cro opened presents under tree 1213

Now that you have given away your many wonderful crocheted projects, how do you feel about your gifts?  Are they still yours?  Do they now belong completely to the recipient to do with as s/he pleases?  Do your feelings get hurt if your carefully made items are not treated with respect, received well, cherished?  Have you vowed to never again bother to crochet anything for that ungrateful _____________ (niece, husband, sister in law, child, neighbor).  You fill in the blank.

This is a really serious issue for a lot of us who take many hours to fashion handmade gifts for people we consider special.  What happens to us when we feel that our laboriously crafted gifts are not well received or are treated shabbily?  Has it happened to you?  How do you handle this issue?

I have a general practice that once I give a gift, it is not longer mine.  I strive to not vest too much emotionally in a gift even if I’ve invest much time and money to create that gift.  I have only had one family member (and a former SIL at that) who did not seem to value my carefully chosen, lovingly crafted gifts.  I know that she sold everything she ever received from our family at a garage sale as soon as she could!  Of course, that makes the decision to spend $10 on her at Target or to crochet her a gift easy.  She gets the Target gift!  I’m sure she valued that more anyway.

I am not so foolish that I believe that every person who expresses delight at the crocheted scarf or cap they receive from me is actually delighted to receive the gift.  Some people are just more polite than others.  But, nothing much beats the sheer joy I feel when I see true delight in the eyes of the recipient.

That is most likely to happen when I have given a babyghan for a baby shower.  Usually, my afghan is the only handmade item received, making it all the more special to the new mom.  But a smiling thank you for a scarf or cap can be just for show.  At least no one rubs in my face that my choice of gifts is not acceptable.  There are just some people who would rather receive a scarf made in a sweatshop in the Third World than one made in my family room.  That’s okay so long as I know about it.  And, it typically takes only one event for me to figure that out.

That said, once the gift is given, it is no longer mine – even if I made it with my own hands.  Whatever its fate, it has been passed to its now rightful owner and I will separate myself emotionally from it.  If you’ve ever seen grandma’s handmade quilt in the trunk of a car used for hauling pets and picnics, you know the feeling of devalued artisanal efforts.  Even my grandmother’s tattered quilts are treasured and treated like precious gems.  Their value far exceeds the fabric and thread.  But, I am not naive.  I know that is not the case for all of us.

cro no strings 1213

So, what has been your experience?  How have you handled the frank dissatisfaction or the discerned distaste for a gift you hand made for someone?  Do you take it personally?  Are you able to separate yourself from the item?  Are you able to make and give your crochet with no strings attached?  Please share your story with us so we can all learn the best way to handle this situation which will inevitably happen to each of us at some point in our lives.

 

 

Note:  The picture above is actually that of a family’s living room after thieves stole all their Christmas gifts a few days before Christmas.  Fortunately, the family received many presents from generous donors around the St. Louis area.

By jd wolfe




Comments

26 Comments so far

  1. GJ Amber on January 1, 2014 7:33 am

    This is a very relevant subject and something that I think we crafters have all thought about at one time or another. Personally I feel that I put a part of myself into what I make so if what I make is not respected, then neither am I. Harsh? Perhaps. I admire your being able to give with no strings, but I cannot do that. I do only make things for people in my life who I think will appreciate them.

  2. Angie on January 1, 2014 8:45 am

    I only make and give to family and friends that I think will appreciate my efforts. I also donate items I make, those I don’t worry about. It’s difficult to find your hand crocheted afghan used as a dog bed. This happened once when I gifted such an afghan to a family member. I don’t give that person anything I hand make anymore. Some people love handcrafted items, others don’t. You have to use some intuition, and avoid the hurt feelings.

  3. Donna on January 1, 2014 9:43 am

    Yes, this is a tough one. I have made quilts for immediate family, and for nieces and nephews. I wanted to make sure that each of them had something homemade from me, That said, the quilts made for one side of the family went over like a lead balloon because mom insisted on the colors. :-/ I now only make quilts for immediate family and ornaments every year for everyone. It’s hard not to be upset when something homemade is not received well. However, it was awhile ago, I have gotten over it, and learned my lesson.

  4. Cindy on January 1, 2014 10:23 am

    My sister put hours into gifts she makes for people. I have never heard a negative remark. Only big smiles. I made all the kids hats and scarfs one year. My son who loves the cold and snow told me that he will never wear the scarf because he would be too hot snowmobiling but he will keep it safe in his dresser and treasure it always. My feelings were not hurt by his honest. I knew he treasured it and that is all that mattered. This same son used an afghan for more than twenty years. Thanks for your attention.

  5. dj on January 1, 2014 11:21 am

    Coach hand bags end up at Goodwill sometimes too, so I wouldn’t take it too hard. Once I give an item, hand made or not, it becomes the property of the recipient. I would not be happy to receive a gift that came with strings attached and do not want my gifts to feel like a burden.

  6. Theresa on January 1, 2014 5:12 pm

    I will no longer crochet anything for my sister or either of her two daughters. They respect nothing. When they were smaller, I had crocheted elaborate Barbie doll dresses only to find the doll and dress lying in mud puddles after it had rained. When my oldest niece was pregnant she said she didn’t want anything “homemade” cause she wanted designer stuff. When I crocheted scarves for their family one Christmas, my sister had them in a bag to take to GoodWill the following month. So I figured ‘why bother’ making something when it will not be appreciated. I can’t just forgot all the time and effort I put into making an item. I would rather reserve my efforts for someone who will appreciate them.

  7. kim on January 1, 2014 7:51 pm

    I have purchased items at good will stores because i have felt for the person that spent so much time on something only to have someone else give it away.
    So, yes i take it personally when someone devalues the time and effort put in.

  8. Marillyn Ketcherside on January 1, 2014 8:25 pm

    I figure it belongs to the person I gave it to and I release it. But if I don’t see it being treated well, that’s the last time.

    I have one sister-in-law and her family that I would never ever give anything I made. I made scarves the year they moved up into the cold country. I slao made grape jam from grapes in my backyard and blackberries we found and picked. We were asked “Couldn’t you afford for buy us presents. We spent more than if we had bought presents in a store.

  9. Chyna on January 1, 2014 8:30 pm

    I can soooooo relate to your ‘scarf-or-Target-gift-card’ story because that’s so close to what happened to me. I heard through my friend that my niece snickered and sneered at all hand-crafted stuff, saying that she wouldn’t wear anything unless it had a designer label and that hand-made goods were ‘craptastic’. I never said a word, but the following year when everyone else got hand-knit/crocheted/sewn tops, gloves, socks, afghans and other hand-crafted and/or home-baked/canned items, she received a Christmas card with a $5 Wal*Mart gift card. This was over a decade ago and she’s got nothing more than that each year from me.

  10. SheilaSchnauzies on January 1, 2014 8:52 pm

    JD, talk about a timely topic! Very well said, as well! How can we NOT take rejection personally when it involves something in which we have invested hours, weeks, or months of effort? It’s very hard not to. I’m like you in that it takes me just once to “read” a person’s reaction and note it for the future.

    Sad, but true… not everyone loves crocheted items as we do! THAT part we can’t take personally.

    I have a lot of friends and family who DO enjoy my crocheted items, but I do a little up-front research. Finding out their favorite colors, for example. I have a new daughter-in-law whose favorite color is orange. Anything I make her in orange is pretty much a sure bet! My daughter does not seem to appreciate crocheted wearables, but every doily I have made her in her entire life is displayed in her home! I try to stay away from things that need to fit, like slippers or gloves.

    Sometimes I totally luck out, like when my fairy god-daughter comes for a visit, bringing a scarf she bought in a department store and says, “I know you can make a nicer one than this!” Then she tells me the color she’s after and the rest is up to me. She has appreciated every single thing I’ve given her.

    So I think it really depends on the recipient, in the end. Try to target their taste as closely as you can, then hope for the best! OR… how about giving them a hand-made gift card good for the crocheted item of their choice? (with limits!!)

    I find it hard to let pieces go. I become attached to them. The thing that helps me is to photograph them before giving away.

    And I, like Kim, have purchased many handmade items at thrift stores just so they will be appreciated!

  11. Wilma on January 1, 2014 8:59 pm

    I have given to friends and family and only one time did I feel disrespected by the receipent. The person requested a lap ghan for another friend. I carefully picked out the pattern and fussed over the colors and spent many hours on it. The next time I saw it, it was in the mama cat and kittens bed, totally ruined. I never found out why it was never given to the person. I didn’t ask, but never made her anything even though she did ask again. Told her I was too busy.

  12. Jennie Gaskin on January 1, 2014 9:55 pm

    Once it’s out of my hands, it’s out of my mind. The only thing I expect is a “thank you”, and if that doesn’t come then I don’t do it again.
    Tuesday I handed a hat in the Marine Corps colors to a checker at Wal-Mart because she had mentioned (back in Nov., the last time we were at that particular WM) that she had seen many crocheted hats (I was buying yarn) but never one in those colors. And yes, it was for her! About my height, so 5’2″ at the tallest… Yesterday we went back to that Wal-Mart, and she was working so I presented her with the hat. She was delighted, hugged me, and said thank you more than once. Who could ask for more? And if she takes it home and lets the dog chew it up, not my problem. If it ends up in a garage sale, I’ll never know LOL

  13. Sheri *¿* on January 1, 2014 10:10 pm

    Here I go with the subject of PotHolders again! I have made double thickness of “squares” and filled them with pkgs of lip gloss and small things of that nature. Yet, again, the PotHolders are unique, decorative and definitely useful. Not plain ordinary PotHolders. I found that more Men love them when I have given these as Hostess gifts! They have used them too. I feel, mainly, PotHolders are quick (Even the elaborate ones) and a “Safe” gift. I have pretty much 365 days a year to study each person to find out their preferences regarding scarves, sweaters, Doll clothes, afghans, COLORS and the like. I do know One thing for sure, PotHolders are a much needed item in every household! Only one time a crocheted gift was re-gifted. It’s when I made 2 nice large decorative living room pillows, 1 each going to my parents, the other to his parents. They were the wrong colors for both sides, and should have been switched the other way around. It was His Mom that re-gifted the pillow whereas My folks kept theirs because it was made by me. S. *¿*

  14. Jaan L on January 1, 2014 10:51 pm

    I am protective of what I make, and who I gift it to. Handmade items crocheted, knitted, or needlecrafts are only given to those who will actually enjoy and care for those items. Why should we give something that we have spent time making to just have it abused. I do make caps/scarves for the needy. But they even take good care of these items.

  15. Cath T on January 2, 2014 12:14 am

    I feel for everyone who ever invested time in a handmade gift that was not appreciated. But…lets flip this coin. Once when I was in high school my mother found some plaid fabric, probably on sale, and decided she wanted to make me a poncho out of it. She showed me the fabric, clearly excited about the project, and asked me if I liked it and the idea of the poncho. You have to realize I have spent my whole life walking on eggs with her. She can go into great theatrics when you don’t go along with her 100%. I learned early on not to say how I really feel to her. She made it, with the best of intentions (aside from not really asking me for my sincere opinion on the fabric or poncho idea). The fabric was various shades of very bright reds and yellows, etc. Very bright. She lined it with a section of an old, worn knit blanket. It was truly hideous, but I had to wear it, at least a few times.
    Rather than being miffed by recipients who don’t appreciate your gift, consider the fact that maybe they really, truly don’t like it. They don’t have your values. They don’t share your love of crochet or knitting or whatever. Maybe you should have an honest, open conversation about handmade crafts in general, then work you way up to, “Would you wear a hat like this?” or whatever. Let them tell you their true feelings BEFORE you make the item. If they say they don’t like it, you know to move on to the next recipient. Just be willing to accept the fact that they have different tastes, and they’re entitled to it. Surely surfing the crafts blogs, you’ve seen plenty of things YOU didn’t like, right? Ask before you create. The right recipient will still love the gift even if it isn’t a surprise.

  16. Valerie Carpenter on January 2, 2014 1:52 am

    I have vowed never to make my husband’s grandmother anything. From now on, she’ll get gift cards. She quilts, sews and crochets so she should appreciate the time that goes into a handmade gift. I try to match colors and her tastes. Each year I find what I made her the previous year winds up in the community yardsale. She collects Christmas ornaments, so I made her some, each with a different craft. She told me that she had enough ornaments. I even baked her a special rum cake because I was told that she loved them only to have her roll her eyes when I gave it to her. I’m not wasting my time anymore.

  17. Judy Fergusen on January 2, 2014 2:30 am

    Years ago I made an afghan for each of my 5 children…. the eldest boy’s wife knew that it was handmade FOR him. She decided to use it on the floor in front of the door to deflect the cold and from there, their dog took it over. One day as they were splitting up their household, i retrieved , washed it and gave it back to my son!

  18. Linda S. on January 2, 2014 5:54 am

    Whatever I gift is no longer mine, the recipient can do whatever they want with it.

    Having said that, though, I once made my mother an afghan out of fairly expensive wool. I gave her a couple of the wrappers with the care instructions, but she washed it in hot water, then ran it through the dryer. After that, she always got acrylic.

    Guess I’m lucky, all my friends and family appreciate whatever they get from me.

  19. Jeanne Whipple on January 2, 2014 7:08 am

    I think all of us who gift homemade items have had the items disrespected. I no longer make big, time consuming items, since I made a very personally geared item for a friend and found it in the garbage when she moved. I thought she would appreciate the time and effort I put in it because she is also a crafter.

  20. Ann on January 2, 2014 7:27 am

    I’ve been crocheting 40+ years and sold a lot of things through the years so as a rule I don’t get too attached to individual items. I’ve learned that some people just have no idea what’s involved and aren’t interested in learning. Once I know who isn’t impressed, they move to the gift card category – no hard feelings; just a reality check. If I have enough warning, I will ask a bride/groom if they would like to have a crocheted tablecloth. When the response is a polite ‘whatever you want is fine,’ I go to the bridal registry. But when they’re thrilled – as in I’m inheriting Granny’s table and would love to have a tablecloth – then I ask a lot of questions and make a one-of-a-kind gift that will be mentioned for years to come. Those responses are what warm the soul of a crocheter.

  21. Jackie on January 2, 2014 9:50 am

    I have learned who to not give hand made gifts to. I agree, a gift is no longer yours after you give it, but it does hurt when the time and effort you put into it isn’t appreciated.

  22. Crochet Connie on January 2, 2014 11:29 am

    I am with you 100%! What has deep meaning for me can have only the thought behind it for someone else. If someone would rather have something store bought, I’m happy to oblige. My daughters can’t get enough of my handmade items; my mother, a sewist herself, doesn’t want any. That’s OK by me.

    ANY gift, once I give it, is no longer mine, handmade or bought. Use it, re-gift it, sell it, donate it, display it, hide it, love it, destroy it, whatever; it’s yours, not mine. If you don’t want or like or use what I gave you, let it find its proper home, and let me know what you do appreciate. I actually get a thrill out of seeing someone loving something I made, even if it isn’t the person I originally gave it to!

    And let’s make that reciprocal. When you give me a gift, I can appreciate the love behind it without needing to keep the object itself.

    If not, what is intended as an expression of caring is a burden, not a gift.

  23. Marilyn on January 2, 2014 12:48 pm

    I try to have the “no strings attached” approach, but the following causes me difficulty:
    My very best friend in all the world is very AAD (adult attention deficit) and loses things easily and almost immediately. I’ve seen my crocheted gifts to her go missing right away and/or she’ll forget to use them, and I’ve just decided not to make her anything else, at least for awhile. It’s just a waste of my time. Since I’m at her house a lot, I am aware of this.

  24. Lorna on January 2, 2014 1:02 pm

    I try to give the gift and let it go, but I am sad when I find something that I made discarded or set aside. But it won’t stop me from making things!

  25. Diane on January 2, 2014 5:40 pm

    I haven’t ever had it happen except I have had handmade gifts taken for granted before and not cared for as I would care for them. It makes me a bit angry but once I have given it to someone its not longer mine. However, that person may not get anything from me that I spend a lot of time or money on ever again.

  26. ewy on January 2, 2014 6:15 pm

    My problem isn’t so much that my hand made item is not appreciated, – my problem that hits me worse than anything is when I mail the item to the person & never even get a note or phone call to let me know the package arrived. I’m not even asking for thanks, just let me know that you got it. Line the trash can with it, for all I care!

    I once made real cute cupcake hat for stepson’s dtr, – I had to ask & ask & ask to find out finally that they did receive it. Then his wife said that it didn’t fit the child. Funny, I tried it on a neighbor’s kid who is a bit older & it fit perfectly. Child must have a basketball sized head!

    So, with me, its: let me know you got the pkg, or next occasion, you don’t get anything.

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