Ode to Knit

I spent 18 years of my life blind to the joys of a knit sweater.

Growing up I never had to wear one: It was never cold enough. The only exposure I had to sweaters was in cartoons and sitcoms, where every winter the children would have to bring out their dreaded winter-wear which they’d been hiding for months.

Tucked away in the forgotten corners of attics and basements, the sweaters lay in waiting like monsters. Though they had spent most of the year happily avoiding them, the characters’ backs were against the wall, and to survive the winter they needed the sweaters.

When the sweaters themselves were revealed I understood why they were treated like monsters. A knit sweater on TV always seemed too tight, too hot, too painfully itchy. The designs looked like a Hallmark store threw up on them. As the characters struggled to pull the scratchy wool over their heads, I sat comfortably in my 75 degree weather and thought, thank God I don’t have to deal with that.

Eventually those words would come back to bite me when I came to Emerson. My first real winter was Boston’s worst winter winter of all time. One hundred and ten inches of white bullshit buried the city, and I was unprepared.

The first chance I got, I marched through the 10-foot snowbanks down to Newbury Street with only one thing on my mind; warm clothing. Like the characters I grew up watching, my back was against the wall, and my need for a scratchy sweater was greater than my need for comfort.

I quickly ducked into the All Saints store, grabbed the first sweater I could find, and rushed to the fitting room. It was there on Newbury Street that my life changed forever. As I pulled the wool over my head, I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything I thought I knew about sweaters was wrong.

It felt soft.

It felt like a warm embrace.

It felt like my bed in the morning when it’s too cold outside to get up.

It felt like it was made for me.

I felt like a fool for denying myself this simple pleasure for so long. I left the fitting room without taking it off, and went back into the snow, now feeling slightly less miserable. I continued my march down Newbury, clearing out every store I passed of their nice knitwear.

By the end of that winter I had a closet full of wool and sweaters for every occasion. When spring came I was happy to be done with the snow, but saddened by the thought of having to pack away all the sweaters I trekked so hard to get.

Just like the cartoon characters I used to watch, I packed up my warm clothes in a cardboard box and sent them away to storage. But now I don’t experience that same sense of dread when winter approaches. When I see that first forecast of heavy snow, I get excited to once again feel the warm embrace of my sweaters.

Text by Daniel Kam

Photos by Austin Quintana