I think I have solved it. The Boyfriend Sweater Curse. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out on this.
At first I thought I was immune because I’m a guy who knit several sweaters for my boyfriend. Perhaps the curse is only valid for heterosexual women? Then I thought it was just because my boyfriend is such a great guy. And you know what? I think that’s a lot of it right there. This morning I was just thinking how many great things he does for me without blinking an eye or complaining. He’s always the one to do any household chore and I let him do it all and just expect he’ll do it. Yes, he’s currently not employed but that’s no excuse for not helping him with things. I thought about how many times a day he tells me he loves me without saying a word. That brought me to something I read once, “Knitting someone a sweater is like saying I love you sixty-thousand times.” (More or less and please forgive me for not remembering the exact quote or who wrote/said it.) So that’s it. That’s what a true boyfriend sweater is! No wonder it is a fragile point in any relationship when that sweater is gifted. So much rides on that sweater! So much love is in that sweater and the recipient needs to know it in his heart of hearts.
So what’s the answer? Well of course the number one factor here is the boyfriend. He’s got to be the kind of guy who gets it. He has to be the kind of guy who will go to the yarn store with you and sit reading a book or browsing the internet patiently while you shop or just sit at the table and knit with your knitting buddies. (At least once in a while.) He might even be persuaded to try learning long enough to do a small swatch.
He has to be in on the sweater from the beginning. One major feature I’ve seen over and over again in the Curse is that the sweater is most often a surprise. Also, the guy receiving the sweater is rarely brought into the world of knitters and made to understand what we’re about. And isn’t that basically what’s required here? Maybe he won’t sit at the yarn shop with you and maybe he’ll roll his eyes whenever knitting is brought up at first but he should be shown and understand that you are not just a knitter, you’re a Knitter. If he can learn this and accept it and know that you have merino fibers in your blood and cashmere in your heart, you’re on your way out of the Curse.
Make him part of the process to some extent. Show him some pattern photos and/or yarn and see if you can get him interested in the idea. Of course some guys are going to be resistant or do the “yes, dear” thing through it. If so, maybe you’ve skipped the last paragraph’s suggestions or he has failed to come around. But if you can’t get him to this stage perhaps the Curse is inevitable.
If you can make the sweater about him and not you, then this is the point where he begins to understand. If you’re making this whole sweater thing about you, then you’re going about it all wrong and you’re probably the kind of person who’d name her baby “Myangel” and never let anyone else at knit night speak. The sweater should be about him and should be in colors and a style that speaks to him. Heck, maybe he’d love a sweater you find atrocious only because it’s in the colors of his favorite sports team. If so, can you bring yourself to knit it? Of course you can! You’re a Knitter, remember?
That was scary, wasn’t it? But remember that this is about showing him your love. It’s not a way for you to say, “See how much I love you? See? Hey you! I’m talking to you! Me me me!” If you truly make it about him and involve him in the decisions as much as you can, then the Curse will be thwarted from the beginning. If you can’t, then the Curse really isn’t built into the sweater, it’s built in to him. Or worse yet, it’s built into you. (If you find yourself forcing him to accept a pattern or color he doesn’t want, then yes, it’s you.)
So let’s stop blaming the sweater for the curse. We may be artists but we are scientists too! There is no need to build superstition into knitting! Now if you’ll excuse me I have to find my lucky stitch markers. I know they were on the couch last night but this morning they’re gone.