Monday, October 23, 2006

My thoughts behind the Sweater Curse

She had worked seven long months on that sweater in secret. She had stolen articles of clothing, she had frogged, she had cried bitter, passionate tears (though not while knitting the blasted thing in case it felted), sweated, lost sleep, drank too much coffee and admired it once done. It was her albatross. It was her Lover's Sweater. He had accepted that sweater with hesitant grace and he wore it on their next date and the one after that. And then...then it was over. He left her an email explaining that he didn't really 'feel' the love and that he was sorry that it couldn't work but assured her that she would find a better man who deserved her better and that was it. And he didn't even bother giving that sweater back! For all she knew, it was lining the bottom of his dog's carrier! Oh why had she not listened to her knitting group? Why did she not believe in The Sweater Curse?

Most cultures are endowed with a certain bit of mythology. But I would never dream that knitting would have one until I heard of the Sweater Curse, whispered like one would talk about some neighbor who had come down with the plague or lice. A Sweater Curse? But then I heard the stories, not unlike the one that I pulled out of my...nose. But I have to wonder, what's the truth behind the Sweater Curse?

I have a few theories. The one that makes the most sense is the Aunt Myrtle theory aka the Repressed Childhood theory. Here's how I think it goes: So you've found yourself a new beau. He's smart, he's sensitive, and he thinks it's really cute that you knit. Or, at least, he's never objected to when you whipped out your half-finished sock when you were both waiting in line to pay for that frozen pizza (so romantic!) or when you were both snuggling (please say that you didn't, I have a strong opinion on how snuggling is far more enjoyable than yarn pushing. Perhaps this makes me a heretic) while watching anything but football or a chick flick (which ends up being unexpectedly gorey and stupid on the SciFi Channel). He may have even requested a skull cap which you merrily knit up for him in a fortnight.

Fine, awesome, he seems to be alright with your knitting here and there. But then again, the magic is in the air, he can accept your knitting like you can accept his odd habit of eating a whole orange, rind and all. And you think that he is a wonderful man and worthy of--dun dun Dun--a sweater! You work hard and have it done right in time for his birthday or Christmas or Samhain. And as he unwraps the paper and pulls out the physical manifestation of all your hard work, love, and devotion, he's taken back to that one day when he was five and Aunt Myrtle made him that awful thing of browns and oranges and puce that was three sizes too small that his mother made him wear every single time this colorblind, deviant old aunt visited, which somehow suddenly seemed to increase exponentially! And your love looks up at you and tries to hide the aghast feeling that mysteriously, you've turned into Aunt Myrtle! It doesn't matter that the sweater is beautiful, just his size, and in all his favorite colors. No, now he's feeling the noose of Obligation tighten around his neck like a Fun Fur scarf. There is foreboding that feels as bad as the beginning of The Grudge. He knows that you'll be hurt and upset if you don't see him wearing that sweater. And he doesn't know if he can take that kind of pressure!

So...he leaves. And he takes the sweater with him because he doesn't REALLY want to hurt your feelings and figures that it would be a swift and brutal blow to just give it back.

Now, I act like I know aaalll about it. Trust me, I don't. I haven't had a boyfriend for over 7 years. And if I did knit for that one, I'd feel even stupider about the relationship than I already do.

So, perhaps you should save that sweater for after marriage and a child or two. Then he's already snared and if he leaves, he's gotta pay child support and really, he'd feel pretty dang stupid to divorce on grounds of a sweater, though heaven knows divorces have happened for sillier reasons. For now, divulge your love in humble scarves and hats. It'll be easier on your pocketbook, yarn stash, and heart.


  1. Do me a favor? Submit this to Yarnival. The link is on the sidebar on my site. I swear I will forget because I am currently sick and not thinking coherently but I will be sorry if I don't remember this when I'm doing the editing.

    Pretty please? ;-)

  2. Heehee, this is a funny, funny post. I think you've hit the nail on the head. I'm actually not even quite convinced it's worth knitting a sweater for a man that you've already snagged! I made Ryan a scarf last year (merino/cashmere) and he NEVER wears it, ever! Men.

  3. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that this submission made it into this month's Yarnival! You can view the issue on my blog. Thanks for submitting! Have a GREAT DAY!

  4. Lauren11:16 AM

    Kit, I just read your article and have decided we must be kindred spirits. I'm a long time knitter, I never knit for my beau AND we've also been together for seven years. How great. Anyhow if you'd ever like to chat about it, email me at lauren_e_anderson(at) I don't have a blog, i know gasp, but would love to hear from you.

  5. I was going to write a long comment here, but decided it was so ridiculously long that I had to make it its own post on my blog:

  6. What a great post. I'm not sure I believe that a sweater can kill a healthy relationship, but I definitely think that one that's doomed could be done in by something that screams, "Commitment!" from its cast-on to its bind-off.

  7. Hee hee, the noose of obligation like a fun fur scarf - LOL!

  8. Thanks for the ammunition - my boyfriend keeps asking me to knit for him, and I keep telling him about the Sweater Curse . . .