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August 18, 2005

Gifts for a Non-Knitter

So, I have a friend's birthday coming up in November and I'd like to knit something for her. She's a non-knitter and I'm really torn about what to make.

My first thought was a pair of socks -- but I'm not sure if she'd "get it". Would she think "Greeeeeat a pair of socks"? She's seen me working on socks but has never taken more than a casual interest in them.

So then I got to thinking maybe I should make a scarf. In something really really soft (cashmere? alpaca? silk?). Something luxurious that would feel great next to the skin. The scarf choices are pretty open. She wears a black leather jacket during the winter and a denim jacket for more casual days. But I'm really at a loss for something that would be both cool from her perspective and interesting from mine.

I've always thought Becky's pink cables and lace scarf was pretty. But would it have enough flair for a non-knitter?

I also considered a Clapotis because I think they're really wearable. But would she? I just don't know.

I'm taking any and all advice on the topic.

With one caveat -- I don't want to resort to the "she'll love whatever I make her because I made it for her". I want to come up with something she would have bought herself, or something she always needed but never knew it til now.

River-Along Update

OK I think I got all of you in the sidebar. If you're not there can you drop me a comment and I'll be sure to get you in. I'm also working on getting everyone's yarn and color choice in there. It's been fun to see some of the similarities and differences among the group. Surprisingly I think I'm the only one considering NOT using a mohair yarn. The blasphemy!

August 18, 2005 | Permalink


I think the clapotis in a really luxurious yarn would be really nice, especially when worn with a leather jacket. Is there a way to somehow gauge her interest in any pattern? Say showing her pics of stuff without saying, hey do you like this? would you wear this?

Posted by: yahaira | Aug 18, 2005 11:11:15 PM

I think the yarn choice is *key*, and the pattern choice is secondary. If you have a lovely, luxurious fill-in-the-blank, and knit 1 X 1 rib, or brioche stitch, it will be received the same as complicated cables and lace, I think. Maybe select the yarn first, and then see what kind of pattern it shows off best?

Posted by: grumperina | Aug 18, 2005 11:17:08 PM

For solid softness, I think I'd go with one of the Plymouth Baby Alpaca yarns. For colors, I was thinking Malbrigio or Manos, but non-knitters may not be surprised at the pilling and freak out. So... there's always Koigu! In tons of colors all mixed up. I agree with Grumpy that brioche (or my fave is mistake rib) would do the trick or if you did multi-colored, I'd go with something mitered. Never ceases to enchant knuggles.

Posted by: Lauren | Aug 18, 2005 11:52:03 PM

I agree with Lauren; my first thought was that it must be baby alpaca for softness. Misti also makes absolutely yummy alpaca.

Posted by: Karma | Aug 18, 2005 11:56:18 PM

Actually, the pink cables and lace is pretty, but so not black leather jacket. A really fabulous silk scarf, maybe, in a dazzling lace pattern. Personally, what sprang to my mind is a half-Clap in something richly coloured and fabulously drapey, just enough to drape lusciously around her throat, accenting her leather or her jean jacket. (But not big it catches in the works whenever she zooms off into the sunset.)

Posted by: Marie | Aug 19, 2005 2:17:20 AM

I'd look at softness and colors first - what are the colors she likes and wears? Is she a plain kind of person, or does she like lots of color variety and pattern? Find a yarn that will feel wonderful and is the right kind of color for her and then figure out which pattern would work.

Posted by: Kathy | Aug 19, 2005 2:40:48 AM

i've made a couple of beaded cuffs - maryella from knitty - for non-knitting friends and they have been received REALLY well. true they're only a small gift, but they have a very satisfying weight about them, and look really quite impressive. and, the recipients have been intrigued and surprised at receiving, essentially, knitted jewelry.

Posted by: anna | Aug 19, 2005 4:46:39 AM

Oooh ooh ohh! Felted bags. I have made tonnes of felted bags and various purses for friends, and then have loved them. Just find a popular purse shape, whip something up out of great colours, and felt away. Every felt purse that I have given has been used by the recepient (I know, because some of them are starting to look worn). And you can NEVER have too many purses

Posted by: Dani | Aug 19, 2005 6:49:51 AM

what about those cool gauntlets from rosie's? i've made them for a few non-knitters and they just loved them.

Posted by: AmyG | Aug 19, 2005 7:51:55 AM

Fairly easy but very pretty is that Koigu scarf in last minute knitted gifts. Don't do socks. No non-knitter--except an immediate relative--understands or appreciates the work in that. Clapotis is lovely and versatile. You know, the multi-directional scarf has been well received every time I have gifted it.

Posted by: Kathleen | Aug 19, 2005 7:52:47 AM

Coupla thoughts. [I've been also trying to find good scarf options for non-knitters... holidays just around the corner, drat.] One is the Short Row Rib scarf - http://www.magknits.com/warm05/patterns/rib.htm. It looks great in a variegated and would probably keep you entertained. Another option is the branching out scarf from knitty - in baby casmere or cashmerino, it would be divine. Finally ... don't know how good of a friend she is, but a fantastic gift would be the Klee scarf - http://two_pointy_sticks.blogspot.com/2005/04/introducing-klee-scarf-in-cashmere.html. It would look fantastic with leather or denim. And ... the cashmere!

Posted by: Ann | Aug 19, 2005 8:35:22 AM

I like the scarf idea... but also the Clapotis. It is kind of difficult for the non-knitter friends to realize exactly what goes into a hand knit... I guess that is why I have taught most of my friends how to knit! ;)

Whatever you do, I am sure it will be great, and that your friend will love it: it came from your crafty hands!

Posted by: Lolly | Aug 19, 2005 8:55:49 AM

Maybe I am on a mohair-kick, but I am envisioning an airy mohair scarf. There's a store model at my LYS that I've always thought would make a great gift. Habu silk/mohair, size 8 needles, 20 stitches, garter stitch. And its gorgeous.

Posted by: Diana | Aug 19, 2005 9:23:30 AM

What about the ruffley scarf from Scarf Style? In a funky-cool color of alpaca? It would go with her leather jacket OR the denim!

Posted by: chris | Aug 19, 2005 9:52:10 AM

I vote alpaca scarf all the way. Scarves are great, and she'll love wearing something that will no doubt receive tons of compliments by admirers. Choose a yarn in a colour she adores, and you’re sure to please.

Posted by: Anna | Aug 19, 2005 10:07:00 AM

I've had great reception by non-knitters to feather and fan scarfs made from variegated or self-striping yarn. (Jo Sharp's scarf in scarf style is one example.) The most fabulous one I made was from one of the self striping, slightly sparkly yarns from Diaketo - sadly I don't recall exactly which one... I think you can get Diaketo from Rosie's yarn cellar and one fine yarn.
good luck!

Posted by: jessie | Aug 19, 2005 10:47:25 AM

I think that a beautiful scarf, or pair of warm mittens would be wonderful.

Posted by: Colleen | Aug 19, 2005 11:06:18 AM

Twisted Sisters Voodoo and Petite Voodoo are incredible - silk/merino blend. Consider the ruffle scarf from Scarf Style or the vines scarf from Vogue Spring/Summer 2005.

Posted by: pj | Aug 19, 2005 11:10:37 AM

If it was me, as a black leather & denim kind of gal myself, I'd rather have a basic but very luxe black scarf that I can wear with everything. Nothing fancy stitch-wise, but really wonderful soft yarn.

Posted by: Karen | Aug 19, 2005 11:53:25 AM

Hmm, I think about this a lot -- is a knitter's sense of style and aesthetic different from the rest of the world? Sometimes I have to ask non-knitters around me, "is this ugly? will you be embarrassed to walk down the street with me if I wear this?". But I think the idea of a scarf in a luxurious yarn and great colour is the way to go -- especially November, it will be perfect...

Posted by: Felicia from sweetgeorgia | Aug 19, 2005 12:17:29 PM

Some people are scarf people, other people aren't (I'll wear 3-4 scarves a week 9 months out of the year, so you know where I fall).

Would a cute handbag work for her? It seems that the non-knitting, scarf-free folks in my life respond to the bags I make more than anything else. 'Course, I'm currently obsessed with bags lately...

Posted by: Sara | Aug 19, 2005 1:08:01 PM

I'd love to join your riveralong. I've got my yarn all ready and waiting. Im using Grace, a pale pink colour.

The M&S Jaffa Cakes are on my shopping list. I wonder how many points they are on my diet??? Hmmm, I'll probably lose the caleries thinking too hard about it anyway.


Posted by: Estee | Aug 19, 2005 1:28:29 PM

Maybe a scaled down Clapotis. It also depends on how good a friend she is as to how she will receive something you have knitted. I know that I will spend the time knitting something for my mother or two really good friends. I will not spend the time knitting something for my SIL or certain other friends because they will not appreciate it nor will they care for it.

I would along wht lines of a scarf in a really nice yarn like alpaca or a cashmere blend.

Posted by: Mia | Aug 19, 2005 2:27:25 PM

I made a scarf out of some Artfibers yarn in a color that I know my non-knitter friend would love. I just did a simple drop stitch scarf because I know she may not appreciate how much time goes into more complicated patterns. The yarn was really soft and beautiful. I would choose a color that she loves and a yarn that's more fancy and do a simple pattern. Clapotis is really beautiful and can be worn as a wrap or a scarf. Hope this helps.

Posted by: Evelyn | Aug 19, 2005 3:18:44 PM

Ask first, that way you'll spoil the surprise but you'll know she will use and appreciate your gift.

Posted by: Pioggia | Aug 19, 2005 5:51:50 PM

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