Gifts for Knitters:
The 2013 List
When most people think about giving gifts to knitters, the immediate thought is yarn. After all, we're always using it, right?
But yarn is the trickiest gift to give a knitter. Not only must you know his or her preferred color, but also texture, gauge, and even intended project size. No, it's far better to broaden your reach and consider other options.
Fundamentally, most knitters are actually pretty easy to please. Give us an attractive set of stitch markers and we're happy. Here are some more ideas for you.
Darning needles are always at the top of my list because they always have a way of running off when we need them most. A simple gift of the bent-tip Clover Chibi tapestry needles or the jumbo Clover Chibi darning needles (for those who mostly knit bulky items) would be most welcome.
Tools of the Trade
Needles are trickier. They're highly personal, rather like pens, and we have a ton of choices. But when in doubt, go for a symbolic gesture, something extraordinary like a set of lampworked glass circulars or glass DPNs from Michael and Sheila Ernst.
If you know for a fact that your knitter prefers the feel of metal needles, move on over to Signature Needle Arts. The question here is whether to choose the circulars, single-pointed straights, or DPNs—and you'll also have to choose the needle profile, ranging from blunt to stiletto. Say you just sold the family diamonds and want to make a big impression, you could spring the $300+ for the complete set of eight circulars, 10 single-pointed straights, or six DPNs.
Say your knitter loves the feeling of wooden needles, consider something out of the ordinary like a set of Montana Mountain knitting needles hand-turned and hand-numbered by woodworker Sam Bolton. Here you'll choose between single-pointed straights and DPNs, with a variety of wood types and needle lengths. They're all beautiful.
For the "ta-daa!" effect, check out the limited-edition Dreamz Interchangeable Circular Needle Set from Knitter's Pride, which comes in its own box rather like a set of fine silver. For some "ta-daa!" in the realm of metal, check out the Addi Lace Click Long Tips from Skacel. I use mine all the time.
A Case for Cases
Of course then we need something in which to store our needles. You could spend a whole day wandering the aisles of Etsy for a truly one-of-a-kind case. Didn't find anything? Hop over to Jimmy Beans and check out their offerings—including some gorgeous silk ones from Lantern Moon.
Let's not forget the perennial classic: a bag in which to store our knitting. Knitters and bags have enjoyed a healthy, if not fairly polygamous, relationship since the beginning of time.
Most of us reserve one bag for each project, some of us even dedicate a bag to projects that haven't begun yet. Considering the number of works-in-progress most of us have at any given time, we've got a lot of bags in play. Which means we could benefit from more bags. To hold more yarn. For more projects that haven't begun yet. It's a beautiful circle.
What to choose? Quite frankly, any bag can be a knitting bag. The world is your oyster, dear gift-giver. I personally don't think it's possible to own too many GoKnit pouches. The fabric is cheerful and indestructible, the drawstring construction promises never to snag on your knitting, and the bags are all sourced here in the U.S.
Savvy commuters may adore any of the Tom Bihn bags. Prefer some color, perhaps an Amy Butler bag may appeal or, if you hit the site on Thursday at 8pm EST, you may snag one of Martha's plush Green Mountain Knitting Bags. Finally, don't forget to stroll through Etsy and see what's there. (Hint: A lot. Also, start with Three Bags Full.)Ongoing Surprises
All these things are well and good, but what about a gift that keeps on offering up delights and surprises throughout the year. Something like a membership in Juniper Moon Farm's Yarn CSA or Foxfire Fiber's Sheep Shares Farm Yarn and Fiber CSA. In both cases you're paying a sheep farmer up-front for a portion of that year's fiber harvest.
Seeking a little more fiber, yarn, or color variety? Snatch up one of A Verb for Keeping Warm's yarn, fiber, or fabric clubs, or choose from Sweet Georgia's fiber, sock, or lace clubs. News flash: Cookie A's sock club just opened for 2013, and you can still snag a spot in Anne Hanson's Knitspot's Bare Naked club.
Is your knitter also a fan of spinning? Consider helping Jacey Boggs get her new magazine off the ground, giving your Kickstarter donation in your friend's name.
(I should note that the yarn option in my own Great White Bale is sold out, but you can gift an Armchair Traveler membership to your knitter, should you feel so inclined.)Beyond the Basket
What if your knitter has enough yarn, bags, tools, and packages arriving in the mail already? It may be time for something less tangible, a gift with an enduring effect on the lives of others.
How about a donation in your friend's name to Dr. Hawa Abdi's hospital, school, and refugee camp in Somalia? Or you could make a donation in your friend's name to Shining Hope for Communities, which operates a girls' school, clinic, water and sanitation program, and job training classes in a Nairobi slum. You might also donate a year of school for a girl in Afghanistan through the International Rescue Committee.
Perhaps animals are your knitter's soft spot? Run, don't walk, to Heifer International, which lets you enrich livelihoods and entire communities through the gift of an animal.
Last but not least, consider the ultimate intangible gift: time. When I was younger, I used to make personalized gift certificates for my friends, each one offering a gesture—a ride to the airport, a cup of tea, a uninterrupted rant on any topic of her choice—conceived specifically with that friend in mind.
Maybe your knitter has a problem working heels or darning in ends, or perhaps a shawl has been waiting to be blocked for two years now. Maybe your knitter simply seeks uninterrupted time in which to knit.
What if you offered to work that heel, darn in the ends, block the shawl—keep her company and cheer her on, or stand at the door and keep everyone else at bay? The coupon may never be physically redeemed, but that's not really the point, is it?What's on your knitting wish list?