Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harumph, I say; harumph!

Minor guilty confession of the week: I read the Dear Prudence advice column on Slate.

Or at least I used to.

In a live chat column she wrote this week, a reader enquires:

  • Q. Help! Advice on Gift-Giving: I am a knitter who is knitting socks for my son's preschool class. I intend to give these socks as Christmas gifts this year. I am keeping them a secret as I would like them to be surprises. The only one who knows is the teacher as I needed her help getting the kids' feet sizes. My question revolves around the note I am going to include with the socks. Of course it will include washing and drying instructions (cold water and low heat); however, I am stumped about how to ask for the socks back if the kids don't like them, so they can be redistributed. Now, I don't really want the socks back for my own son; I would like the socks to go to someone who'd actually wear them. What would you do in this instance?
I'm mostly with the questioner - although I'd feel weird asking for the socks back for redistribution.

It's the answer that made my hair stand on end:
  • A: In this instance, I would stop with the socks and knit a sweater for my own child. While many people enjoy handmade scarves, there's a reason people stopped wearing lumpy, itchy, droopy handmade socks as soon as industrial looms were invented. It's sweet of you to want to make gifts for the entire class, but you're investing way too much time in a gift that won't be appreciated. If you want to do something handmade, maybe you should bake some treats. Or you could offer to come in and do a knitting lesson for the kids. Unless you're making socks they can hang by the fireplace for Christmas, no one wants handmade socks in their Christmas stocking.

On behalf of all the sock knitters in the world, I am truly offended that Ms. Prudence thinks that the socks we make are "lumpy, itchy and droopy". Perhaps we should launch a campaign to send her some socks so she can see the quality of what we make - and understand how very very wrong she is.

What do you think?


Johanna said...

I don't think I'd invest that kind of time/effort in HER. Have enough family and friends who are clamouring for the handmade socks I barely have time to crank out as it is. :-)

Bonnie said...

I think she doesn't deserve handmade socks. So there.

Kelli said...

My kids love the handmade socks I've made them. I've even made a pair for one of their little friends who also adores them. However, I agree with Ms. Prudence that it's waaaay too much effort to knit them for entire class and the kids would enjoy a cupcake just as much. Socks are just too valuable to knit for anybody.

Northmoon said...

Chances are she's right, especially for kids socks. Even with a note on care, most people wouldn't appreciate them (although it's not necessarily true that they would be lumpy etc.) the knitter should save her efforts for special people in her life, not strangers' children!

It's just tacky to give a gift and say 'give it back if you aren't going to use it'. Once you give a gift it's up to the recepiant to decide what they will do with it. You have no further ownership.

Bogie said...

I agree that Ms Prudence is not worthy of beautiful, comfy, custom-fitting socks. She's welcome to her opinion but I wish she'd keep them to herself... wishful thinking since people come to her for advice.

Ytknits said...

Children love knitted socks...at least all the ones I knit them for :-) Although it may seem like a huge project, the socks will be going to pre-school aged children (small feet) and the number of children in the class is not know to us. This is obviously a project that she thinks she can manage before Christmas. As for Ms Prudence's reply...maybe she had a bad childhood experience with wool??

Em Bozzo said...

In partial agreement only with the answer. I agree that knitting socks for the class would be too great an investment of time. But I wholeheartedly disagree with the "lumpy, itchy" part... she obviously is unaware of all the AMAZING fibres out there and what a few good knitting classes can do for fit and fashion!!!

PS -- now I'm looking foward even MORE to your upcoming Sock knitting class - yeah!

Anonymous said...

Don't send her socks, you'd be "investing too much time in a gift that won't be appreciated."

KarenJ said...

A) I certainly wouldn't waste any time ondoing anything more extreme than a note to Miss Prudence. She dertainly doesn't merit my precious knitting time! B) The mother in question might choos e to say womething tactful like "Should your child not be able to wear the socks for aome reason, such as a wool allergy. Please feel free to return them for school and I will make arrangements to send them to some organization which can use them for a child in need." Tactful way out. but then she has to be sure she does donate them!

TracyKM said...

Wow. I did nothing for the kids in ANY of my kids' classes (now in grades 5, 3, and SK), other than party treats when called upon. Some parents do loot bags at Christmas, with crayons, erasers, some little treats, but even those have been few and far between. Socks for every child in the class? I can't even imagine.
I do totally disagree with the attitude of Ms Prudence towards the socks themselves!!

Anonymous said...

Socks are in my queue and I long to learn to knit them...
Unless SOMEONE advises Ms. Prudence otherwise, she will continue to believe what she does about socks.

I'd send her a pair w/ a note on how appalling her response was if I were you.

As to the mother... c'est la vie... if the kids don't wear them or they are not appreciated..that is the way gift-giving sometimes goes... Maybe instead of asking for them back, she could provide the name of a charity as aa "drop point" for the parents to decide what to do.

I also realize I'm writing this to you, but you have no correspondence with the initial writer..