I know it’s probably too soon for most people to be thinking about the C word*, but because I’m looking after the pennies right now I am trying to spread my present-buying out over several months rather than doing it all in a rush in December and making that one month impossibly expensive. This year I’m planning ahead. AND, because some of my family like to have some pointers for what to get me for the festive season, I’m encouraging them to plan ahead too. So I’m dedicating this post to anyone who’s looking for genuinely great gifts to buy for me the knitter in their life.
Buying knitting gifts is hard for non-knitters. I get it. You want to support your knitterly pal but don’t know where to begin. The world of yarn (and it’s not just wool, which is confusing enough) is so huge – where do you even start? And the jargon is baffling – you don’t know what ‘DK’ or ‘worsted’ or ‘4-ply’ means. The array of different fibres available in yarn form is immense (is alpaca any good? blue-faced leicester? can you still get just plain ‘wool’?) and if you take the plunge and actually buy someone a ball of yarn, will they even like it? Just as importantly, will it be enough for them to actually make something from, or could you be giving them, effectively, a third of a hat or a single sock? What kind of accessories are actually useful?
Fear not, friends and families of people who knit! Below is my personally curated list of gifts for knitters. Following these tips will allow you to buy the knitter in your life a thoughtful, useful gift that they will appreciate and you will feel good about buying and giving. Most of these are independent small businesses too, who are absolutely worth supporting. This list is pretty UK-centric, but a lot of these vendors will shop abroad, and for the accessories list you can search in your local Etsy (or equivalent other online shop). (NB: prices shown here are correct at the time of writing, and don’t include shipping costs.)
Does your knitter knit socks? (You’ll almost certainly know already if they do – and if you don’t, ask.) If ‘yes’, you are onto a winner if you buy them some special sock yarn – a sock knitter can never have too much sock yarn, and as long as you follow the simple rules below you’ll never get it wrong (you might even get a pair of handknitted socks back at some point in the future – though that’s not guaranteed). The other good thing about sock yarn is that the leftovers are good for making gloves and hats, so nothing will go to waste.
The only important thing to know about sock yarn, before you buy it, is that roughly 400m of sock yarn is needed to make a pair of socks, which generally equates to 100g of yarn. Some sock yarn is sold in single 100g skeins (so you only need to buy one), and some is sold in 50g skeins or balls (so you’ll need to buy two). On the links below I’ve indicated which is which, but it’s worth remembering this if you go sock yarn shopping somewhere else. Also, if you do decide to buy elsewhere, you want your yarn to be a mix of wool and, usually, nylon to ensure the result is hard-wearing (the standard blend is 75% wool and 25% nylon). Actually, the third important thing is that sock yarn comes in ALL THE COLOURS because nobody cares what you wear on your feet, so you can pick a colour you and your knitting pal both love.
Onto some of my favourites
Travelknitter, BFL Supersock, £18
The colours of this yarn are utterly gorgeous – her dyes are deep and saturated and stunning. Only one skein of this yarn is needed for a pair of socks (and I love absolutely all the colours – I haven’t used this yet, but would very much like to).
Coopknits, Socks Yeah!, £12 (£6 per skein)
I have made several socks already in this yarn (see my Twyllas and Hortensias) – it’s great yarn at good value which comes in a lovely range of colours designed to go with one another. This yarn comes in 50g skeins, which means you need to get two in order for your knitter to be able to make a pair of socks. The good news is, this means you can get different colours if you want. Or go crazy and get three or even four colours that you think work together – your knitter will know what to do (socks, gloves, hats, cowls – so many options).
Blacker Yarns (cost varies according to yarn)
Do you fancy keeping your knitter in sock yarn AND supporting a British wool mill? Blacker Yarns make some great yarns with British wool – their British Classic 4-ply (£8.80) would make a lovely pair of socks in muted colours, and I am especially intrigued by the Mohair Blend (£13.20), which uses mohair for strength instead of nylon. You’ll need to buy two balls of either of these yarns to gift your knitter with enough for a pair of socks.
Countess Ablaze, Sock Yarn, £19
Want some seriously bonkers and brilliant colour options for your knitter to make some socks in? Countess Ablaze is your gal – I’ve seen this yarn at a few yarn festivals and have always admired it. One skein will make an excellent pair of socks.
Self-striping sock yarn – a sub-category
Easyknits Gobstoppers, £22 – this is REALLY fun sock yarn which will make perfect striped socks. One skein needed for a pair of socks.
Zauberball, £9.89 – I think this is a pretty commercial yarn as you can pick it up in lots of shops, so you’re not supporting an independent dyer or British business with this one. It’s fun though (one skein needed)
What about non-sock yarn, though?
The truth is, the variety of yarn available these days is so wide and deep that if you want to go beyond socks, the best way to ensure you’re getting your pet knitter the right yarn in the right quantity is to ask them what they actually want (or ask another friendly knitter for advice, if you know a bit about what your person likes in terms of garments and colours). Otherwise it’s pretty risky. But if you really want to enable them to get the right kind of yarn, you can always get them…
Gift vouchers from John Lewis would be the classic choice for commercial yarn, if you’re in the UK, or why not work out the nearest independent yarn shop to where your knitting friend lives and buy some gift vouchers direct from them. (Interested parties can speak to my husband to establish my local yarn shop, should they so wish.) And last but not least, if your personal morals don’t put you off, Am*zon vouchers are always pretty handy (you can get all sorts of good knitting needles and notions from there – and for the most part it’s best to let your knitter pick their own when it comes to knitting equipment).
Kits for making whole projects
One option, instead of buying miscellaneous yarn, is to get a yarn kit. Buying any of these will mean you’re gifting your knitter with a pattern and exactly the right yarn to make it. The kits listed here are ones that I particularly like, but if you know the kind of style your personal knitter appreciates then do a bit of googling for ‘yarn kits’ and you never know what you might find.
(The first couple of these are pretty spendy, friends&family, so I’m posting this in hope rather than expectation – but you never know!)
I have been in love with this colourwork jumper (and matching gloves) ever since Kate Davies released the pattern. It was on my wishlist when I went to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, but in the event I couldn’t quite justify it. However it would make an amazingly generous present for your knitting loved one (*ahem* – I personally prefer the ‘Haar’ colourway, which is the one in this picture, and would need the kit for the 35.75 size, just saying). This one comes with an email follow-up and download link for the pattern – make sure you download the PDF that you get a link to, so you have the pattern for your knitter as well as the yarn.
You can choose from four different colour combinations with this kit and they’re all gorgeous (shown here in Festina Lente). Check out that scarf – it is unbelievably beautiful. (Observant readers might spot that this is made with the same Travelknitter sock yarn that I link to above.)
I love this hat in both the grellow (shown here) and orange colourways. I bet the knitter in your life would love to receive the kit to make it, too.
This is a bit different to the ones above because it’s the yarn for the kit but you have to buy the pattern separately – however I’m including it because I *love* it. Frankly if you bought me this I would happily fork out for the pattern myself (and am certain any other discerning knitter would, too).
Knitting accessories aren’t just complicated-looking gadgets and doodads. You can also get some beautiful things which are super-practical.
Project bags, £18-£45
I can honestly never have too many project bags. You can buy cute little ones that are suitable for a small project like a pair of socks or a hat, or larger ones that are good for jumpers or big shawls. The link above is a search on Etsy for larger bags and there are loads of gorgeous ones there – go and have a root around (here’s a second search). Key things to look for in a really good knitting bag: a sturdy flat base so the bag can sit on the ground without flopping over; some kind of internal or external extra pocket(s) to keep various knitterly notions safe; and whatever kind of fabric that most floats your (or your loved one’s) boat.
Yarn bowls, £18-£35
Yarn bowls are practical (they keep a ball of yarn from bouncing around while it’s being knitted from) and many of them are beautiful – especially the turned wooden ones. (I like ones like these.) Etsy has a permanent supply – take a look. (Some are also spectacularly ugly – I trust you to have good taste, friends-of-knitters.)
Bag hangers, £5-£20
You know those things you put on a table in a bar or restaurant to hang your bag from? Well they are perfect for hanging a small project bag from, which makes knitting in public a breeze (it’a also worth searching for ‘purse hook’).
Ohhh-kay! Enough ideas for ya? I hope you’ve found this list handy, whether you’re a non-knitter with your own personal knitting buddy/child/sibling/parent, or a knitter pal of mine who’s directed other people to this post for some present-buying tips. Let me know! x
* Christmas, you guys! What were you thinking?