What makes a knitted gift different from what we knit for ourselves? Technically speaking, very little—it's the same hat or socks or bag or pillow, it just ends up in someone else's hands. Choosing a pattern for a gift should, in theory, be a matter of opening up our favorite knitting magazine or book and browsing until we find something we like—rather like shopping for a gift, only with a little more assembly required.
But despite the fact that anything can, in theory, be a knitted gift, a few items tend to show up frequently in our gift baskets: hats, mittens, scarves, bags, socks, bookmarks, sundry cozies, and the like—items that don't require careful body measurements and custom tailoring.
The Gift Conundrum
Just like all the gift catalogs we get in the mail every November, we do have knitted gift pattern collections in print. But finding projects that we actually like, projects that are attractive and unusual and that will stand head and shoulders above any store-bought option—that can take more time. And alas, the impromptu nature of knitted gifts often means there isn't a lot of time to do the knitting. We need a great idea now.
A New Collection
Ann Budd—the same great knitting mind who brought us The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and who co-edited almost all of the Style series from Interweave—has just released a fresh new collection of knitted gift patterns. Fittingly called Knitted Gifts, the book covers a host of possible gift occasions, from babies to birthdays to simple gestures of love, for both women and men.
Not since Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (published in 2004) have I found such a tempting collection of gift patterns. Ann has assembled projects for the home and for the body—things like a splendidly elegant pair of velvet-lined slippers by Marta McCall, a sophisticated men's scarf by Véronik Avery, an adorable hobby horse by the author, a sweet lace scarf by Nancy Bush, and a colorful Fair Isle pillow from Kristin Nicholas.
You'll also find his and her socks, colorful but not over-the-top felted oven mitts, a ruffled wine bottle sleeve, a felted knitting bag with four separate compartments, quick little bookmarks, and several felted catnip mice that get extra points for their adorable feline model. And more.
These projects are classy—they may be whimsical when appropriate, but they're often also subdued and elegant, practical and pretty. They'll stand up tall against any store-bought gift, fitting examples of the full potential of knitted gifts.
And best of all, the projects are as knittable as they are attractive. The patterns are well-edited and easy to follow, the photography shows you quite clearly what you're doing, the layout is inviting, and the overall execution is clean and flawless.
Your New Friend
Nearly half of what I knit ends up in someone else's hands, and I have great appreciation for the difficulty in finding just the right pattern. It's so much easier when you can turn to one book and trust you'll find something. Knitted Gifts is that book.