A story about squee, and other reactions to gifts

“Your reaction was priceless.”

That’s what my flatmate told me yesterday about Geoffery’s Grand Reveal. It’s the kind of reaction we all hope a gift will induce- especially a handmade gift.

Maurice Sendak was once asked about the greatest compliment he’d ever received about his work. He told this story:

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

The reaction we get isn’t always the one we expect. Mostly, the reaction will suit the thought we’ve put into the gift. But then there are the times where a gift gets ignored, or used the wrong way- for example the story a knitter told about knitting a hat for her boyfriend, who used it and treasured it…as a tea cosy.

Sometimes our love and thought is thrown away. It doesn’t mean the love and thought is wasted, because in putting it into the world, little by little we make the world a better place. That’s what I think, anyway.

And note, it really is the thought, not the cost. A book found in a charity shop can be as much loved as a diamond ring.

All we can do is choose our gifts with love, and hope for the best. This, by the way, is still my favourite reaction to a gift I’ve ever seen:

May all your gifts this year score an 11 🙂

Five rules for Secret Santa awesomeness

It’s that time of year again.


Sometimes you’ll be given a name from a hat, sometimes you’ll just be told ‘bring a gift for Secret Santa’. Sometimes you’ll be told “there’s going to be a fun game as part of the Secret Santa”- to which my reaction is usually

Secret Santa comes upon us often unexpectedly, rather like this:

I have a particularly fraught history with Secret Santa. There was the year I gave a nice Lush gift box for the knitting group Secret Santa and got…a button. The year I carefully made a gift for someone only to be given a random assortment of flotsam from a charity shop. I’ve had things I actually wanted stolen off me, and been stuck with thoughtless gifts. I think we all have. And yet I persevere. I’m stubborn that way.

But, for the sake of any others out there under a Secret Santa curse, I would like to present you with five rules for your Secret Santa gifting that will, hopefully, make your experience and that of your recipient more festive than f***ed off.

1: Stick to the budget.

You’re not going to get any special prizes for going over-budget, so resist the temptation to buy something that costs more than the price limit you’ve been given. And don’t go way under, either. That’s just mean.

2: No ‘funny’ gifts.

You wouldn’t want to be stuck with one. Don’t stick someone else with one.

3: If you’re allowed to state preferences, be reasonable

Give people some leeway to work with, but remember rule number 1 about the budget. And don’t provide a long list.

4: If someone else has stated preferences, pay attention to them

If they haven’t asked for reasonable things, then see if you can interpret what they’ve asked for into some idea of their tastes. If they have expensive tastes then a small amount of something fancy is probably better than lots of something cheap (so for example a mini bottle of the posh fizzy wine instead of a big bottle of Lindauer- or just get them some strawberries to accompany their posh fizz instead).

5: Don’t make the gift.

Unless it’s an exchange of handmade gifts. Save your crafting time for yourself, or people who you *know for sure* will appreciate the effort.

And remember, keep smiling no matter what you’re given.

After all, if it’s the work Secret Santa, you can always “accidentally” leave that “hilarious” gift on the bus.

Gratituesday: Knock knock, motherf***ers

I have my own metal chicken. Her name is Geoffery Peabody Wildington III (now), and she is everything I could ever have imagined a metal chicken could be:

Metal chicken on a coffee table

My awesome flatmates bought her for me a couple of months ago, so she’s been in their room, hiding under a towel, awaiting her magnificent Christmas big-reveal moment. Apparently they found her up north, a couple of days after I first read the Bloggess’ story of how she acquired HER metal chicken and went “it’s a sign. We have to buy this metal chicken for Ellen.”

Apparently my reaction made it ALL worth it.

I have found my people.

It’s been quite the week for people being awesome like this. There was Geoffery. And then there was an old colleague and friend of mine messaging me on Thursday and telling me I’m going to Webstock. He won a free ticket, but as his work had already paid for his spot, he gave the free ticket to me! Talk about floored.

I started to get my kraken tattoo coloured in on Friday and it’s looking fantastic. It also itches like a motherf***er. It was a really lovely couple of hours (pain aside), chatting to Nursey, Dr Morse and the woman he was tattooing. Dr Morse told me about the very best misheard song lyric I have ever heard- but I’m going to make you wait to hear it because I plan to turn it into a cross-stitch.

Spending a bit of time down in Wellington was nice, I got to catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while, ate nice brunches, and I may have bought things at Holland Road Yarn Company. I also went to the Santa Parade. The takeaway from THAT was don’t go to the Santa Parade if you’re OCD. Nobody’s shoes match their costumes.

The Christmas cross-stitches are DONE, and now I can start on fun summer stuff. Also bunting. Which really I should have started on first, but I had an overwhelming urge to embroider a lawn flamingo. So I am. I haven’t tried paper piecing before, but with just over 2 weeks off over the break, it’s a perfect time to try something new.

The little things:

Tiki tours with the Best Beloved, Christmas music, tea (always tea), meditation, decluttering, library books, nice reactions to presents, fun stuff in the mail, Gchat.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Geoffery paying homage to Beyonce the Metal Chicken:

Metal chicken outside a doorKnock knock, motherf***ers.


And this is why you don’t mess with crafters before Christmas

It’s not, in fact, because we have pointy objects with us pretty much all the time, along with tiny scissors- because really, we’d have to really hulk out in rage to be able to make most knitting needles break through your skin, and the sewing needles, hey, we NEED those.

No, the real reason not to mess with crafters is this: we will make you presents.

And if you’re not careful, those presents will have hidden stuff.

I’m certain I’m not the only person who has accidentally sewn a vagina onto a plushie. That’s the sort of thing that could happen to anyone.

But here’s the thing…

What we do by accident…we can do on purpose.

I’m actually working on a quilt where most of the fabrics were chosen because they were so very yonic (the opposite of phallic- see? This post is educational.). Now I know how to sew an accidental ladygarden onto a plushie, don’t think  I won’t do it deliberately and insist it’s just a heart shape. It’s not a heart shape. 

That beautiful knitted horse hat? Not designed for what you think. WE know that. We’ll also make sure we get photos of you wearing it.

I guess what I’m saying is, be nice to your crafter. Say thank you. If we’ve made you clothes, wear the clothes (or put the baby in the clothes and take a photo). Use the thing, or display the thing. Tell people about the thing when we’re around.

If the fear of possible yonic teddybears isn’t enough, consider this: Crafting takes time. It takes effort. We could be spending that time on making something for ourselves but instead, we’re making it for you. Even at minimum wage, that represents a lot of value. As Brenda Dayne once pointed out in the Cast On podcast, “that’s a $400 sweater you’re wearing”.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement in the run-up to Christmas. Be kind. If you see us working on something, ask us about it. Say how cool it is, or how it’s coming along nicely. If you can’t think of anything nice to say try “well, that’s something.”

And also: When considering what to buy us for the holiday season, you may think we have enough craft supplies because we’re already surrounded by fabric and yarn and thread and what have you. But you would be wrong.  Craft stores. They exist. They do gift vouchers. We like gift vouchers. They let us buy more craft supplies. Which we totally need. Just saying.