Wabi Sabi Investigates… the Sweater Curse

When casting on that first stitch, a knitter taps not only into the superpower of creating a handmade wardrobe but also the rich folklore plied into the craft of knitting. Perhaps the most enduring superstition, passed down through grandmothers and stitch n’ bitches, is the Sweater Curse—also known as the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater. As the legend goes, knitting a sweater for your significant other will inevitably lead to the end of the relationship before the final stitch is in place. For some, the curse can be avoided if the creator knits a deliberate mistake into the sweater, while other, more traditionally-minded versions caution that a sweater simply must not be attempted before marriage.

There may be some practical explanations for this belief. Knitters know that theirs is a labour-intensive craft, requiring significant time and effort. As such, a large project such as a sweater can prove an endurance test for a relationship, making the Sweater Curse less a supernatural occurrence than a cautionary tale for those who dive in too quickly. After all, not everyone is worthy of such a gift and not everyone is up to receiving it either. The partner who cannot rise gracefully to the challenge of wearing such a gift of love (regardless of the end result) is clearly not Mr. or Ms. Right.

By Emily Monks-Leeson, who has yet to knit a sweater for her husband