Avoiding The Curse

Without wishing to sound overly slushy, I love my boyfriend.  I really do.  In what may be one of the only successful speed-dating experiences the world has ever known, we had each attended the event with low expectations and – in my case at least – a healthy blood alcohol level to discover that amidst the social oddities, overly-keen and unfortunates (complete with actual hunches), there was someone there with whom we shared a bit of a spark.  Good albeit brief conversation was had, smiles were exchanges and ticks were added to the box.  Almost a year later, we’re happily ensconced in a South London flat, littering the rooms with toolboxes, yarn and duplicate books.

He has been nothing but supportive since I took on The Knit, though I suspect this is in no small part due to an Xbox-shaped Christmas present that has successfully managed to divert a fair whack of his attention.  However lately there have been suggestions that he might be interested in benefiting from my new ‘skill’.  Having recently completed my first small project and therefore naturally harbouring ambitious aspirations of full jumpers, dresses and knitty world domination, I was quick to suggest possible patterns and even began scouring Ravelry for a suitable offering.  Which was when I discovered The Sweater Curse.

Wikipedia – the source of all online knowledge – describes The Curse as follows:

Knitters use the term Sweater Curse or the Curse of the Love Sweater to describe a situation in which a knitter gives a hand-knit sweater to a significant other, who quickly breaks up with the knitter.  In an alternative formulation, the relationship will end before the sweater is even completed.  The belief is widely discussed in knitting publications and some knitters claim to have experienced the Sweater Curse; a recent poll indicated that 15% of active knitters say they have experienced the sweater curse firsthand, and 41% consider it a possibility that should be taken seriously.

Cripes.  The entry goes on to point out that a huge amount of effort, time, money and indeed “romantic imagination” goes into each Jumper knitted in these circumstances, all of which could suggest the application of additional stress on The Jumper as it becomes less about the garment itself and more about its conception as a declaration of love.  I have therefore obviously underestimated two things: firstly my hitherto unrealised need to confirm the depth of my emotions in garment form and secondly how much effort it takes to knit a freaking jumper.  Sorry, Jumper.

Wikipedia goes on to suggest the ways in which such an endeavour may bring about the end of your relationship:

  • Unlucky timing. Knitting a sweater takes a long time, and the relationship dies of natural causes during its making.
  • 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. 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.
  • Aversion. The significant other may simply not want to wear anything hand-knit.  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.
  • Misdirected attention. The knitter loves their sweater a little too much, and pesters the significant other about the sweater instead of working on their relationship. Alternatively, the knitter loves to knit too much, and spends too much time with their knitting instead of with the significant other.
  • Delusion. The knitter imagines incorrectly that their significant other likes them, and is not disillusioned before knitting the sweater and giving it to them.

Unlucky timing is understandable; you don’t see it coming and as a result your efforts are laid to waste.  The rescue mission concept is somewhat worrying in its Brangelina-like efforts to save the world’s children by adopting them, though I suppose if you were a particularly good knitter with an entirely shallow other half, you could convince them to stay by dangling cashmere in front of their moisturised refueled complexion.

Gender stereotypes aside, I’ve never been prone to over-analysing a relationship.  I understand how it can happen and have been present at many an emergency wine-fuelled summit where female friends have converged, seeking to understand more about a man’s desires, impressions and intentions from his eight word text message.  It’s just never really occurred to me to think “I had fun” means anything other than “I had fun”.  I therefore fail to understand how any garment could be a cause for analysing your relationship, but there you go.

Misdirected attention and delusion are both rather sad to be honest, though I mean that in the sense of ‘upsetting’ rather than ‘lame’.  It paints knitters as people so devoted to their craft that they become somehow detached from reality and seek to impress others with what they can knit rather than simply be who they are.

Of all of these options though, I fully understand the dangers of aversion; it could be rubbish, he could hate it, he could refuse to wear it and I’d end up grumpy.

A scarf it is then.


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