Witchy Knitting: The Ugly Sweatervest
In the full month since my last post, I haven’t done a lot of witchcraft. I kind of feel bad about it, but then again, I wrote an entire post about that and why I shouldn’t feel bad. I’ve been trying to live by what I said—we are all hypocrites, after all, but we should at least try.
What I have been doing a lot of is crafting, and it’s given me a lot of time to think about witchy crafting, intent, and enchantments. I’ve been working on my Christmas gifts. I have very mixed thoughts on Christmas. To make a snack analogy, my thoughts on Christmas are like a trail mix composed entirely of the much-hated banana nuts and ancient husks of once-raisins with a few M&Ms tossed in out of pity. I’ll probably write a post on it at some point in the near future.
But I do enjoy giving gifts. It’s probably my primary love language, if we’re subscribing to that pseudoscience. One of the gifts I’m making is for a new holiday tradition that my partner and I are starting: The Ugly Sweater Giveaway.
The Ugly Sweater Giveaway is an overly-ambitious, entirely entertaining, finger-hurting endeavor in which I knit an ugly sweater, my partner wears it throughout the holiday season, and then we donate it to a thrift store on Boxing Day. Repeat every year, allowing me to master fair isle and the art of sardonic Christmas patterns.
This first Christmas sweater is an Ugly, American Patriotism sweater.
This is my first time doing fair isle. For those of you who don’t know, fairisle is a traditional knitting technique for doing colorwork, or putting multiple colors into a piece of knitting. Mine isn’t great yet—the tension is uneven, so the stitches are bumpy. But I’m already so much better than I was. I’m optimistic about my progress both for this year, and for years to come.
Next year, I intend to start in early November. I ordered my yarn too late this year, and I’ve been so rushed to finish for Christmas photos that I think this year’s sweater will be a sweater vest instead.
I worry that my frustration has been seeping into this sweater. I haven’t been as careful with it as I could have been; I haven’t been as loving with it as I could have been. I worry that the intentions haven’t been as, well, intentional as I wanted them to be. My stitches aren’t perfect. There are loose edges; in some places the fairisle has pulled tight; one of the front shoulders is longer than the other. I almost cried over it tonight.
But then, I took a step back, went to get some Coca-Cola for me and my partner, then drank it. Only then did I come back to the sweater—and I realized, in addition to it being an overly ambitious first fair isle project AND my first real sweater project, it could be a metaphor.
I don’t have to like my sweater’s imperfections. I don’t have to be proud of them. I can even work to fix them, weaving in loose ends strategically to shore up loose stitches.
But I also shouldn’t hate the entire project—the overly ambitious, and yet still beautiful, project—because of a few bubbly stitches.
I’m not the person I want to be. I definitely don’t have the history I want to have. I don’t have all the traits I want to have: I’m not as patient as I want to be, or as organized, or as healed from past traumas.
Some of these things I choose to flaunt. Yeah, I’m a bit of an ADHD mess. I openly work on coping with my mess, enlisting my friends and loved ones to help me set reminders, and clean my space, and organize my files. I’m proud to have ADHD, and function both in spite of and because of it.
But there are other scars I don’t share. The traumas that are dark and deep. Only a few people need to see that side of me, and only those people are going to see that side of me. It’s not the time to wear that scar openly. It’s not the time to shout it from the rooftops—and it might never be.
Both of these are ways of accepting imperfections. Some flaws are the misaligned eagles on the front of my sweater—charming, and kooky, and adding to the entire piece. Some are the loose, ugly edge stitches, that I will quietly weave back together to strengthen the entire piece.
Both of these are forms of acceptance. Both of these are a way to make peace with my mistakes. The intentions behind both of these can be love. Love can look different in different places.
And so my sweater, as full of frustration as it may be, will also be full of love.