31 January 2007

My Two Cents On "The Sweater Curse"

Alternate Title:
I Married An Ape-Man!

What else am I supposed to think when the first completed Leo sleeve measures a solid 28 inches from end to end?? He's got to be at least one-eighth orangutan.

"Call me 'Pongo'."
(Sorry, that's a taxonomy joke.)

(So you don't become unduly frightened, I shall clarify that the sleeve is only 20" from wrist to armpit, but the sleeve cap bit is another 8 inches.)

The first of the mega sleeves is, as you can see, finished. I thought perhaps it would never end.

And now I fear the same might be true of the second. After two solid days of working on it, it is approximately 1/3 total length.

So as to this sweater curse business, which I mentioned in a recent post. First of all, my marriage is definitely not in jeopardy, but there is a little latent hostility floating around in regards to this sweater. Particularly, from his side, because it isn't finished yet; from my side, because I have ceased to enjoy working on it - which is why it isn't finished yet. It's a cyclical thing.

I have read many opinions on the sweater curse - whether it exists, is complete BS, what the possible explanations might be, testimonials of its dark power, etc. There is, in fact, a Wikipedia entry on it, which is well worth perusing. My favorite explanation can be found here - about the tendency of a knitter to pester and nag the recipient about the minutiae of sweater-knitting until the recipient realizes that the knitter is, in fact, a CrazyPerson. I had based my sweater-curse belief system around that theory, but now I'm beginning to have ideas of my own swirling around... I'm sure this does not apply in every case, but I believe it may be a viable hypothesis that I have not actually seen proposed before. Here goes.

A sweater is a large, involved, long-term type of project. And many men have - I won't say plain, and certainly not boring - but simple taste in sweaters. Which leads, in many cases, to a large, involved, long-term DULL and REPETITIVE project. For instance, while a very classic and attractive sweater, the Leo is pretty much continuous 5x3 ribbing, knit on size 3 and 4 needles. It gets a bit old.

This leads to a couple of things. First of all, a project like that ceases to be enjoyable around the time the first half of the body is done. The knitter's love for the recipient may carry the knitter through further, but the knitting itself is no longer interesting. After a while, even the color is unattractive. Disdain for the project starts to arise. Then, the knitter becomes tempted by other projects. A new issue of a knitting magazine comes out, and the knitter starts fantasizing about new patterns, with different, interesting features, like cables, or Fair Isle, or - well, not the same old ribbing. A friend's birthday is coming up, and the knitter "cheats" on the sweater to work on a scarf or pair of socks.

Then repercussions are felt in the relationship. The recipient sees the knitter casting on for other projects - possibly even "selfish" ones - while his sweater sits pitifully unfinished, and he is understandably hurt. Often the blame for the sweater-curse-breakup is placed on the recipient, but I believe that the knitter may start to transpose the negative feelings they hold toward the project onto the recipient himself. Likely without realizing they are doing so. The knitter feels oppressed by the project, and the recipient feels neglected when it is not finished in a timely manner. He starts making snide remarks about how it was supposed to be a Christmas present. She starts making excuses. Bitterness emerges. The relationship must be truly strong to survive something like this.

Of course, as far as my circumstances go, this is MASSIVE exaggeration. But I can see where it could happen. There will certainly be a huge wave of relief when it is done, though. Right now:

The rest of that sleeve, seaming the sleeves, and the neck. Ohhhh it sounds like a lot.

So I continue to knit. Leo, and nothing else until Leo is no more.


Bethany said...

I admire you. Evan's sweater was made on size 10 needles...

Nicole said...

Can you amputate one arm to the elbow? Would that help?

Anonymous said...

Oh honey, please don't get too distraught. You will complete it; I have faith in you. :)

jenfromRI said...

He better wear that sweater everyday! Size 3 and 4 needles, my goodness . . .