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Love Your Blog Challenge: Ugly

Love Your Blog Challenge: Ugly

This week’s prompt from A Playful Day is “ugly.” So I’m going to write a post about my husband.

Now, lest you think my marriage in trouble, let me clarify that this is actually going to be an ode to my husband. (Husband, if you’re reading this, stop here. Or you’re going to ruin Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or something. I’ll let you read it eventually, I promise.)

Way back when, I used to crochet rectangles. Some were baby scarves, some were giant blankets that didn’t fit on any standard-size bed, but they were rectangles with no pattern. I finally decided I wanted a sweater, but this was just before the big crochet/knitting boom, so I couldn’t find anything I liked. I decided knitting would provide more flexibility and available patterns and picked up Jacqueline Fee’s Sweater Workshop from the library. I knit most of her sweater sampler, which looks like something for a three-legged cat but which teaches you a wide range of skills you’ll need. I highly recommend it as a way to learn to knit.

Anyway, too impatient to even finish the sampler, I launched into knitting a sweater out of some terrible acrylic for my boyfriend. I had never heard of the boyfriend sweater curse, and when my grandmother said I was sweet to make him a sweater, I told her I wanted to be able to screw one up before making one for myself. She thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.

I followed the math in Jacqueline’s book to make a basic crew-neck sweater, but I was kind of guessing on measurements, and I went for the fullest option on everything, because I was afraid of it being too small. I also was wrapping all my knit stitches wrong and no idea the whole time.

I slogged and slogged, and on the night I thought I might be near the end, I stayed up really late, way after everyone had gone to bed. Everything was bunched up on a circular needle, and so it wasn’t until I bound it off that I was able to get a look at the thing. I didn’t even hold it up first – I threw it over my head to try it on myself.

And I lost it. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I had worked on this thing for weeks and weeks, and it was the size of a tent. The sleeves hung way past my fingers. The armholes were the size of my thighs, and the neck drooped. Giant size + sticky acrylic + twisted knit stitches = UGLY.

How I used to track my knitting in the pre-Ravelry days: taping photographs into a notebook.
How I used to track my knitting in the pre-Ravelry days: taping photographs into a notebook.

I gave it to him anyway. And he married me anyway. But he could wear American football pads under this sweater and still have room to grow. To his credit, he’s never gotten rid of it. He doesn’t wear it (because I won’t let him), but he still has it.

So, like I said, I married this man. He’s wonderfully supportive of anything I do and has never batted an eye at the size of my yarn stash. He wears handknit socks with pride. I knit him another sweater after the first, but I had this crazy idea early on that I didn’t need patterns, even though I didn’t know the basics. So the second sweater, though it fits, has bunchy awkward sleeve holes again. That sweater, he occasionally wears, even though I’d rather he not. The third sweater came out a little too purple, so I adopted it for myself.

Slightly better, but I still didn't know how sleeve caps were actually supposed to be shaped.
Slightly better, but I still didn’t know how sleeve caps were actually supposed to be shaped.
Me modeling the “too purple” sweater, in progress and over my PJs.

I’ve long wanted to knit him a sweater that actually works, so imagine my delight when I realized that our upcoming anniversary, number 7, is copper, desk sets, or WOOL. Thanks, universe! But here comes so more ugly…

I have yarn in my stash that I bought at the New Lanark mill in Scotland in 2006, specifically thinking I’d knit him a sweater from it. This is a 1.25-kilo monster skein that I’ve moved between houses and countries and continents. I decided its time had come. So last night I tried to throw this behemoth on my umbrella skein, which was NOT happy. In desperation, I asked for my husband’s help, even though I didn’t want him to see any part of the process. However, I couldn’t get the skein on and adjust the swift without having four hands. Once it was on, it was slow going. The swift groaned, and the yarn and I both got snarly. Once again, I had discovered ugly.

Is anything uglier than this?


Snarly yarn makes me snarly.
Snarly yarn makes me snarly.

Just as I was considering attacking the whole thing with scissors, in walked my husband with a bar of chocolate. When I asked him why he was bringing it to me then, he said, “Because you need it.”

"Because you need it."
“Because you need it.”

I love that man.

I eventually turned the skein into seven cakes and plan to swatch this evening for his new sweater, perhaps a Gramps or a Flax, depending on gauge.


Wish me luck. I’m hoping the fourth time will be the charm.

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