Shopping centres are my mortal enemy at the best of times. At Christmas, the enmity ratchets up several hundred notches to the point where I’d rather eat puréed eggplant with a side of smoked cod than enter the damnèd portal of the Temple of Pointless Spending. You can therefore imagine my delight when I realised I could make Christmas presents and thereby avoid shopping centres entirely.
If you are not one of these crazy people would rather spend hours toiling over handmade presents than facing the Christmas shopping crowds, then you may not know there’s a set of unspoken rules for the whole business.
Firstly, you should know that if you have ever received a handmade present, then the person who made it thinks pretty highly of you. No-one is going to spend hours making a present for a passing acquaintance or someone who keeps stealing their pens at work. In short: congratulations! You’ve made it to a crafter’s short-list.
Secondly, you must be aware that the things you wear or the colour preferences you reveal will be noted down and saved for future reference. So if you happen to have a suspicion that someone might be making you a gift, think nothing of casually mentioning how much you love teal, or that you don’t have enough orange things in your house. This will be regarded as incredibly useful intelligence by the crafter.
Thirdly, the mere act of giving away a hand-crafted present has been a huge wrench for the crafter. Nine times out of ten, the crafter will sit there, stroking the finished object and feeling pangs of heartache at the knowledge that it will be given away. And this is the one dilemma we face with handmade presents. We do love giving them away but it is ridiculously difficult at times. Personally, I hope this means I’ve made something that will be treasured by the recipient, but I can never stop feeling a little jealous that they’ll be the ones enjoying it instead of me.
To illustrate this point, I present you with exhibit A:
Why, why isn’t it in my kitchen right now, ready to keep some tea toasty warm? Ah, I miss it so much already and it’s only been a few hours since I gave it away. If only you could see how well it fits on both of my teapots! Well, actually, you can see how well it fits on at least one of them.
But look: pom poms!
And look: lovely ripply rows of crochet!
Yes, I enjoyed making it and yes, I was ninety-five percent sure the giftee would like it but yes, it was nevertheless a sombre moment as I wrapped up the tea cosy, preparing it for its journey to its new home.
Obviously, I still have the pattern, so I could easily make one for myself if I really wanted to. And now that the Summer holidays have finally started, I’ll have plenty of spare time in which to do so. Although it may have to go in line behind the cardigan I’m still knitting, not to mention numerous pairs of socks that currently exist only as balls of wool. And a super secret project with a deadline. Oh, and the three dresses I have planned to sew.
Actually, I’m probably going to be quite exhausted by the time the holidays are over. I’ll barely have any time free to miss the tea cosy after all.
Pattern: Staffordshire Tea Cosy from Patons Big Book of Small Projects 2
Tools: 4mm knitting needles; 4mm crochet hook; wool needle.
Wool: Bendigo Woollen Mills 8 ply & Cleckheaton Naturals 8 ply