The Boyfriend Curse: Beware of Gifting Your Knitting

What is the “boyfriend curse?”  The boyfriend curse kicks in when we knit something for a loved one, a boyfriend, and expect them to appreciate all the time, effort, skill that went into choosing just the right pattern, just the right yarn, and then, the knitting, the skill, the time…you get the idea.  Too often, the response from the our loved one is less than enthusiastic, making us feel at best, unappreciated.  The result is usually fights and sometimes, breaking up.  Hence, the boyfriend curse.

Can the boyfriend curse be avoided?  Of course, but we need to re-think some things.

Who do we knit for? Who should we knit for?

The answer to the question of who do we knit for is simple:

We always knit for ourselves!

As knitters, we like to have someone in mind who we are knitting for. Even charity knitting involves knitting for someone we can picture in our minds while we knit. But we knit because we love to knit.

The recipient is just an excuse to knit.

It starts before the first stitch is cast on.

Sometimes we know who we want to knit for and choose the pattern to suit them (hopefully). Sometimes we spot a pattern we just have to make and then decide who we’ll give it to when it’s done.

The second approach makes it really clear that the recipient is an afterthought.

Both approaches begin at the same place:  the knitter’s desire to knit.

Then we choose the yarn in much the same way as we chose the pattern.

Then we knit, thinking with every stitch, of how much our recipient will appreciate the final project. We imagine the smiles on their faces as they snuggle under the lapghan or play in the snow in their one-of-a-kind hat, scarf, and mittens set.

Somehow, we always expect, regardless of how we get there, that the recipient will love and appreciate our project as much as we do.

This is the foundation of the Boyfriend Curse.

The Boyfriend Curse Averted

I don’t have direct experience with the Boyfriend Curse, but I was a player in someone else’s Boyfriend Curse.

I have many interests besides knitting, but like knitting, most of them involve doing things with my hands. In other words, I tend to go to my local hardware store fairly often.

One day I walked in wearing one of my knitted creations, EZ’s Snail Hat, I believe, knitted with a solid color yarn in light teal and a thin strand of a multicolored alpaca yarn. It was a very soft, warm hat, as well as colorful and unique. [Sorry, no picture available, but this one is close to the base color.]

The guy at the counter immediately pegged it as a handmade hat and asked me about it. I was surprised as guys generally don’t pay any attention to that kind of thing, or at least they don’t comment on it.

It turned out his girlfriend did a lot of crocheting, but she refused to make anything at all for him. He couldn’t understand what was going on.  Why wouldn’t she make something for him?  Even something small, like a hat?

It had gotten to the point where it was bothering him enough that he was willing to have a conversation with a relative stranger about it.

As he described the situation, it seemed to me that his girlfriend was afraid of the Boyfriend Curse. So I explained how the Boyfriend Curse works and that she was probably refusing to make anything for him because she wanted to keep him around.

The guy was very grateful for the information. I could tell our conversation had really cleared something up for him.

About three weeks later, I heard he and his girlfriend were engaged.

I’m sure the moral of this story is something about open and honest communication and never taking each other for granted, but I do wonder if the guy ever got the hat he wanted.

This story may have been about a crocheter, not a knitter, but most of us do both and I suspect the Boyfriend Curse applies to crocheters and seamstresses just as much as it does to knitters.

Lessons from the Boyfriend Curse

  1. We knit because we love to knit.  Period.
  2. Giving away our work is perceived as an important part of the process, but it doesn’t have to be.
  3. Expecting others to feel the same way about our work as we do is a mistake.
  4.  Gifts without strings are the best gifts.  If we can learn to love the process without being attached to the outcome, we can enjoy our knitting (or crocheting or sewing) without getting our feelings hurt when other don’t appreciate everything that went into our creations.
  5. It’s enough that we love what we do.  We don’t need to justify our hobby/passion by giving it to someone.

That last one is my favorite.  How about you?  Any experiences with the Boyfriend Curse?  Any new thoughts on who you should knit for?

6 thoughts on “The Boyfriend Curse: Beware of Gifting Your Knitting”

  1. Why do you call it the boyfriend curse? Is this some sort of knitting style? I am not really much of a knitter but it is something I would do as a hobby in my older age. I believe that I am still too young to be worrying about that. But that you for this informative article. 

    • Hi Daniel,

      Wow! I need to fix this! It seems I left some stuff out of the post.Thanks for letting me know. 

      “The Boyfriend Curse” is a term widely used in the knitting world.  It’s not a style of knitting, it’s because when a knitter makes a gift for her boyfriend the result is usually hurt feelings, followed by fighting, and breaking up.  

      I’m glad you were able to find something useful in the article.  BTW, knitting is good for you no matter what your age.



  2. This website brings back nice memories of when I was very young and also made me feel very emotional because my late grandmother thought me how to knit before she be died. Knitting is indeed beautiful and it can produce the best of clothings and also other designs. I love the motto and the name as well

    • Hi Collins,

      You aren’t the first guy to tell me that knitting is special to you because of memories of a loved one. 

      I hope you continue to knit and find comfort and beauty in it.

      Thank you.


  3. I haven’t run into the Curse yet. To be fair, my husband and I were married before I took up knitting – but I’ve still managed to avoid feeling like my work is unappreciated the times I’ve thrown something together for him.

    One of the things that helps is having involved him in the process from the beginning. If he hasn’t explicitly said he wants it, I’m not going to make it. Then, whether I’m working from an existing pattern and just need to make some adjustments to get the color contrast to work, or we find something that I’ll have to figure out how to approximate as I go along, I’ll bring him along for picking out the yarn, show him texture stitch images so we can agree on which one best approximates what we’re going for, and in general get him involved on the design/engineering side of the project.

    Another is being open to him about how much work and patience it takes. Most of the time when I’m knitting, it’s while we’re spending time together, so he sees how slowly the project goes. And that means that if I need to make sure something is actually going to fit (gauge? What gauge?), he’s right there for me to check on.

    Last, all of the projects were either something he definitely needed (last year’s gloves after we had to move to a much colder climate), something that stretched my design abilities/would make an excellent conversation starter when talking shop, or both. Right now I’m working on Gift Project #3, modifying a cockatoo scarf into a cockatiel scarf.

    (I was hoping to go the full way and teach him to knit, or maybe see if he could learn to crochet and cover for my weaknesses, but it turns out he’s more suited to needle felting. Ah, well!)

    • It sounds like you have a process all worked out, but I’m curious if it works with other as well. I know my daughters really don’t understand all that goes into knitting and are very resistant to me trying to explain anything about it. So, kudos to your husband for making the effort to listen and understand, as well as you for your communication skills!




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