The curse of the boyfriend sweater


There’s a persistent bit of knitting folklore known as the curse of the boyfriend sweater; the version I’ve heard most often is that if you start a sweater for a boyfriend, he will dump you before the sweater is finished. (This assumes, of course, that you didn’t start knitting the sweater for that very reason. If you did, you have my sympathy, although I am concerned that you are not being properly medicated. See your doctor.

I don’t know why I’m so interested by the idea of a knitting curse. I’ve only knit one complete sweater and three-quarters of another one for my daughter (began it when she was two – she’s read the Hunger Games trilogy recently). Clearly, sweaters are not TV knitting for me; they’re I-need-to-concentrate-and-do-you-mind-eating-cereal-for-dinner-again knitting. As I’ve said before, I’m really a TV knitter, and hence unlikely to endanger any relationship with a lopapeysa.

I guess my take on it is this – do most men really like hand knit sweaters? There’s something about sweaters that suggests your mother dressed you. Maybe men leave because they dread having to wear one. Guys: seriously, just tell your knitter your beautiful sweater was eaten by a pack of feral dogs when you took it on a camping trip (…the damnedest thing, honey; they must have thought I was a sheep…). This is unlikely to trigger a repeat sweater, unless your sweetheart would secretly like to see you torn to shreds. In that case, I think you should leave. Quickly.

More vintage knitting patterns

knitting mag 4

Has anyone else heard of the “S-stripe”? According to the pattern, that is what’s on the front of the sweater on the left. I had no idea such a thing existed. Those colors are a little bright for me, though, and the headbands would make me feel like a shepherd in a Christmas pageant, so I will not try to reproduce this look.

The ensemble on the right, however…I wouldn’t wear it all at once, partly because my daughter would refuse to get in the car with me until I took it off, but I would definitely wear the blouse by itself, or the hat. I think I would also wear the sweater with a navy pleated skirt, but only with my hair in a Moomintroll style topknot.

This may just indicate that I need help; if any friends reading this would like to send sad pictures of me to one of those makeover shows, be my guest. I think I’m beyond the reach of Oprah.

Our Lady of the Unfinished Object

I can't believe this...they discontinued the sport-weight alpaca in "Caribbean Sunset."

They discontinued the sport-weight alpaca
in “Caribbean Sunset.” I may have to intercede.

These days, I am continually ripping out my knitting. I’m trying to figure out why – I mean, it’s really noticeable. Even non-knitters watch me and cringe. It’s not as if my knitting is getting any worse, although I admit I used to felt dropped stitches into oblivion. (Oh, felting – so forgiving. I love you.) And I never used to be a perfectionist about knitting. The closest I’m getting to an explanation is that I feel more confident in my skills, I’m trying more difficult projects, and I really want to master all these increases and decreases and sizing and my greatest fear…cables.

Knitting was something I never imagined I’d do (in spite of Grandma Sofia, She-Who-Knitted-Socks-In-The-Dark). It’s made me so happy. Being a mother was something I wanted, but couldn’t imagine doing well, mostly because my parents were odd, to the point that I did better in boarding school. No lessons there. But unimaginable motherhood has made me more than happy – it’s finally made me feel alive. I had definite goals for my academic career and my marriage, and they were both disastrous for me.

In spite of that, I know I need to plan ahead more, but there seems to be something seriously askew in the way I plan. For one thing, I think I plan on finishing things. I always think I’m going to arrive…somewhere. I never do. And I’ve become very tired of that lingering sense of unease over not being done.

So I salute everyone who has given up their guilt over unfinished objects and endeavors.

Speaking of planning: Rebecca and I just recorded a video on making “no sew” rag rugs that is so Lucy and Ethel (and so poorly edited by me) that I may make another one on my webcam that doesn’t involve misplacing tools and giggling. It’s meant primarily as promotional material for classes I’d like to teach, so maybe I shouldn’t seem quite so flighty. Either way, I’ll post some kind of how-to video this weekend, partly because la belle couseuse over at Silk and Wool requested instructions. Apparently she has a large pile of old baby clothes to dispose of and has made some beautiful crocheted rugs out of them. Head on over there if you like to crochet and have boxes of old clothing to use up. I certainly would never, ever hoard fabric like that. But I hear that other people do.

Vintage knitting patterns

She seems to be grazing. I suspect hallucinogenic plants.

She seems to be grazing. I suspect hallucinogenic plants.

The pattern is called “Cinnamon Toast.” It’s from Spinnerin , Volume 184, 1968.

My knitting app: be kind

This is not even version 1.0; it’s an infant. I made it at the Windows phone app studio, and ended up using a template designed for insect collections, which is why a beetle still appears at the beginning. There are only six stitches and three patterns on it, but the general setup works nicely, and should save me from overrunning my data allotment when I’m starting a new dishcloth in the ferry line.

My intention, in the near future, is to make a beetle-free app from scratch that incorporates a library of about fifty stitches, and will let me change the patterns I have stored. If any knitter with a Windows phone would like to look at this baby version and give me some feedback, I can (apparently) email you an address at the app studio where you can scan it on to your phone. If you have photos of swatches accompanied by instructions, email them back to me, and I will definitely send the final version to you.

Here’s a list of the stitches I’ve included on the app: feather and fan, seafoam, drop stitch, basketweave II, double moss stitch, and the seeded rib stitch.

And here’s a list of the patterns: the linoleum dishcloth, the Exeter hat, and the idiot dishcloth. (I can make idiot cloth without instructions – there’s a reason we call it idiot cloth – but it’s nice to have it on there to show beginning knitters.)

It’s not much, but I’m amazed I’ve gotten this far. I do love making things.