I know I've left it a little late, but I thought I'd pass on my advice regarding gifts for knitters. As an avid knitter myself, experience tells me that most non-knitters shy away from purchasing knitting-based gifts for one or both of the following reasons: a) they don't know what to purchase or; b) they're worried they'll buy the wrong thing.
Now, I really believe that in some cases it's pretty easy for a non-knitter to buy a great gift for their knitting friend or partner. As when you buy other gifts, choosing something they'll like can come down to paying attention to the individual or their possessions. It's worth keeping an eye on your knitter throughout the year, so you can get an idea of what sorts of colours they like as well as what sort of things they like to make. Additionally, when they make a comment about something they like connected to knitting, it's worth taking a note down of what they've said. (This goes for all occasions, not just Christmas. If you keep track, you need never wonder about knitterly gifts again.) One other thing: if you're thinking of buying yarn, please make sure you check what yarn brands/types they use most regularly. If required, please snaffle a label or two (we usually lose them anyway).
Of course, I'm aware that most people (read: men in particular) don't have the foresight to plan gifts appropriately and this extends WAY beyond knitting. This is why I've put a guides together, of general things I believe most knitters would appreciate for Christmas. Of course, please don't take my word as gospel on this and, for the love of god, please make sure you check that they haven't already got some of the things included. Do note, however, that for most of us, regardless of how much yarn we already have, we won't be disappointed with more so long as it is the kind we like. Equally, some things you can never have enough of. For example: needles, and in my case, sock yarn.
Addi Click Interchangeable Needles Set: £86.75 | Lanolips Lovely Lanolin™ Intense Hand Balm: £9.18 | Johnston's of Elgin Cashmere Knitting Yarn: £19.95 per 50g | Clover Steel Amour Crochet Hooks: £93.77 | Pony Knitting Needle Point Protectors: £0.75 | Cath Kidston Woodland Rose Craft Bag: £26.00 | Regia Fluormania Color Sock Yarn: £7.99 | Cath Kidston Little Leaves Tape Measure: £5.00
With knitting tools, it is very easy to succumb to wear and tear or loss. At various times in my knitting life, I have found that it is easy to spend more money on replacing cheap tools than investing in a higher cost quality version or kit. This is why I have recommended the Addi Click Interchangeable Needles. Not only is it really expensive to buy fixed circulars in different lengths and needle sizes, they also wear very quickly. With the Addis, it is easy to replace the odd cable or buy new tips if you need another size up. Best of all, you can change needle sizes with ease. Although there are other interchangeable sets (i.e. KnitPro/KnitPicks) on the market, I personally believe the Addis are best of all. I have had two sets of the KnitPros and always find that, the twist join between cable and needle tip comes loose. The 'twist and click' of the Addis ensure it is much harder for the tips to come apart from the cable and, therefore, much less KnitRage (It's a thing, trust me).
Whilst I'm talking about quality, also recommended the Clover Steel Amour Crochet Hooks. Now, I know knitting and crochet are two totally different crafts: I do both. However, all too often, I require a hook to help pick up stitches or add an edging to my knitting projects. These crochet hooks are wonderful to use; I can hold mine for hours without cramp and they are my hook of choice to work on my Granny Square blanket with. Trust me, they are a great investment – whether it be for a knitter, a crocheter or someone who enjoys both.
Now, it may have escaped your notice, but knitting involves quite a lot of hand use. If you are using course fibres frequently, it can be very tough on the hands, particularly if you are prone to dry hands or chilblains in winter. As someone who used to row at University, and who also suffers from poor circulation and chilblains in my hands , knitting can take a real toll on my already quite battered hands. One of the best hand care tips I received from another rower concerned lanolin. This is a natural substance that is present in pure wool: it is the natural wax produced by the sheep to protect the animal and its fibre from the elements. Thus, if you have a bit on your hands when knitting with wool or a wool blend, it works well in smoothing/protecting the fibre as well as your skin. I can confirm it is great on rowing callouses too. I'd really recommend it for hardcore knitters, as well as anyone who suffers from dry or damaged skin on their hands. Lanolips Lovely Lanolin™ Intense Hand Balm is excellent as it contains rose oil to disguise the naturally 'smeepy' smell that emanates from pure lanolin within a hand cream.
All of the items I've discussed so far are pretty bulky, so you know what that means? That's right: a bag recommendation. Personally, I love the craft bags and totes that are available at Cath Kidston. I have been using one of their bags for my knitting for over five years now, but it still looks brand new and holds an absolute tonne of yarn. This Woodland Rose Craft Bag is different to mine, but the bucket shape would make it great for working out of: you could keep the yarn in the bag and knit straight from it. As well as the bag, another Cath Kidston essential of mine are the beautiful oilcloth tape measures. I own this Little Leaves Tape Measure, and have a couple of others with different patterns hiding in some of my project bags. Trust me when I say: knitters will always need a spare tape measure. Another thing we can't do without? Point Protectors. Once you've sat on the point of a small knitting needle, you'll understand why!
I guess by this point you're wondering why I've left the obvious items right to last. Yes, I'm referring to the yarn. Well, I guess you could say I'm leaving the best till last. See that pink ball of yarn in the top left? That's pure cashmere: the ultimate for any fibre artist. At the time of writing, my own dream present would be two balls of Johnston's of Elgin Cashmere Knitting Yarn. Though I admit that I'd love enough to knit a sweater (at least 6-10 balls, eep), I accept that this is out of my budget and that of most other fellow knitters. I've set my sites lower: I'd like two balls to knit a pair of prize bed socks.
As cashmere is so fragile and impractical in terms of it's durability, for ordinary day-to-day winter socks I'll continue to use regular sock yarn. I have a few balls of Regia Fluormania Color Sock Yarn hidden away in my sock yarn box. Come to mention it, the socks I am currently wearing are made from that very lurid shade I've posted above. (For anyone looking, that's 'Neon' Rainbow' and, so far, the socks have not lost any of their brightness).
That's about it from me right now. So, knitters, what suggestions would you make for non-knitters buying knitterly gifts? Let me know in the comments below.