In case you didn’t know, knitting isn’t just for grandmas anymore. Really. Not that the craft was only ever limited to people who met a certain age requirement, but for a long time, blue-haired, elderly women in rocking chairs were the faces of this centuries-old technique.
The image has changed, however, as more and more younger people are taking up the hobby. In fact, according to HuffPost, twenty- and thirty-somethings are getting into knitting in a big way. Supporting that claim is a survey conducted by the Craft Yarn Council of America, which found that knitters between the ages of 25 to 34 jumped by 150 percent from 2002 to 2004. And the popularity continues to increase. “Stitch and b****” groups are coming out of the woodwork and knitted creations are a huge part of Etsy’s offerings. Bottom line: Knitting is here to stay.
But, you—perhaps a non-knitter—may be wondering, who cares? Despite knitting’s surge in post-millennial popularity, the majority of people think of it as a moderately (if that) interesting hobby with the added benefit of homemade gifts as a result.
What if we told you that the hobby has a library’s worth of legends?
Well, incredibly, scores of myths and legends surround the technique. So, before you purchase needles and prepare to knit one and purl one (knitting terms, you know), you may want to learn about how this hobby can affect your life.
Knitting for your partner can backfire.
One of the great things about knitters is they usually like to share their work. Whether its scarves for birthday presents or surprise pairs of gloves “just because,” it definitely pays to have a knitter in your posse.
But that knitting life isn’t always easy. Along with the ability to turn strands of modest material into fabulous creations, knitters also have a lot of power. So much power, in fact, it is said they can end relationships with just a few strokes of their knitting needles. Enter the “Sweater Curse.”
Legend has it that if a female knitter begins a sweater for her significant other, the relationship will end before the garment receives its last stitch. She can prevent the inevitable breakup, however, if she knits a deliberate mistake into the sweater.
It’s possible the Sweater Curse is a real threat, borne from hundreds of spinsterly knitters in centuries past. But it’s also possible that a partner is just turned off by this type of present.
A low-commitment guy may see a sweater as more than just a comfortable piece of clothing to keep him warm on a cold winter’s day. Some recipients, who are clearly overthinking, may think the effort involved in this gift indicates a big step, one they may not be ready for. As a result, the person leaves the relationship.
Although there isn’t too much scientific proof regarding this theory, you may want to hold off on dressing your partner with your crafts until you get married, just to be safe. Plus, it’s been said that a sweater made by a wife for a husband can ward off other women and keep the man safe at home. (But if you’re relying on a sweater to keep your man’s hands to himself, you may have problems that knitting can’t fix.)
The History (and Mystery) of the Aran Sweater
Before alternative rock band Weezer sang songs about islands in the sun and what summer feels like, the LA-based quartet was first known for its song about a sweater.
As its name implies, “Undone – The Sweater Song,” released in 1994, is a little tune about a sweater unraveling. The song shows a parallel between a person’s life falling apart just as a sweater unravels.
This isn’t the first time the humble sweater was used for symbolic purposes. The Aran sweater takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, and it’s likely derived from the guernsey or gansey sweater, worn by fishermen on the British Isles for hundreds of years. It’s known for its intricate pattern and cozy feel, but it is also carries a secret: its stitches are rife with hefty symbolism.
Legend has it that each stitch is symbolic. For instance, the cable stitch resembles a rope and represents safety at sea or the fisherman’s life itself. The diamond pattern is a symbol of wealth and the lattice or basket stitch represents a bountiful catch. The honeycomb is representative of the hardworking bee and the zig zag is symbolic of the cliffs of the island. Blackberry, tree of life, moss, and trellis stitches also represent the traditions and nature of the islands.
In an effort to boost the area’s economy, Ireland encouraged home knitters to sell their sweaters. This stroke of genius not only increased revenue for the islands, but it introduced the world to this iconic garment.
Fortunately, Aran sweaters are made around the world and are readily available everywhere. If you want to experience the real deal—and whatever folklore surrounds it—you’ll do best to go with one that came straight from the source.
Knitting on stage is a no-no.
Just in case you were thinking about knitting and purling the next time you take the stage, you may want to think again. If you do, it may be your last time under the lights.
Back in the day when superstition was a constant in theatre, warnings about knitting on stage and in the wings were heeded to actors. According to myth, working on your latest yarn project in the theatre is bad luck.
What kind of bad luck knitting would bring is only speculative, however. Perhaps the luck would make an actor forget his lines, trip over a prop, or even hurt himself on stage.
Or, the warning could have been from a more practical standpoint—knitting needles are sharp and could rip a hole into a costume. They could also fall on the floor and cause someone to trip. Either way, in the fickle world of acting, you may not want to press your luck.
There’s a connection between knitting and nature.
It’s pretty easy to see the relationship between knitting and nature. First, knitters often use material that comes from the earth to create their work. Secondly, most of what a knitter makes is used to offer protection from nature (think gloves, hats, sweaters, scarves, and blankets.)
There’s another link between the craft and the great outdoors that you may not know about. According to Lion Brand Yarn Company, knitting has its fair share of nature superstitions throughout the years. For instance, you’ll want to skip knitting a mitten during a waning moon, as doing so always sprouts extra thumbs.
Running out of yarn? Legend has it that if you throw the remnant of a ball of yarn into a fast-flowing creek, you’ll have a lifetime supply of the stuff.
Also, pass on reading a lace chart by moonlight; dropped stitches are always sure to follow.