Like The Queen
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Saturday, March 08, 2003  

"Blessed is he who gives without remembering, and receives without


I pulled this off KnitU's digest this morning. It really struck a chord for me. This issue of giving precious handknit gifts ... or any gift, really, is so fraught with hidden traps and dangers, opportunities for humiliation and revelation. I've tried to live by that motto ever since I gave DH a chain saw for his birthday which he rejected as if I had asked him to wear pink hair ribbons. I had never seen anybody reject a gift before. In fact, I thought the rule was, even if you hated it you were supposed to politely say "thank you" and either hide it or dump it when you got home. Of course, he had to go home with me so his task would have been a little harder but flat out rejection was a new one for me.

Gosh - that was 28 years ago. Well - somehow I was blind to a pretty important component of my husband's self definition - and he is very lucky that 20 years later when he gave me an ice-maker for the refrigerator - the refrigerator I bought precisely because it did not have an ice-maker in it - I just smiled and said thank you (though with a rather bemused expression on my face).

I have also decided I will not give knitted gifts that are also surprises. It’s not fair to either of us. I think I can dazzle my recipients with the finished project in spite of them knowing ahead of time what it is supposed to be/look like/be used for. This is not some arbitrary decision on my part, either, but a conclusion drawn from several years of humiliating gift giving debacles. I have handed over my precious efforts too many times to friends and family with dazed, glazed smiles or silly quips that betray their disappointment. And felt hurt - yet ... why should they be forced to like something they don’t - or rather, since that is an impossibility, why should I expect them to not only take this object off my hands, but also be able to act well enough to fool me into thinking they like it?

I remember as a kid that it was impossible to gush effusively enough to convince my family I liked something I was given. So gift time, especially Christmas, was usually very tense. Out of the heap there were surely to be things I did like, but I had to give equal display to each gift and some of them missed the mark by a mile.

When given the wrong gift it is so easy to question the devotion, love, care, understanding, even intellect, of the giver. And that’s not fair. If someone really plotted to give me an insulting gift, I hope I would have already figured out he didn’t like me and was just looking for an opportunity to get in a dig. And at this point in my life I hope I’ve pretty much winnowed those people out of my life. At least, they’re no longer on the gift exchange list.

I cope with the gift giving process in this manner. If I am going to surprise someone with a handmade gift - it will be consumable, likely from the kitchen. That way he can enjoy it or give it away but I won’t be looking or wondering if it is being used. I’ll expect it to be gone. If I want to make a knitted gift - or some other type of handmade item - I’ll consult with the recipient. We’ll work on it as a design team and then I’ll take over production. It doesn’t have to be a surprise, for goodness sake. If I love someone enough to spend that many hours knitting away on that many dollars worth of yarn - I also love him enough to not put him through the agony of pretending to like something he doesn’t.

The flip side of this giving stuff - the receiving - is handled this way. I always buy myself both a Christmas gift and a birthday gift. It will be highly personal. It may be rather expensive. It will almost always be either a book, or materials for making something. And it will sit upstairs in my bedroom, waiting to soothe any slight disappointment I may be feeling when the wrapping paper has been tossed.

Knitting stuff

I haven’t knit a stitch now since just after dinner on Thursday. I’d had wine with my meal and then tried to do the 3-needle bind-off on the gold sweater. Big Mistake . I’m also slightly torn over what I hope is the final issue. The back is 2-4 rows shorter than the front at the shoulders. I am wondering if I should put in 2 more pair of short rows between the shoulder blades. This would mean ripping out the left front shoulder stitches as well, since I’ve managed to knit the whole shoulder area without breaking the yarn. I don’t know why this is so pleasing to me - perhaps because Meg Swansen makes such a deal of being able to do it too. It wouldn’t be that much ripping and re-knitting. The reason I hesitate is that I’m not really sure that’s the best fitting decision for my body - to have shoulder height the same front and back. Aside from being on the ample side, my sternum bulges out instead of lying flat. I’ve always had to lengthen the shoulder front of my sewn garments. But when I tried the sweater on, having basted the shoulders together, there was a slight pull at the upper arms - and that might be relieved by lengthening the back a bit.

I’ll be riding in a car most of today, and knitting on Ben’s (darling step-son who will be visiting at the end of the month complete with really serious girlfriend!) socks, so I’ll let the matter cook. But by gum - that sweater gets finished this weekend - longer shoulders or not.

I’m also having the dickens of a time figuring out Barbara Walker’s top-down sweaters. Somehow I just can’t “hear” her instructions. But I am thinking I want a top-down cap sleeved sweater concept for my Ozeyarn mohair boucle.

As mentioned last night, I spent my lunch hour loading photos of the garden and when I’ve filled in all the text I will post a link to a virtual/time travel tour of my garden from 1997. I’m thinking I’ll also add a photo-record of all the changes that are supposed to go into the garden this year. Why would I expose myself so? eh. well. it’s that ENFP poking itself out of my psyche - I just can’t solve problems alone. If I go on display, though, I will finish what I start. If I think people are watching what I’m doing I’ll be sure to do at least a decent job. Stuff nobody sees I often don’t even bother to finish. It’s that external structure I need in order to come to completion.


I thought I'd comment on this since she has proved to be so popular. Or rather - I thought I'd comment on particular body shapes which come in and out of style. 'cause you gotta know I don't really look like the photograph - but I was trying to find a voluptuous body type in that magazine and I was rather surprised to find really only one type at all. The very long boned, ectomorphic shape. Now - I would love to have a body like that, at least, when putting on clothes. But those girls don't have any hips at all. They are almost a straight line from ribcage to thigh. It is a delicious shape to put clothes on to. But here they were really taking most of their clothes off. I was sort of looking for more curvaciousness (thinking of what my own DH likes in BoatBimbos) and I never did find a rounded shaped woman. Just the one body type. And it made me feel weird - to see only one standard of beauty.

Like the cover model on Fitness magazine. I will bet a month's pay it is the same body with a different head pasted on top (with a little more skill than I did).

Enough! The day is calling. Good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:44 AM