Handmade Gift Futures

A few thoughts on the holiday gift-making season

I can’t find the word “crastinate” in Webster’s, but whatever its precise meaning, I’m in favor of it. You could call me a pro in fact. I’ve crastinated actively and skillfully in almost everything I’ve ever undertaken: homework, housecleaning, weeding, writing, even spinning and weaving.

Regarding the last, though, I’ve found a way to turn my fault into a virtue. Or at least the illusion of a virtue. Or at least a way to keep people off my back. Here’s how.

original_scratch-mapI love making things for friends and relatives. It’s a special way of keeping people in mind, especially if I’m anxious about them. I remember long, long knights knitting a complicated cable sweater for my daughter when she was traveling in Eastern Europe and Africa, not available by phone for weeks on end. I’m sure those stitches kept her safe. I remember spending weekends weaving afghans and other useless items for my son when he went far away to school in a big city. He didn’t get mugged (except once), and he graduated, so that’s proof that my strategy worked. The reality is that, though people seem to enjoy receiving the things I make, the process probably means more to me than the object does to them.

I started applying my penchant for procrastination to my love of making gifts a few years ago. One of my coworkers was going to have a baby, and I wanted to spin and knit a little cap for it. By the time her shower came around, I had only got the spinning done. So I gave her the yarn with the understanding that she would return it to me and receive a finished cap soon. The “soon” ended up being when the baby was about three months old. The effect was that she got two gifts!

It’s the Thought

WIPH_P052 (2)There are lots of ways to spin this process out even further. One year, I gave my son for his birthday a lovely black fleece, washed, carded, and dyed a dark charcoal green. For Christmas, he got a sweater’s worth of yarn spun from the fleece. Next birthday, a sweater! Which didn’t fit! By the time I had ripped out he bottom ribbing, lengthened it, put gussets under the arms, and gift-wrapped it yet again, it was time for another birthday. Four gifts from one project. It’s the thought that counts.

I admit it’s a racket. I’ve never believed in buying things on layaway or running up my credit cards or going into debt. Yet here I am dealing in handmade gift futures.

An alternative, I suppose, would be to just give away the raw material and be done with it. I had a great-aunt who used to do that—give me yardage for Christmas. It shifted the burden of procrastination to me; I don’t think I ever did get around to making anything out of those odd lots, but every time I looked in my sewing basket, I remembered her. I won’t say how. Keep this in mind as we approach the holiday gift-making season.

Pro .crast .in .ate vb [pro forward; in favor of; crassus gross, thick; or cras tomorrow; L ina, fem. of –inus, of or belonging to; Gk ate: reckless or excessive folly that drives me to ruin]

1. To be in favor of waiting until tomorrow to engage in reckless folly that will result in a gross thing. 2. To be driven to ruin by getting inthe thick of things.
                                   —from the Ligon Lexicon



Or, make it easy on yourself and give a fabulous book about traditional textiles!


1 thoughts on “Handmade Gift Futures

  1. Deborah Chandler says:

    This brings back memories of the year I gave you a large open-weave basket from Honduras. I had just come back from the Peace Corps, somehow managing to get that fragile basket home in tact. It was slightly aged by salt water, as it had floated up on the beach (where I found it) coming back from delivering the food a family had sent out to its loved one a year after they had died. When I was on the bus carrying the basket I got a lot of noteworthy looks, and once I learned the basket’s traditional use was mightily relieved to be assured that my taking the basket was not offensive, just odd and humorous. But what brings this to mind now is that I gave you the basket full of handspun wool yarn that I did not get made into anything for you so decided to cop out and just give you the yarn – which at least I had spun for you. I wonder if you ever used it… (or passed it on, which would also be okay.)

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