04 September 2011

Unraveling the Lure of the Sloppy Joe Sweater

Why do I yearn to pull over an oversized pullover? The “Sloppy Joe Sweater” – that long, baggy pullover sweater that is oft that of the opposite sex’s wardrobe begins to call my name as the leaves begin to change.

It harkens me back to crisp evening ballgames, September bonfires and ice skating on ‘Forest’ pond. I will get to the modern sweater in a later post, but first I wanted to share some fables about my favorite well-worn cables as I unpack those sweater boxes.

My grandpa Ken was an outdoorsman. We have shoeboxes of photos showing ‘Kenpa’ in all of his glory holding the big fish high in one hand, oar in the other. On his back, of course the Woolrich Sweater and camp shirt pulled over buttoned up oversized trousers.

‘ Franma’ went along on at least one of these excursions and lore has it that she gathered berries while Ken and his brother were out catching dinner. When they returned she had baked a fresh berry pie in the coals of the fire pit.

My mother had a love of sweaters, too. She had one that I loved to borrow. It was crème with blue and red accents at the neck and bands on one sleeve only. She said that the asymmetry was a designer accent. I wondered for years whether it was an accent or a mistake.

When I traveled to Europe in my teenage years I discovered the beauty of the Norwegian Cable Knit sweater. This sweater always needed to be paired with legging on me as it was and still is as over-sized as they come. The thing I love the most about my old ‘Scandi’ Pullover is that I can wear it all winter long without an overcoat. It is truly the warmest sweater I have ever worn.

Last story. We all have that oversized pullover that we keep long past its expiration date. Mine is a simple mottled Scottish Aran Sweater. I guess the Scots are not known for their sweaters for nothing. The color matches every outfit, as an Aran sweater is made from undyed natural-colored báinín yarn made from sheep's wool, sometimes "black-sheep" wool. I have mended my old favorite several times, even patching the elbows, and I feel that like so many things, it just gets better with time.

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