Here is the scenario: You have added 5 or 6 new projects to your queue of projects-to-be- completed-for-Christmas-gifts. You know it is ridiculous, but you want to shower all of your friends with samples of your Knitterly-Love. You are sure that they will be thrilled-after all, this gift of yarny-goodness takes with it a piece of your soul. (well, in actuality it probably has little pieces of your hair in it, at the least. If you have a cat, it is a rule of the Knitting Cosmos that your orange cat's hair will only be attracted to black or navy blue knits, they never invade like-colored yarn)
Seriously, think about it. You have put at least a couple of hours knitting this thing and during that time you are thinking nice thoughts about the recipient. You also will always remember the state of the world at the time this object of yours was knitted. Your projects mark your place in the timeline of the history of the world.
How does one determine a potential recipient's Knit-Worthiness? There is no questionnaire in Cosmo, Knitty, or even on Ravelry. It is in your gut and heart. You act on your instincts and hope you guessed right. Sometimes, you guess wrong.
Shawl-Worthy and Sock-Worthy people are extremely rare. There are only 3 in my life. Note: this does not include other knitters. Knitters give each other gift certificates to yarn stores.
To be Shawl-Worthy, the recipient must treasure your gift AND know how to wear it. Ever worn a lace shawl? Not just everyone can were one, you know. You can't give a person who wears snaggy jewelry a lace shawl. The unthinkable will happen and you will have a gi-normous hole ripped by a big-honking diamond to fix. The Shawl-Worthy are aware of this.
I gave my mom her first shawl a couple of years ago. It lived on the back of a chair like a lap throw. I was heartbroken. I knew she couldn't be wearing it. For some reason I picked it up and smelled it. Ah ha! Estee Lauder Youth Dew! Unmistakable evidence of her wearing! No question about Shawl-Worthiness! Last Christmas I gave her a second shawl--it is a Myrna Stahman design done in Blue Moon's STR lt.wt. Kaw-Kaw. She had already achieved Sock-Worthiness several years earlier. Again, you can't give socks to just anyone--not when you are knitting approximately 14,000stitches to make ONE sock. They have to be treated with love and respect, aka delicate cycle, lingerie bag, inside out, with Soak or Eucalan, air-dried. You can't put them on by tugging at the top rib. One puts them on as if they were silken panty hose (remember those? I don't even know where to buy them now).
Two Christmases ago I gave my sister-in-law a capelet made out of 2 skeins of Fiesta La Boheme. La Boheme you know, is pricey. I took the gamble. She passed the Shawl-Worthiness test with flying colors. She wore it all day that day and many times afterwards. In fact, I have it here with me to be laundered and blocked.
Most people can be Scarf-Worthy. How can they not be? Even a distant acquaintance could be Scarf-Worthy. We are talking here of something equal to the Fun Fur scarf, cast on 10 sts and when you run out you are done. Yarn cost is somewhere around $10 or less. This kind of scarf requires no pattern. You can knit it in the dark. Not the Taming of the Ewe type scarf, no written directions or graphs.
What happens though when you gift these things and never see them again? Do they fall into an abyss somewhere? Have they been re-gifted? Are they at the bottom of someone's dresser behind the drawers? Are the wedged between the person's car seat and console along with the old french fries, a couple of raisins and chocolate chip cookie bits? Did the person (gasp!) give them to the Thrift Store?
This has not happened to you, beware--it will. You pour love into every stitch and it is not appreciated. It is not treasured. You cannot even find it in the recipient's house. It has ceased to exist.
Most of us would love to see one of our creations loved so much that it is falling apart. It is OK for it to get dirty, snagged, holey, peed on and most of all, loved. That is why you knitted it. For it to be loved and used every single day. It is a tangible evidence of your love for this person and it represents your existence in their world.
Some people, sadly, prove to be Not Knit-Worthy.
I gifted scarves to my mom and dad's doctor and her assistant in Tucson a couple of months after my dad died. On the card, I thanked them for their care and told them that it would be OK for them to re-gift to someone they loved, that these things needed to keep someone warm. I felt good giving them and giving permission to re-gift, knowing that they would end up somewhere with someone who really liked them and would use them.
The bottom line is that you have to be really careful who you gift with your Knitterly treasures. Remember that it is part of your essence you are giving away, part of your soul. Realize that not everyone appreciates your creations the way that you do, and that's OK. Give those people a nice coffee mug next time.