Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mom, Dad, and the Sweater Curse

Here's a Christmas knitting story. You know about the sweater curse, right? As in, if you knit your sweetie a sweater before you tie the knot, you're done for? I've got proof that it's bogus, or at least not 100% - in fact, I'm living proof.

My mom learned to knit as a sophomore in college. Her sister Sarah taught her, and Mom's first real project was a sweater for her boyfriend. It was a green scratchy pullover, probably acrylic - it was 1971, so acrylic was scratchy back then. The shade of green she chose is somewhere between Army Green (there was a draft on - I still have trouble wrapping my head around that) and the Avocado Green that would soon dominate every stylish 1970s kitchen.
Mom learned in November and knit like crazy so her beau would have a sweater by Christmas. I've seen my mom's knitting - to this day she knits slowly and really tight. Christmas was a big deal that year - her fella was going to stay with her family in Pennsylvania over the holidays, instead of going home to his own folks in Illinois. He'd transferred colleges that year to be closer to her, and his mother was convinced my mom was promptly going to ditch him, leaving him broken-hearted and stranded at Penn State.

So the big moment came on Christmas morning. Mom presented the sweater to her man. He held it up - it looked like it would fit perfectly - well, maybe a bit snug... He put it on ... wriggle, wriggle, wriggle - pop! His head came out of the top. The torso and sleeves fit great, but the collar was a little ... tight. Actually, a lot tight. He tried to take it off, but he couldn't get the collar back over his chin. A struggle ensued. I envision all seven of my mom's siblings, plus Grandma and Grandpa, each getting a piece of the action and trying to tug the brand new sweater over the poor benighted fellow's head. Nothing worked.

Finally they got out the scissors. Mom snipped the cast-off edge and unraveled her creation until her boyfriend could breathe easily and the sweater would fit back off over his head.

Over the coming weeks she scoured the yarn shops to find a matching ball of the same dye lot. She re-knit the collar and cast off as loosely as she possibly could.

I'm sure you already know the punchline to this story. Three years later, they graduated college and got hitched. The fella is my dad. The sweater lived on in our family - it was the perfect raking-leaves-in-the-fall sweater. Scratchy and super warm. I wore it sometimes in high school after dad got a little paunchy in his thirties and outgrew it. I wonder where it is now...

Hey, family: If I missed any cool details in this story, let me know and I'll fill them in!


knithound brooklyn said...

Awwww, that is a sweet story!

Gina said...

Ah..the early 70's. I made my share of sweaters. I knitted a lot, was still getting the hang of crochet and hadn't even thought about tatting yet.

I was just thinking this morning about all the baby sweaters and other gifts I made before blogs - ha! even before computers. The photos never showed up very well.

Love your story!

amanda said...

i don't believe this story. first of all, who learns to knit and then knits a sweater in less than 2 months? also, let's just say for argument's sake, someone did just learn to knit and knits a sweater, how would this person know how to or feel comfortable, cutting up and unraveling the sweater? very unlikely. if i were here, i would have done whatever it takes to get it off of him and then find a new boy who fits the sweater.r

ok, maybe not. great story. it makes sense that you come from crafty stock.

Daniel Yuhas said...

I think the unraveling and re-knitting counteracted the curse. Plus I don't think she could have found another college boy with a small enough head. Mom actually never knitted again after that until she started doing potholders after she had foot surgery a couple years ago.

Splendid Little Stars said...

and hilarious!