I have discovered many wonderful things in the knitting community. I have discovered a love for the art of handcrafting, a respect for taking things slow, an understanding that starting over from the very beginning isn’t a bad thing, a willingness to answer any question no matter how small. All this, and so much more, are things that I love dearly about this community of ours. However, there is one thing in the knitting world that I would very much like to see put to death: The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater.
We’ve all heard it. The warning that follows every knitter (whether she has any inclination towards having a boyfriend or not), that as soon as she knits a sweater for her man, she has signed her fate, and he will inevitably leave her. I’m unsure whether this applies to other relationships that a knitter may have, or if non-female knitters are similarly afflicted, but I do know that I have been warned since I started knitting at the tender age of 12 that I should never knit my boyfriend a sweater lest I wish to doom our relationship. What a rotten curse!
Do I really have to detail why I think this myth needs to be put to rest? How many of us view making knitwear for our loved ones as a sacred task? I can’t imagine any better way to express my love to someone than to spend hours creating them a mindful garment stitch by stitch. A knitter making a sweater for someone they love, whether its a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, or spouse, is something that should be celebrated. Those knitters who set out to express their love for someone by creating for them a personalized garment should be encourage, not warned away with cautionary tales of ruined love.
I have been knitting a sweater for my own boyfriend for close to three years. It is the longest it has ever taken me to finish a single project. The road to completion has been hampered by just about every knitting mistake in the book. Wrong sizes, wonky gauge, ill-fitting armholes, too-short sleeves, you name it, and I’ve probably done it with this sweater. I’ve changed the yarn once, and the pattern at least three times trying to get it right. I’ve learned a lot about knitting with this sweater, and I’ve learned a lot about love. I’ve come to reevaluate what knitting for someone other than myself can mean. I’ve started to understand more about what clothing can mean to us, how a handmade sweater can carry so much more than just the materials it took to make it.
If, when all is said and done, this sweater spells the end of my relationship, then so be it. If my relationship isn’t strong enough to withstand my knitting a sweater, then it probably wasn’t a very good relationship to begin with. But I highly doubt that will happen. I think this sweater will bring my man and I closer together. In fact, I know that it already has.
So what do you say, fellow knitters? Can you join me in the promise to kill the Boyfriend Sweater Curse? Instead of warning new knitters that a handmade sweater will cause their relationship to die, I plan on telling them that I have found hand knits to be one of the most powerful ways of sharing tradition, nourishment, and joy with those that I love. I hope you will do the same.