7 Ways to Keep Your Selfish Knitting to Yourself

We’ve all been there: you’re happily knitting along on your favorite sock, minding your own business, and BAM! Someone comes along and asks if you can make them a pair of leg warmers.

Depending on who is making the request, there are a number of reasonable responses. For a small handful of friends and family, the answer is a wholehearted “Yes!” You would be delighted to take time from your selfish knitting and knit for them. Blessed are the knitworthy; may they always be warm.

If it’s a random stranger asking for a gift, you can tell them off for rudely interrupting you in the middle of counting stitches and explain where exactly they can shove their request. (What kind of jerk asks a stranger to knit for them? Do they also wander up to someone eating a PB&J and ask them to cater a dinner party?)

“I’m pretending you didn’t just make fun of my knitting and then ask for a hat.”

And then there’s the third group: people who are decidedly not worth knitting for, but with whom you have to maintain a cordial relationship. Coworkers, extended family, and hairstylists fall in this category; you have no interest in making a shawl for your spouse’s great-aunt Patty, but you’d also like to keep Thanksgiving with the in-laws as unawkward as possible. For these situations, here’s a list of ready-made excuses for not knitting for other people.

How Not to Knit for Other People

1. Fake an injury.

Did you know that a killdeer will fake an injury to distract predators from its ground nest? Just as you may fake an injury to distract from your own selfish knitting…

You’d really like to make them a scarf, but that project is too heavy/too light, the needles are too small/too big, you’re allergic to wool/cotton/cashmere/acrylic, etc. Unless it’s your doctor asking, they’ll never know otherwise.

2. Tell them your base rate is $500 plus supplies.

In addition to making an amazing banana bread, Mojo the helper monkey will also keep you perfectly groomed.

Everyone wants a handknit sweater, but no one is willing to pay up. Just to be on the safe side, be sure to include a helper monkey on your supply list. Dinner’s not going to make itself while you’re busy knitting!

3. Carry a stunt project at all times.

Um, kind of busy here. Again.

It may look like you are in the midst of a perfectly well-knitted cardigan, but show off a variegated rainbow acrylic sweater with dropped stitches and an upside-down sleeve as an example of the project you’re proudest of.

4. Tell people you made a pact with the Dark Lord and he’s coming to claim your soul as soon as you finish knitting this Shetland shawl perfectly.

“Soon your soul will be mine!”

5. Say yes and hope that they forget about it.

Nobody ties a string around their finger to remember stuff anymore… or do they?

This works surprisingly well as a tactic. Most people are very out of sight, out of mind when it comes to you and your knitting prowess and won’t remember they asked. Of course, this probably means they’ll ask again at a later date. Lather, rinse, repeat.

6. Pretend you have an infinite queue of projects already.

“Of course, I’ll make you a sweater! I’ll add it to my list right now.”

(Let’s be real: most of us don’t really need to pretend.) You’ll get right to their project after finishing a blanket for your mom, a new dog sweater for your pooch, a wrap for your friend, a tea cozy for the church bazaar . . .

7. Play dumb.

I have no idea what you are asking me.

Most of the time, people recognize that it’s rude to flat-out ask for something, so they dance around the topic hoping you’ll volunteer your services. Don’t fall for it; stick to your selfish-knitting guns.

Them: “It’s so hard for me to find socks that fit.”
You: “That must be a challenge.”
Them: “I’ve tried on every single pair of socks in town, and not a single one fits my feet!”
You: “Have you tried Amazon? They have everything!”
Them: “I think I need custom-made, handknit wool socks.”
You: “It’s a shame how the industrial revolution really destroyed the bespoke clothing industry. Pass the chips?”

By using these simple tactics, the next project in your knitting queue will never again be bumped by an unexpected shawl for great-aunt Patty. Knit what you want, when you want!

What excuses have you used to not knit for other people?


Focus Your Selfish Knitting Power



  1. Alison J at 8:33 am September 8, 2017

    My usual response is, “I would be glad to teach you to knit that!”

    • Irene F at 5:01 pm September 8, 2017

      My response is also, I would be happy to teach you. I have never had anyone take me up on it.

  2. Barbara G at 8:46 am September 8, 2017

    My boss once asked me to make a sweater like the one I was wearing and how much would I charge. I said: “I bought this yarn (one of the cotton blend Noro yarns) on a half-price close-out and it cost me $60. I probably couldn’t get anything for close to that price, so let’s just say a good deal would be $100 for the materials. It would probably take @35-40 hours to make, so even charging $5/hr., my labor would be $175-200.” She stared and blinked slowly and whispered – “okay, thanks anyway.”

    Most non-knitters think knitting is a cheap way to make things.

    • Pernilla L at 5:14 am September 10, 2017

      Yeah, a couple of times people have told me that what I knit is beautiful and I could knit stuff and sell it to make money! Then I ask them if they would pay what a hand-knit sweater or shawl is really worth in materials and work-hours, and tell them an estimate. Not a single person so far has said, “Absolutely!”

    • Lissa H at 7:32 am September 20, 2017

      My other reply is “$2,000”

  3. Janice L at 11:07 am September 8, 2017

    I like to tell them that I would be delighted to knit them a sweater, and tell them that they would need to pay for the yarn and how many ounces would be needed. At this point they are still shaking their heads that “yes” they would be happy to do that.
    Then I drop the bomb and tell them that I am only willing to knit with qiviut which costs about $100.00 per ounce. That usually ends the discussion.

  4. Donna R at 11:46 am September 8, 2017

    i usually add the caveat “they will need to be handwashed” when someone asks for handknitted wool socks. They say ‘thank you, um…’ and don’t ask again. Those who do get handknitted hats, scarves, mitts, or socks and don’t say ‘thank you’ (as 20 something granddaughters did ) don’t ever get handknits again!.

  5. Kristina M at 6:25 pm September 8, 2017

    I’d love to knit a shawl for my husband’s great-aunt Patty. But there are plenty of other friends whom I love dearly but not quite well enough to crochet that cute blanket for their grandchild I’ve never met nor likely will, since I’m not also friends with the child’s mother. But all it took to turn that one away was to work up a swatch in the pattern to figure out how long it would take and notify the friend of just how much time it would take. (It was a cute pattern so I didn’t mind making the swatch or pinning the pattern for future reference.) She had no idea of the time commitment of a simple blanket and is a good enough friend to not want to ask that of me. I did offer to spend an hour or two teaching her how to make it but she didn’t take me up on that offer. I guess she didn’t want to commit that much time either.

  6. Pernilla L at 5:26 am September 10, 2017

    I’ve told people that I knit for pleasure, to keep myself sane, and that if I would start to knit on commission, it would be work, not pleasure, and I would slowly turn insane, and would they really want that? 😉
    Now I can also tell them that I knit partly to keep my incipient arthritis at bay, but that I also need to be mindful of not over-stressing those joints. So, sorry, no, there’s no room for non-pleasure projects.

  7. Amy C at 12:00 pm September 10, 2017

    Agree! To all of the above! Sometimes I think people ask just to act like they’re interested in something I love to do so much…then when I go on and on about the time commitment and yarn cost they back away slowly. Biggest mistake I made in this arena was making two adorable baby outfits for a coworker’s twin grand babies, I said yes because she was very persistent and said she would pay for them…plus, you know, baby stuff goes pretty fast,right? Yarn cost: $36.00 for some decent hobby lobby cotton, payment :$40.00. Yup. It was like selling beer at a baseball game and the drunk guy says, “You can keep the change, dude!” Totally clueless. I knit for who I want, when I want, that’s why it’s called a hobby, go get one, and buy your knitted goods from somebody who does it for a living.

  8. Susan C at 6:17 am September 11, 2017

    I disagree with calling knitting things you want to knit “Selfish Knitting”! I resent the constant assumption that knitting should be done for other people and, if you do do something for yourself, it’s a shameful indulgence.

    If our hobby was DIY, no one would call it “Selfish Decorating” to decorate my own home would they?

    …Having said that I have scared off a few “Knit requesters” with the suggestion that they come around and do 80 hours of free housework for me while I do 80 hours of free knitting for them…..

  9. Beverly B at 5:11 pm September 14, 2017

    I knit for myself all the time. I just don’t make anything for myself. I make items for my Etsy shop. the act of knitting is the gift for me. that’s what makes me happy. The Etsy shop is my business. That makes it easy when someone asks me to make something, I refer them to the shop where they can purchase.

    Of course, people sometimes want it for free and unless they are family either by birth or choice, that doesn’t happen.

  10. Lissa H at 7:31 am September 20, 2017

    My stock answer to “will you make me one?” is “No, but I’ll teach YOU how to make it.”


  11. Karen L at 1:18 pm January 27, 2018

    I generally play dumb. But if someone is persistent, I’ll offer to make a sweater or whatever they’ve asked for, but they’ll have to buy the yarn to my standards (top quality yarn, no acrylic, polyester or cotton). Then we’ll choose a charity that’s mutually agreeable, and I’ll make the item when my current projects are done. I leave the donation amount to the person. I have yet to feel I’ve lost money on the deal.

  12. apc4923 . at 2:50 pm November 6, 2018

    I always say sure, but here’s the deal. YOU have to find the pattern you want, and buy it. YOU also have to find the fiber the pattern calls for, and buy TWICE the amount called for. Then YOU give ME the pattern and the extra fiber as payment. So far, only one person has done this, and twice at that.

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