A couple days ago, this was in my in box:
...I am trying to figure out my Christmas shopping for my mom, and I want to get her some knitting stuff...like needles and thread and maybe a helpful book or something. Do you know of any website I could get this stuff at and/or any suggestions? She tries to knit for like 10 min. but then messes up and loses interest. Thanks.
Does that just melt your heart, or what? Go ahead. Get a tissue. I'll wait.
The writer? My daughter's boyfriend. 20 years old, six-foot-three. That's all right -- get another tissue.
Wait. I have to get one. *snorrrrrt*
The last couple of times he was around me, he looked at me with interest and clearly had observed the sense of serenity I had when knitting, as well as my obvious excitement when I finished an item. I actually finished Plain Vanilla in his presence, and I could tell he was really REALLY interested in what I was doing, but more importantly, in how I was feeling and acting.
On more than one occasion he has said, "My mom needs a hobby like this," and other things along those lines.
Am I all farklempt, or WHAT? So of course I did what you all would do -- and don't you deny it! I offered to be his personal shopper. (to get his needles and "thread" and stuff.)
Today I got an admonition from him, later from my daughter, that his mom has REALLY sensitive skin, and that the superwash sportweight merino that Abigail knit him a scarf in last year, that he loves, is too scratchy for her. Well, geez. I don't know what is much softer than that merino, except cashmere. And straight cashmere....well, you know....wicked expensive, and maybe not the best thing for a very-beginner knitter, with not a lot of attention span and knitting patience, to cut her teeth on.
I consulted one of my personal oracles, who used her super-sensitive-skin spouse as the personal tester, and she threw out a few names. We did a couple of online searches together (well, she did most of the work) and I ended up with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino as my choice. Approved by Mr. Cassie.
I sent The Boy a list of colors from which to choose. I was going to go with the Super Chunky, because he said she'd just want to start with a scarf (don't cringe, Stephanie -- he said it, not me. Stephanie doesn't believe in first-time knitters starting out on scarves because of the boredom factor. I kind of agree, but that's why I was somewhat inclined to get the superfat yarn, so it would be over quickly.) But I agree with Cassie -- contrary to popular belief, it's actually harder for beginners to knit with super-chunky and big fat US11 needles. And besides, this is not ice cream, it's yarn. So I'm going to go with the aran weight. Cassie certified that it's just as soft as the super-chunky. Since she just happened to have some of each in her home. Errgh. I can't imagine what that woman's stash must look like.
But anyway, about the book in his request. I took the liberty of choosing Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch, on discount at buy.com. I think it is so well photographed and clearly written that it is a wonderful book for a beginner, and it still holds my interest now that I'm an advanced beginner - dare I even say intermediate - knitter. I have the advantage of being relatively new at this game, and although I've progressed fairly far fairly quickly, I can still remember exactly what it was like to try to understand the basics. And Sally does it so well. Also, the writing about knitting is so inviting that it might transform someone from "I mess up and lose interest after ten minutes" to, "Hey, this looks cool. She's so nice and she'll help me, so I'm going to try some more."
I'll round out the present with a set of nice wooden needles, a gauge, and one or two other little odds and ends. But isn't it wonderful to see a young man who cares about his mom so much? It makes me all warm and fuzzy and starts to restore my faith in mankind a little bit -- and by that I mean "male" kind.