Tag Archives: knitting

The cursed boyfriend jumper

I first ran into the notion of the cursed boyfriend jumper via a Talis Kimberly song. It’s a rather fascinating bit of modern folklore from the knitting community, and it goes like this: Making your boyfriend a jumper will doom your relationship. Boyfriend jumpers are cursed.

I had a bit of a poke about in this – it’s easy to find information online. Most of what’s out there ponders the practical and psychological reasons why jumper making may not be good for relationships. But, it’s more fun to talk about it as a folkloric curse and so of course that’s what people end up doing.

Having made a massive snuggly jumper for myself, I wanted to make jumpers for my household, which is what got more exploring the cursed boyfriend jumper. It’s a decidedly different thing to be knitting a jumper for someone who wants a jumper and normally wears jumpers – and there’s nothing weird, invasive or unsettling about making clothes for someone you live with. So we picked out the wool together and looked at stitches together and the result is something Tom likes. Imposing a surprise jumper on someone you don’t know well clearly has implications.

I learned a lot making this one. I need to stop assuming I’m bigger than everyone else because it turns out Tom’s chest is bigger than mine and I had to add some little inserts. I shall fettle my pattern accordingly for next time. I confirmed some ideas I’d had about how better to do collars, following on from my first jumper. The stitch is based on fisherman’s rib, but I think I was doing it wrong, technically! I really like the effect though, so, not a problem.

It turns out that the idea of a row by row, stitch by stitch set of knitting instructions terrifies me. But, a few broad theories of jumper and I’m happy to crack on with it. There are practical implications to this as well. Much of the body of this jumper was knitted at the Gloucester Steampunk Winter Convivial, while the sleeves were knitted the following weekend at Steampunks in Space. I’m finding that crafting at events helps me stay calm in face of what can otherwise be sensory overload, but there is no way I could manage a stall while following a detailed pattern.

Greener jumpers

For the last ten years or so I’ve mostly bought jumpers from sale rails, often at the end of winter. I figure that buying from the ends of lines doesn’t increase demand in the same way and may keep wearable clothing out of landfill.

It’s not ideal, though. I’ve owned a lot of black jumpers, because I like my jumpers plain, and often black is the only plain option. I still have a hard time finding things that fit me – I’m tall. I often actively dislike the kinds of jumpers designed for women, and if I’m wearing a jumper designed for a bloke it’s never going to be a good fit. Sometimes I like jumpers that fit. With the kind of clothes buying budget I have, even my sale rail jumpers tend to be low quality. They wear out, look shabby really quickly, and are never that warm.

This year I’ve started knitting my own. I can buy a better quality of yarn for the budget I have. I’ve not entirely managed to move away from synthetics, but a more substantial yarn is going to last longer and not end up in landfill for many more years, so overall it’s the better move. If I knit a jumper I can have the shape and colour I want. I don’t have to spend time traipsing around in the desperate hope of finding something I can afford that I can also bear to wear. This frees up time and emotional energy for other things.

I usually find clothes shopping depressing. It’s rare for me to find clothes I truly like that also fit. I’m tall, and broad, and have had to do a lot of ignoring my own feelings and preferences and putting up with whatever would do – this is not great for self-esteem. Second hand clothes shopping is often an exercise in futility for anything other than big, shapeless skirts. It’s the same with sale rails, and often with new stuff, too.

If I make my own clothes, I get things I like, in better and more robust fabrics that will last longer. If I have clothes that suit my tastes, my body shape and the way I live, then I can get by with less. It takes more ‘sort of works’ clothing to get you through – I know this from experience. I also like making things. Crafting is a valuable mental health activity that eases stress and allows me time for emotional processing and imaginative thinking, so making an item of clothing gets a lot of things done. Better dressed in terms of clothing quality, happier with my clothes and not stressed by the process of getting them means having more energy for other things. That in turn increases my chances of being able to be more environmentally mindful in other ways.