Sweaters You Can Stab
I have a strong love for sweaters that have images on them. Perhaps this comes from being a child of the 90’s, when heavily patterned and themed sweaters were legitimately cool for a period of years. Perhaps it’s because my grandmother knit me the absolute most amazing Snow White cardigan when I was in elementary school; if that sweater still fit, I would wear it all the time. It might also be that such sweaters are never malicious or intimidating—plus it’s hard to be depressed when you’re wearing a sweater with a giant cat face on it.
What I don’t like is the recent commodification of “ugly Christmas sweaters.” These are sweaters that have been specifically manufactured to be ugly, to be mocked rather than loved. Even worse, I’m now seeing ugly Christmas sweaters that aren’t even sweaters—they’re just T-shirts with screen printed designs that look vaguely sweater-ish. Kitsch, in order to be true kitsch, should come from a place of love, not cynicism. (I have strong opinions about sweaters, in case you cannot tell.)
Sometime in October I was asked if I would be willing to do a video about needle-felting sweaters with Whitney Dorband, our marketing guru who also knows her way around a bag of wool. The concept of needle felting on sweaters combines so many things that I love. First, it lets you cover up holes and stains, which as an avid thrift store shopper I find wonderful. There are so many yummy cashmere, alpaca, and Merino sweaters sitting on hangers because they have an ugly coffee stain or a few holes.
Second, it lets you create your own, unique sweater designs—so if you want a sweater that features a cat in a Santa hat, you can make it.
Third, it requires little free-hand artistic talent. While I have no problems designing and weaving up cloth, the idea of creating free-hand designs is quite scary. While needle felting can be done free-hand, you can also use cookie cutters or stencils to help guide your design.
Finally, let’s be honest: needle felting is a great stress reliever and a constructive way to get rid of anxiety. Just place your wool and (carefully) start stabbing. Your stress will melt away and you’ll have created something lovely.
Making the video was so much fun, and I made a wonderful holiday sweater that I absolutely love and wear on a regular basis. I plan on getting some more wool and old sweaters and needle felting some more. Whatever I do, I know that it will be great fun and it will come from a place of love.