit her the Ski Bonnet, so she gets stuff. However, my husband who is very good about commenting on and complimenting my knitting has been (thankfully) honest with me about not particularly wanting a knitted item so I haven’t made anything for him. A couple times I have knit things for people at times when it didn’t pass these five questions and I pretty much have regretted it, so now I am much more stringent on my knit-worthy evaluations.
So needless to say, I declined to knit an item for the prize table at the bonspiel. I suspect my co-worker was pretty surprised that I said no, and maybe he thinks I’m a jerk, but I have better things to do than knit something that won’t be loved and appreciated.