These days, the gifts that resonate most seem to be those that stand in stark contrast to our artificially enhanced and technology-dominated world. Handmade items is not only a demonstration of how much you really care about another, it also gives you a good excuse to slow down each day, breathe, and concentrate on a creative craft.
Of course, many of us choose to make things for others that we would like to have ourselves! How better to judge an item’s worth than by your own appreciation? This can help you choose materials when you’re stuck and unsure of a recipient’s taste.
“Choosing yarn for gifts is really no different from choosing for yourself,” says designer Kat Goldin in her book CROCHET THE PERFECT GIFT. “Think about how the recipient is going use and wear the item, how likely they will be to hand wash (or not) and buy the best you can afford.”
Yarn has come a long way in recent years. An ever-expanding combination of weights and fibers is available with relative ease in your local yarn shop or online. Here are some of Goldin’s tips for choosing the right yarn for your handmade gift:
Acrylic yarn is inexpensive, and many of the newer varieties are soft to the touch and machine washable, making it a good option for giving. Note, however, that acrylic yarns often don’t wear well or last over time.
Most wool and wool-blend yarns available these days are soft enough to be worn against the skin. There are many machine-washable wool yarns on the market, which is key in a gift, particularly if you are giving your handmade item to someone who isn’t a knitter or crocheter. When it is machine-washable it is far more likely your gift will be worn or used time and again by its recipient.
Cotton and bamboo yarns are great for items that need a lot of washing.
Linen and jute yarns are good choices for projects that need structure.
Crochet and knitting patterns usually suggest a particular yarn that works well for the project in terms of weight, drape, and washability. However, you can always substitute an alternative. To ensure you are successful in substituting yarn, choose one with similar properties—for example, if the yarn called for is a 50/50 wool/alpaca mix, then start looking there. Of course you can substitute other materials if you have a strong preference, but that means you must really consider the other properties (such as drape) before investing in skeins that might not suit.
If you have questions about how a particular yarn will behave in your pattern or project, ask someone at your local yarn store for advice.
Kat Goldin’s CROCHET THE PERFECT GIFT is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
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Trafalgar Square Books, publisher of fine craft and equestrian books, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.