This aggravates me. A LOT. I post here a rant on this very subject.
Does it really matter if the recipient of the gift is truly allergic or "merely" sensitive to a particular fiber? They have expressed a preference. I would think that disregarding that preference because you think you know better than they do what they like or dislike
serves only to guarantee an unsuccessful gift. This person, in expressing their preference (or their restriction) is giving you a clue on how to come up with a successful gift (eg something they will use, wear or otherwise enjoy). It may not make any sense to you that someone might find the finest, softest Merino processed in the gentlest manner to be completely irritating and scratchy. That doesn't mean it isn't real to *them* and it doesn't mean they don't
have the right to avoid such an unpleasant encounter, particularly since they made sure you were aware of the limitation. Personally, I think it's borderline rude to just ignore someone's assertion that wool (or whatever fiber) is a problem for them.
I've seen a contact dermatitis rash on a toddler that was cause by the wool blanket that someone gave his mother "because babies aren't allergic to wool". (Mom was unaware that the blanket was wool since she had told the knitter that wool was a problem.) It may not be a full-blown anaphylactic reaction (where your airway swells up and your eyes swell shut, etc), but it's certainly the overactive immune response that is generally referred to as an "allergic reaction". Regardless of what you want to label it, the blanket and that child are *never* going to be happy together. I know the toddler was miserable. I have no idea how guilty the knitter felt or if they decided that the parents were rude and ungrateful because the child was never going to use the painstakingly knitted blanket he was given.
This brings me to the gift end of the equation: Every year, just before the winter holidays, people begin to ask what to knit various people who are either picky or have stated that they don't like whatever it is hte knitter loves to knit the best. ("My
Why would you knit someone an item you *know* they aren't going to enjoy? Why waste that time, that energy and that yarn? I have seen many people on various knitting lists talk about the horribly ungrateful person who was given an intricate handknit sweater but never wore it. Yet we all laughed about the sweaters Mrs. Weasley knit for Harry and his friends in the Harry Potter books/movies. Somehow that's not nearly as funny when *you* are the knitter, is it? Why set yourself up for failure?
If you *do* knit something that the recipient does not like for whatever reason (and they may never tell you why they don't like it so as to spare your feelings), do NOT get crabby and resentful when the recipient doesn't wear it. If you are going to knit something and have any number of strings attached to it, including whether or not you will consider that person to be worth any sort of civil treatment for the rest of your lives, why bother? Isn't the process of giving and receiving a gift supposed to bring joy? Why not get a head start and give something which the *recipient* might like, not just something that you would like if someone made it for you or something you've been meaning to knit but didn't have an excuse to knit until now? There was one year where I knit hats and sweaters for charity (and donated them in hte names of my family members), then gave NOBODY in my family any gifts other than a small gift card
for each person. They *loved* that idea and everybody was happy. (I do realize this does not work for most families and certainly not with kids, but it's an idea. Feel free to come up with your own creative solution and develop your own tradition.)
I do not deny that there are ungrateful gift recipients out there. There are those who don't like presents unless they have the "right" labels in them (from the "right' designer or store, etc). There are those folks who simply do not like handmade/homemade *anything*. These people may or may not be gracious in their receipt of a gift which is not to their liking. Some people truly do not understand how much time and effort goes into a knitted gift. Some of them really don't care. Let it be. There are plenty of things in the world that each of us doesn't care about that others find to be of the utmost importance. Do NOT just blast people for that or for not liking the gift you gave them. It doesn't matter how long it took you to knit that queen-sized lace bedspread if it's not something that suits your grown son and his wife. Wailing about how long you worked on it and how they refuse to use it is only going to generate hurt feelings on both sides. Think about how women feel when their "clod" of a husband gives them something romantic like snow tires for Valentine's Day. Is it any different to give someone a knitted gift that isn't actually something that suits the recipient?
What I recommend is something I am going to term the "Gift Swatch". Most knitters use swatches to make sure they're achieving the correct gauge so that the resultant item will actually be the desired size. A "gift swatch" is something of a test to find out what sort of knitted item a potential recipient will like. Knitted presents aren't really things that you can just give blindly. You need to have some idea what the recipient will like, if you expect them to ever use it, assuming that USING the knitted gift is your actual goal. You can be sneaky and ask generic questions about hats or sweaters or just ask them to feel a particular ball of yarn. You can tell them that you'd like to knit them something but want to make sure it's something they'll enjoy. Someone else who posted recently suggested giving the recipient a list of possibilities and ask them to pick something out. I have taken my sister to the yarn shop and had her pick out yarn and a pattern for a sweater. It wasn't a complete surprise when she got it, but she still squealed with joy when she opened it because it was *exactly* what she wanted. Someone else several years ago said that in her family one person is chosen each year to receive a handknit sweater. Everybody else gets store-bought gifts that year. I believe the recipient chose the color and had input into the design. There is no rule that a gift must be a complete surprise in order to be successful. I would argue that for some gifts having it be 100% surprise is a great way to have
an unpleasant gift experience on both sides.
Anyway, it's something to think about. I'll get off my soap box now and go back to finishing my socks. :o)