Long past the sweater curse

My husband and I have been married nearly five years and although he has socks, hats, gloves and scarves I've never knit him a sweater. I think it all goes back to the first sweater I tried to knit for him.

We eloped in May 2000 after knowing each other for two months. When you marry someone that quickly, you sort of forget that you both had plans for the summer that can't be broken and end up spending the summer apart. He had just graduated and was planning to spend the summer with his parents doing the typical post-grad job search. I wasn't going to graduate until December and had a summer internship lined up at MIT. We were going to both stay in Cambridge for the summer, but then we realized that we couldn't find anywhere to stay. I don't know if anyone else has tried to find reasonable temporary housing in Cambridge at the last minute, but it should have replaced at least one of the labors of Hercules. I ended up finding a room with two other girls in some filthy fraternity house while my husband stayed in Pennsylvania with his parents.

To take the sting out of being away from my husband, I was going to knit him a sweater. I hadn't brought much knitting with me so I bought twenty-six skeins of navy blue Heilo, a size three circular needle and my first ever copy of Interweave Knits at Woolcott and Co. I looked over the pattern and decided to make the smaller size. This was my critical error. My husband and I are the same height, but he's a much bigger build. He has deceptively large shoulders for a guy his height. Why I didn't have him measure his chest is beyond me, but I wanted it to be a surprise. If this wasn't bad enough, I wasn't getting gauge on the 3's and decided to just block it out. If I was planning to knit up that much yarn, you think I could have sprung for another needle, but no. Maybe love had made me stupid.

I did research on magnetic tunnel junctions during the day and knitted at night. I sat on my bed (we had no other furniture) in the little furnace of a room and watched my roommate's TV. They were fresh out of U Mass and went out almost every night. I'd talk with my husband (who was working installing sprinkler systems) on the phone and then knit until I couldn't see straight. I made pretty good progress, too. The sweater was beautiful and it was going to be my second sweater ever.

When I tried to block the first sleeve I couldn't get it to be big enough. So I got it wet and IRONED IT. I'm not sure what I was thinking, how this qualified as a blocking method, but I did it. I can't think of a worse way to block cabled knitting, but it was done. A second sleeve and then the back were done in the same way. A month later my husband drove out to visit and I realized there was no way the sweater was ever going to fit. Not only did it not really fit him, my husband likes to wear things big and baggy. It was a miserable failure.

The unfinished sweater began a long life in a plastic storage tub. I gave away the unused skeins as a birthday present a few years later and finally ripped out the sweater pieces last year. The yarn has yet to be washed or blocked. Apparently it's made me afraid to knit large objects for my husband.

But something changed all that. My husband admitted that he liked the feel of All Seasons Cotton. While I was paging through Rowan 37, he decided he liked the sweater Charley. Charley just happens to be made of All Seasons Cotton. Now with our five year anniversary coming up, we've struck an O. Henry without the irony type deal. He's going to give me the yarn to make the sweater a little before our anniversary and I'll make the sweater for him for our anniversary. Everyone is happy, no need for surprises so there can be plenty of measuring and fitting. It's good to be married.


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