Sweater curse

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Sweater

The "sweater curse" or "curse of the love sweater" is a term used by knitters to describe the belief that if a knitter gives a hand-knit sweater to a significant other, it will lead to the recipient breaking up with the knitter.[1] In an alternative formulation, the relationship will end before the sweater is even completed.[2] The belief is widely discussed in knitting publications, and some knitters claim to have experienced it.[3][4][5] In a 2005 poll, 15% of active knitters said that they had experienced the sweater curse firsthand, and 41% considered it a possibility that should be taken seriously.[6]

Despite its name, the "sweater curse" is treated in knitting literature not as a superstition governed by paranormal forces, but rather as a real-world pitfall of knitting that has rational explanations.[3][7] Several plausible mechanisms for the sweater curse have been proposed, but it has not been studied systematically.

Existence[edit]

The existence of the phenomenon is anecdotal, and may be related to confirmation bias; knitters may remember breakups more clearly after giving a hand-knit sweater, which represents a significant investment of money (typically over $100), effort (~100,000 stitches), time (as much as a year)[8] and romantic imagination.[4]

Proposed mechanisms[edit]

Although the existence of this effect remains uncertain, it is a common belief amongst the knitting population, and several plausible (and non-exclusive) mechanisms for the sweater curse have been suggested within knitting periodicals and books:

  • Unlucky timing. Knitting a sweater takes a long time, and the relationship dies of natural causes during its making.[9]
  • Rescue mission. The knitter senses subconsciously that the relationship is about to end, and knits a sweater as a dramatic gesture to save it.
  • Catalyst for analyzing the relationship. Giving or receiving a significant gift such as a sweater may cause either the giver or receiver to evaluate the relationship.[5] For example, the gift may seem too intimate, too domestic or too binding to the significant other. It can be seen as a signal that makes them realize that the relationship is not reciprocal, prompting them to end the relationship before it involves obligations.[9][10]
  • Aversion. The significant other may simply not want to wear anything hand-knit.[3] A hand-knit sweater can also subject them to ridicule, either because the sweater looks bad (i.e., poorly made or unfashionable) or conveys overly domestic connotations.[4][9][10]
  • Misdirected attention. The knitter loves their sweater a little too much, and pesters the significant other about the sweater.[9] Alternatively, the knitter loves to knit too much, and spends too much time with their knitting instead of with the significant other.
  • Insufficient gratitude. The knitter sees the sweater as a significant thing, having chosen the pattern and color carefully, and having invested hours of labor; the recipient sees it as just another sweater, and the resulting lack of gratitude leads to tension in the relationship.

Avoiding the curse[edit]

For many knitters, making a hand-knit gift is an emotional experience, an extended affectionate meditation on the person receiving the gift.[4] A metaphor commonly used by knitters is, "I knit my love into every stitch."[11] Since giving too significant a gift too early in a relationship can evoke apprehension,[9] knitters have been advised to match the knitted gift to the stage in the relationship, beginning with hats, mittens, scarves, or socks before graduating to sweaters.[12] Many knitters wait until marriage before making a sweater for a significant other,[5][9][12] or ask their affianced to sign a "pre-knitual agreement".[1]

Common-sense advice to knitters is that they should determine whether the recipient would ever wear a hand-knitted sweater.[3] Knitters have also been advised to involve the significant other in designing the sweater (e.g. in choosing its design, colors and materials] and follow their suggestions, even if the knitter objects.[13] Several books offer practical design advice for avoiding the sweater curse.[3][7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stoller, Debbie (2004). Stitch'n Bitch Nation. New York: Workman Publishing. p. 120. ISBN 0-7611-3590-1. 
  2. ^ Sarah Kerner (2006). "Having a ball with knitting". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 11 May 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Manning, Tara Jon (2003). Men in Knits: Sweaters to Knit that He WILL Wear. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press. ISBN 1-931499-23-3. 
  4. ^ a b c d Roghaar, L; Wolf M (2002). KnitLit: Sweaters and their stories. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80824-9. 
    Roghaar, L; Wolf M (2004). KnitLit (too): Stories from sheep to shawl. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 1-4000-5149-5. 
    Roghaar, L; Wolf M (2005). KnitLit the third: We spin more yarns. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 1-4000-9760-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Welsh, K (Winter 2002). "The sweater curse". Knitty 2. 
  6. ^ "Who Are We? The Anatomy of a Knitter, As Revealed in the KR Polls". Knitter's Review. 2005. 
  7. ^ a b Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie (2006). Knitting Rules! The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks. Storey Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1-58017-834-0. 
  8. ^ Righetti, Maggie (1990). Sweater Design in Plain English. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-05164-6. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Sweater curse". everything2.com. 2005. 
  10. ^ a b Kit is Knitting (2006). "My thoughts behind the sweater curse". kitknits.blogspot.com. 
  11. ^ Pearl-McPhee, S (2005). At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much. Storey Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-58017-589-0. 
  12. ^ a b Durant, Judith (2006). Never knit your man a sweater (unless you've got the ring). Storey Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1-58017-646-1. 
  13. ^ Feeley, P (2006). "Avoiding the curse of the Boyfriend Sweater". High Country Knitwear.