Or maybe it was something less than that. I'm still not sure. But I'm not sorry I did it.
My love of knitting began when I stole a sweater.
Except I didn't, really.
But it wasn't mine to begin with- that much is certainly true.
When I was in high school I ended up giving a ride to two other girls. We drove together for a fairly long distance- at least two hours.
One of the girls was wearing this sweater. It was made from bulky yarn. It had some lace on the front and beautiful wood buttons. The color was a soft rose. It was just beautiful. When I told her that I really loved her sweater, she gave me an icy look.
"This thing? Ugh. I hate this sweater. My aunt made it for me, so I guess I have to wear it, but I really don't like it. I don't even know why I'm wearing it." She went on for a while about how much she loathed the garment and then when I dropped her off at her destination, she left it in my car.
When we got back to school after break, I told her that I had it. I told her to come and get it. It was in my dorm room... but I didn't take it to her.
Again, I told her. Don't forget that I have your sweater. She never came by. I was hoping that she wouldn't. And she didn't.
One more time I tried. I really did tell her three times that I had her sweater. And I really would have given it back if she'd ever shown up to claim it, but she didn't.
I didn't wear it at all in high school, but I did wear it at college. I loved that sweater. I wore it with jeans and with skirts. I wore it out at nights and I wore it for cool autumn hikes. I wore it every couple of days during cool weather for about seven years.
I wore holes in it and then I darned the holes with matching thread because I had no idea that I could replace the yarn and repair it. Finally, ratty and tattered, it was time to retire my sweater. It really could not be rehabilitated even once more. It made me very sad to throw it out. It had been like a friend to me.
I thought about the girl's aunt often as I wore that sweater. I wondered if she ever thought about the sweater that she knit. She probably thought that it was neglected and unloved, but the opposite was true. I appreciated every stitch that went into it. I marveled over the lace stitching and it kept me snuggly warm when it was cold out. I took it on camping trips and wore it to the library when I studied. It went on vacation with me and I wore it on dates and it accompanied me to many exams. I remember it more than any other garment I have ever owned and to this day I can still recall the color and the pattern, some 25 years or so after I finally threw it out.
I thought about tracking down the aunt to tell her that I loved that sweater
so much that I'd literally loved it to death, but I didn't know how I could do that and not have to give up the sweater, perhaps to be returned to someone who thought of it as "ugh." So I kept it, knowing that it wasn't mine. I also wasn't sure how to find out who she was- any way that I could do that was not going to end well for me, so I kept quiet and I kept wearing the/my sweater.
My kids will occasionally lose the things I make for them. I will occasionally lose the things I make for myself, too. When something goes missing, I think about my sweater from college and I hope that whoever finds the lost hat or mittens or scarf loves their found treasure as much as I loved that sweater. I hope they wear it without guilt but with joy, for each lost item is my penance for misappropriating that sweater in 1982.
Whatever they find, I hope they love it to death- in my mind, they always do.