I have a question about knitting etiquette. Should you point out to the recipient of a knitted gift, if they choose to wear the gift inside out? I made a cabled hat for a friend, and she posted a lovely picture of it being worn to Instagram, but it’s inside out. I feel it would somehow be unkind to point it out, but at the same time, it’s inside out! What would you do?
The Tongue-Tied Gifter
My dear Gifter,
Your friend loves this hat so much, she took a picture of herself wearing it, and she proudly shared this photo with all of her online friends. We don’t do this for things—or people—who don’t matter. Not everybody appreciates the gift of a good handknit, but you, my friend, have found a worthy recipient.
As for the fact that she photographed the hat inside out? To tell you the truth, I have a thing for the insides of knitted items. Whenever someone shows me a handknit, I impulsively flip it inside out. It’s so much more intimate in there. You can find glimpses of the knitter’s true handwriting, the seams and yarn changes and darned stitches forming a very personal signature. The fact that your friend instinctively turned to that side, that most intimate side of yourself, is a lovely thing.
Here’s what worries me. Instagram is a public place. And there exists an entire segment of humanity whose sole purpose is to correct other people’s mistakes online. (I confess I yelp triumphantly whenever I find a typo in The New York Times.) It’s only a matter of time before someone discovers this picture and takes it upon him or herself to point out your friend’s mistake.
And when that time comes, I wonder how your friend will feel. Not about the hat or even her photo of it, but about the fact that you saw what she’d done, you could have said something, and you chose not to.
I’m a little raw about this particular issue because of something that happened earlier this week. I’d left my flashy hair salon—the same place and same stylist I’ve seen for years—feeling glorious and invincible. I smiled at everyone, my hair blowing in the wind, pretending I was one of those people who wakes up and looks like this every day. That is, until I discovered the bit of broccoli lodged between my front teeth—broccoli from a lunch I’d eaten before my haircut.
It’s taken me years to feel comfortable when I get my hair cut. (Perhaps your friend feels similarly about posting selfies?) It’s the ultimate vulnerability, glasses off, wet hair pasted to my head, every wrinkle and sag and square foot of my forehead painfully illuminated by the bright lights of the salon. Blink and it’s high school all over again.
After the first flash of mortification faded, I confess I felt a little betrayed by my stylist-slash-friend. He was my one trusted ally. Why hadn’t he said anything?
All we needed was a quick moment of embarrassment, a laugh, a swift correction, and we would have continued on our merry way. But that moment didn’t come, and I was left just a tad baffled and hurt as to why. Which makes me worry what will happen to your friend when that Instagram comment arrives and she discovers her own mistake.
Friendships matter. They get us through hard times, they reassure us we aren’t alone in this world. We build them on honesty and trust—the kind of trust that includes alerting us if our fly is unzipped or, please, if we have a bit of broccoli stuck between our teeth.
The fact that you asked about this suggests it’s bugging you—and things that bug us have a way of hanging around and making a mess of things. My suggestion? Do your friend a favor, do your friendship a favor, and simply tell her. Be gentle and loving and swift. Smile.
“I’m so happy you love the hat,” you can say. “That cable pattern was actually designed to be worn the other side out, but I really love how that side looks on you.”
And maybe, for good measure, ask, “Would you like a scarf to go with it?”