December 16, 2004

The Wedding Sweater

weddingsweaterclose1.jpg Moxie has expressed a preference for being anonymous on this blog, so you'll just have to take my word for it that he's in the sweater, albeit sans la tete...

A little while ago, Kate (scroll down to November 10 for the entry in question) blogged about the dangers of knitting for a man, and wondered whether there was truly a curse that would cause a woman to lose a boyfriend (or husband) for whom she knit a sweater. My own personal view on this is that there is a curse, but that it can be circumvented by true love and a little selflessness. Here, on the one year (and a few days) anniversary of my civil/insurance wedding (not to be confused with the fabby shindig that we celebrate in March), I thought I would share my story:

About five months after we started dating, Moxie requested that I make a very intricate fisherman's sweater for him. He knew that I knit seriously and that I loved making things, so I don't think it occurred to him what a major request this might be. I immediately informed him that knitting of this magnitude was something that I would only do for lifelong friends or family members. I had been asked to knit a sweater by a previous boyfriend and turned him down for the very same reason. I knew we were just not at that level of commitment and didn't think that we would be for a long time, so I wasn't willing to do it.

Moxie persisted, saying that he would personally accompany me to the yarn store to pick out the yarn and would purchase said yarn and any other materials that I might need. He promised to be worthy of the sweater. (I still remember that trip, because I think it was the first and only time Moxie stepped foot in a yarn store for more than a second; it was definitely the only time he ever bought yarn. We rollerbladed up to CloseKnit in Evanston with Caia and the shop owner let her come in with us to cool off, since it was August and still brutally hot.)

The sweater was the first I ever designed, and I spent a great deal of time swatching cables to show Moxie and drawing up schematics. I measured his favorite sweaters to copy the fit. (He has loooong arms.) I knit through the World Series and the first snow in Chicago. Then, about half-way through the sweater, we broke up.

It didn't occur to me not to finish the sweater, because at that point, like a character in a novel, it had a life of its own that was, quite simply, meant to be. What I did struggle with was whether I would actually give Moxie the sweater or not. It had been a sweater of dreams and possiblities, and by the time it was done, it seemed that those things had been lost, and that the purpose behind the sweater had changed. I had shed many a tear into that Lamb's Pride, and it was going to be hard to part with.

Finally, I decided that if I was still so hurt by our split, it must be because there was really something between us, and that maybe that something was worth such a sweater, even if we never got back together again. I felt that Moxie was important enough to me that I wanted to try to be his friend. Barring that, he would at least have this kick-ass sweater to remind him of what an incredible girl he had let go.

So, on a snowy day in early January of that year, I put on the sweater and went outside with my friend Walter to do a full photo-documentary of the sweater. My mindofwinter 'hellooooo' photo is one of the many great shots that resulted:

mindofwinterhello.jpg Isn't Walter great with a camera?

And then I gave it to Moxie.

About a year later we got back together. And about five years later we got married.

Our first wedding wasn't planned. We had a long engagement and had arranged to go to Mexico with a small band of family and friends at the end of March. Circumstances got in the way, however, and in order for me to have health insurance we had to bump up the date. Our decision to do so was made exactly three days before the event, and I wasn't exactly happy about it. I like to be able to mentally prepare myself for these life transitions (silly girl), and having a marriage sprung on me (even one that was slated to happen in a few months) was unsettling, to say the least.

We had a hard time deciding how much formality and specialness to give this "insurance wedding". It was really important to me for us to get it right, rather than fumble through this most sacred of milestones. We didn't want to downplay it too much, but we also wanted it to be clear that Mexico was the real deal. (Don't worry - it was!) One of the hardest things to decide was what to wear. We debated over this for a long time, and then Moxie said that he had the perfect thing.

When I asked what, he said, "My wedding sweater."

And it was.


Curse? Perhaps. But if it's meant to be, it always works out.

Happy weekend to you all...

Posted by Julia at December 16, 2004 11:20 PM


julia - what a terrific story! and the resulting sweater is gorgeous on you and on him. :)

congrats on your insurance wedding anniversary, too. :)

Posted by: melissa j at December 28, 2004 01:53 PM

A terrific sweater story!

Posted by: Norma at December 22, 2004 05:28 PM

I knew it! I knew there was a curse! You have a great way of telling stories - I was enraptured. And I am so glad that it worked out for you both! The sweater is gorgeous and I am sooooo impressed that you designed it yourself. I think you should get him to knit YOU a smaller version! Hee hee.

Posted by: Anne-Caroline at December 20, 2004 05:11 PM

What a fantastic story! ;-)
And of course the Wedding sweater is gorgeous!

Posted by: Eilene at December 20, 2004 02:28 PM

Such a great story! And that sweater is a masterpiece. I expect no less from you, Miss Julia.

Posted by: Becky at December 20, 2004 01:35 PM

Fantastic story! That sweater is gorgeous. I'm so impressed that *that* was your first's so complex! It's sweet how the curse was reversed. :)

Posted by: Sarah C. at December 20, 2004 10:40 AM

beautiful sweater, beautiful story.

Posted by: mrspilkington at December 20, 2004 06:27 AM

That's a lovely story! and an amazing sweater.
I have to say when I read the paragraph about you deciding to go on and finish the sweater it almost sounded like a "prolife" commercial. =0
and what a sweet thing of Moxie to do and call it the wedding sweater...but it is in a way.
I think that you lifted the curse. =)

Posted by: Orli at December 20, 2004 04:28 AM

Such a sweet story...and it makes me less afraid of the curse now!

Posted by: jen at December 19, 2004 03:40 PM

That truly is a great story. Almost like the Gift of the Magi, except not really. Still, Christmas-y somehow, and made better because it involves a lovely fisherman's sweater, a garment that lies close to the heart of why I became a knitter in the first place. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: rachel at December 19, 2004 12:34 PM

At the risk of duplicating every other comment, that is a wonderful story and an amazing sweater. He sounds like quite a guy (and you're clearly quite a woman -- not to mention quite a knitter!).

Posted by: Alison A. at December 18, 2004 01:29 PM

Yes, what everyone has said, because it's true. Beautiful story, beautiful sweater. Thanks for sharing this!

Posted by: cari at December 18, 2004 11:19 AM

What a beautiful sweater, and a lovely story to go along with it. My husband and I got married under similar circumstances, and it is a story I will treasure forever.

Posted by: Niki at December 18, 2004 08:23 AM

What a sweet tale. I like that you were introduced to each other by your dogs! It is quite a nice sweater, too. On top of the sentiment which went into your making it, its clear you spent a lot of time making it just perfect.
By the way, I think I would be a little wigged out by a surprise insurance wedding too!

Posted by: Emily at December 17, 2004 08:38 PM

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

I am very impressed that it is the first sweater you ever designed. What were you most useful resources? And did you design all those cool cables, too?

Posted by: Laura A. at December 17, 2004 04:54 PM

You have to love it when a gorgeous knit garment has a wonderful story behind it. Thanks for sharing yours.

Posted by: allison at December 17, 2004 04:36 PM

oh my goodness, what a gorgeous sweater and such a beautiful story!

Posted by: froggy at December 17, 2004 04:16 PM

Can I just say AWWWWWWWWWWW. What a great story. I love that picture. You look great in the sweater, even if it's a little big. I think you deserve the Nobel prize for giving it to him, after all that work, and especially when he was in the doghouse! xoxo Kay

Posted by: Kay at December 17, 2004 02:56 PM

That was so touching it brought tears to my eyes. I'm amidst a messy breakup with my guy right now and you have given me faith that if it's meant to be it will in the future. Thank you for sharing your story. The sweater is gorgeous, too!

Posted by: Kaitlin at December 17, 2004 01:36 PM

Funny, Kate and I were just discussing curse sweaters. I knit one for a guy I broe it off with, and as you say, the sweater continued to live a life of its own. He wore it on his honeymoon too, just with another woman, who took peculiar pleasure in my knowing that she was on the honeymoon with him, and NOT the knitter of the sweater. I bless them both.
(even though they're now divorced)

Posted by: the other julia at December 17, 2004 01:19 PM

Beautiful, Julia! I love a good love story, and that sweater is just gorgeous.

My husband and I have a similar one--we went to Maine on our honeymoon, and he picked out a sweater and the yarn and I set about to knitting a cabled monstrosity, something never before attempted (and probably never again!). That damn thing took the first 6 months of the marriage, but it is a beauty and I will always call it the "honeymoon sweater."

anyway, congratulations to you and your honey!

Posted by: aubree at December 17, 2004 01:16 PM

That was the most romantic story ever! Thank you very much for sharing it with us!

Merry Christmas!

Posted by: marie at December 17, 2004 01:11 PM

I have tears in my eyes right now! What a beautiful story! (I think this is the first time I've commented on your blog...I love it and have been reading it for awhile.)

Posted by: Moni at December 17, 2004 01:01 PM

wow it is the perfect time of year for such a lovely story! and that sweater is a work of art! wishing you many more great memories....

Posted by: Amy Allen at December 17, 2004 12:32 PM

That is a truly beautiful story. And so totally true - if it is meant to be it will be. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas if I'm not back in the next few days. Love the mini sweaters..

Posted by: kerrie at December 17, 2004 12:20 PM

What a beautiful story - thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Amie at December 17, 2004 11:58 AM

You have a very smart man! And you're was meant to be. Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by: margene at December 17, 2004 11:17 AM

i love this story! and the sweater! so beautiful!

Posted by: shobhana at December 17, 2004 09:46 AM

Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. The sweater is stunning too.

Posted by: Christina at December 17, 2004 09:29 AM

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tale and such a beautiful sweater.

Posted by: Shelby at December 17, 2004 07:35 AM

Thanks to all for your sweet comments. You either must be up late, early, or in Singapore!

Marnie, Caia is twelve, and she's been with Moxie since she was a pup. We met almost eight years ago in the park, walking our dogs, which we both got when we were in college. The dogs and the cats are both a big part of the relationship - but that's another story!

Posted by: Julia at December 17, 2004 07:26 AM sweet! that's one of the best real-life stories ever! my hubby keeps wanting me to knit (i made him 3 already) but it's so warm and humid in Singapore that it's not practical for him

Posted by: Emy at December 17, 2004 05:16 AM

What a lovely story and so nice that he knew the sweater was the one to wear for the ceremony!

Posted by: Sarah W. at December 17, 2004 04:22 AM

Julia, thank you for sharing your wonderful story!

Posted by: Marta at December 17, 2004 03:48 AM

what a romanitic story. I'm actually in the process of knitting a special someone a sweater. I agree that even though I have doubts in giving it out, I'm still continuing the project. I think I'll give it to him before the end of this year.

Posted by: marjorie at December 17, 2004 03:35 AM

How could he resist you when you can knit like that?! Gorgeous!!

Posted by: Jean at December 17, 2004 02:43 AM

Awwww... Julia- of the many lovely and touching stories I've heard you tell, this takes the cake. A beautiful sweater like that deserves a history! I miss you lots and lots!

Posted by: Mary-Heather at December 17, 2004 02:26 AM

Ahhh, what a story. It's a shame your handsome man is so shy, but at least he allows that gorgeous sweater to shine.
I didnít realize that Caia had been a part of your lives so long as well. The three of you are just regally lovely. Thanks for sharing your story. I love a happy ending.

Posted by: Marnie at December 17, 2004 01:27 AM

Julia, what a *great* story. Thank you for sharing that. The sweater is amazing. Congrats to you and Moxie!

Posted by: Jenny at December 17, 2004 12:33 AM

A beatiful sweater and a beautiful story. Congratulations on both. :)

Posted by: alison at December 17, 2004 12:07 AM