Dear Essential cardigan,
You should know right up front that I own a chest half-full of hand-knit sweaters and cardigans, and every one of those has remained in that chest even as the weather has started its slow slide toward winter. I have been faithful only to you, wearing you nearly every day for at least an hour or two since August turned to September.
I may look frumpy in you, but you know what? I don’t care. You are warm. You fit me. Your sleeves are exactly the right length. You are comfortable left open, comfortable partially buttoned, and comfortable fully buttoned. You don’t fit too snugly around my neck. You don’t require I tie up my hair out of your way. You aren’t stretched out of shape by my hips or my breasts, and you don’t hang off me as though I weren’t ample enough to fill you either. You are everything I look for in a cardigan or sweater, and more. And your color is not bad either.
The knitting part, mind you, was not always peaches and cream. We shared some rough moments (see notes). There was ripping back, frustrating recalculations, and odd, if not downright off, pattern instructions.
But you, finished, with your fine homey details, your little nubs of gathered stitches. They beg my forgiveness for all the rocky bits of your making, including that fussy sewn-on garter stitch button band and collar. Your sweet little collar. Such a fine self-turning thing.
And then there are the funky buttons I scored at the 2011 Finger Lakes Fiber Festival, the gold and brown half-moon ones with the turquoise edge that just jumped off the rack and into my bag without a glimmer of a plan for how I’d use them. Not unlike the feckless manner with which I bought your yarn at that unfortunate going-out-of-business sale a few years earlier. But once I found your pattern, you both came together like it was meant to be.
My feelings toward you are only enhanced by the fond memories I have of finishing you. I had luxurious stretches of time during my silent retreat in July to read, to paint, to knit, to sew you up, to … sweat. Damn, but it was hot at the monastery in July. People walked by without speaking, an eyebrow raised, looking at me a bit funny as I sat with you on my lap, your yarn clinging to my sweating fingertips. Fortunately the monastery was full of irregular types that week, like a good monastery ought to be, so I doubt I stood out as much as I imagine I did.
When I had sewn on the last button, and woven in the last end of yarn, I watched the weather change. Fantastic clouds roiled up over the Hudson. Thunder interrupted our silence with lightning, torrential rain and a rainbow, and cool, cool breezes. And me, without a jacket or sweater … but, no. I had you! And I needed you. I still do.
So, you see, I cannot resist you. I am helpless in your presence. But here’s the thing. You’re getting a little — how to put this — sorry-looking with all the wear. To be frank, you are in need of a bath. Not that I’m too concerned with how we look together! Remember, I’m not deterred by a little frumpiness on your part or mine. I am rather fussy about cleanliness, however, and so I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to spend a little time apart. Just long enough for you to have a good soak, towel-fluff and air-dry. Don’t worry. We will be back together in no time. And I won’t fall for another sweater in the meantime. Promise.