So, I really had no intention of writing the following essay, but after mulling it over for a few days, I figure I may as well keep it, and anyone who just wants photos can just scroll on down.
Today, dear knitters, I would like to talk to you a little bit about gift knitting. Now, this isn’t an early jump on holiday knitting (that is a topic for another time), but rather a discussion of a curious knitting phenomenon known to many simply as ‘The Curse’, ‘The Sweater Curse’, ‘The Boyfriend Sweater Curse’, or as Wikipedia has informed me (yes, academics, you may cringe at my choice of sources, but thankfully this is far from a scholarly article) ‘The Curse of the Love Sweater’.
Now, I am sure many (most?) of you are familiar with The Curse. For those of you who are either new to knitting, or blissfully unaware of the danger that lurks in your stash (no, not Yarn Gnomes), The Sweater Curse is rumored to befall any unsuspecting knitter who decides to make a sweater for her boyfriend (this is the historical version, modern takes do include men knitting for ladies, men knitting for men, and ladies knitting for ladies, of course). It holds that if a knitter gives their partner a hand-knit sweater, the relationship is doomed to end shortly thereafter (in some cases, the end of relationship precedes the completion of the sweater).
Lest you think that all hope is lost for knitting your beau something that shows them just how you feel, I must inform you that there are many theories about how to avert The Curse! One such theory is that since the curse only strikes those who gift boyfriend (or girlfriend) sweaters, you’d better put a ring on it (in fact, there is a book published a few years back about just that ‘Never Knit Your Man a Sweater – Unless You’ve Got the Ring)‘. Another popular solution is deceptively simple: to avoid The Sweater Curse, don’t knit a sweater! Hats, mitts, scarves, pillows, stuffed toys, everything but sweaters (and maybe vests, the jury is out on that) is fair game.
Of course, none of this has been empirically proven, but it is a pervasive belief in the knitting world. But is it just a superstition, or is there possibly some merit to the myth? Many people would argue that there is some truth in the stitches. For example, sweaters take a lot of time to knit, and a relationship may peter out on it’s own, and bad timing can be blamed. Or perhaps the knitter gets carried away and spends more time with needles in hand than their partner would like. Then there’s the emotional side – after all a sweater is an incredibly thoughtful, involved item, and someone may not feel comfortable accepting that level of commitment as a gift (especially if they are not ready to respond with a similar level of commitment). Some people simply don’t like handknit sweaters, and no matter how fantastic this particular one is, they won’t be swayed. Or they may love handknit sweaters, just… not this one. Or… well, the possibilities are endless.
There is much to take into account when deciding to knit a sweater (or anything) as a gift for a significant other, and ultimately, only you can decide if it (the relationship, or the sweater) is worth the risk and the effort. All this being said, for every personal tale you hear of The Curse, I am sure that you will be able to find another story of success and gratitude. So knit on, but perhaps with some caution and forethought.
With all the prose out of of the way, I would like to showcase a brand new, free pattern for all of you! In the spirit of men’s knitting (and I do have more posts planned, with a bit more content geared towards decision making), here is my personal Basic Men’s Toque pattern. Of course this can be adapted to fit differently, and by no means is it limited to men, but if you have a guy in your life who asks for a plain, unassuming, no-frills hat… this is it.
Worked up in an Aran weight yarn (sample shown is in Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester, 2 balls of colour 3 – charcoal), it’s a quick knit (one or two evenings, a weekend at most) that is sure to please. It would be great worked in two colours, or worked longer to provide a double-fold to keep ears extra warm. Bonus points for a superwash wool – not that your loved ones won’t take care of it, but it provides peace of mind. I’ve been toting this hate everywhere for the last few weeks, and despite some rough handling, it’s barely showing any wear.
I’ll leave it there for now, but if you click on the photo above, or the link below, you can download a free copy of this pattern – so grab a copy, whip one up over the weekend and strut your stuff into the store next time you’re around to show it off (I guarantee compliments).
P.S. This is the first pattern to be officially launched under the Urban Yarns banner. There will be more coming. Get excited.