Bliss Notes: Sweater Weather

sweater weather
delicious for thin arms
nothing like 
the ecstasy of yarn
to protect against the lean times
                                            – Janet Lynn Davis in Haiku Harvest: 2000-2006

You won’t hear me grumbling that the air has turned chilly; I have always adored Fall.  
I love getting back into a routine, walking the dog through newly fallen leaves, and, of course, enjoying all things pumpkin. Most of all, I love being able to wear the sweaters I tucked away last spring. 
I fully identify with Michelle Hunevan who, in her essay in The Knitter’s Gift, wrote “David Byrne once sang that his life could me measured out in shirts; with my life, it’s sweaters.” We can remember the great ones: the pale pink Adrienne Vittadini with the pom poms at the neck, the LAMB cashmere fair isle, the Ports cardigan with the gold buttons. A great sweater is the fashion equivalent of a salted caramel hot chocolate with a swig of Baileys. As mystery writer Diane Mott Davidson writes in Chopping Spree, “I felt better once I bought a new sweater. It was cabled pink mohair and buying and wearing it made me feel loved again.” When nothing else is certain, a sweater can be a source of comfort. In Kate Jacobs’s The Friday Night Knitting Club, a newly divorced character comments, “While I’m figuring out this new life of mine, I think I might need a sweater or two.” In these uncertain economic and political times (U.S. government shutdown!), we could all use a sweater or two (just don’t buy it on credit!)

There really are no bad sweaters. Even holiday sweaters with real bells sewn into their hems are pretty great (visit We hate sheep. We love holiday sweaters if you don’t believe me.) Meryn Cadell in her fabulous teen girl angst anthem, The Sweater, declares “Now if the sweater has, like, reindeer on it/or is a funny color like yellow… I’m sorry, /you can’t get away with a sweater like that./” But after seeing Colin Firth get away with a reindeer sweater for a good chunk of the Bridget Jones’s Diary movie, I’d like to invite Ms. Cadell to open this up for discussion. (And, no, after reading the spoilers, I am not going to read the newest Bridget Jones installment! I’m far too grumpy about it all.) 

When shopping for a new sweater, we try to keep in mind architecture critic Michael Sorkin’s ideal: “Not an ordinary sweater, of course, but an exceptional sweater, a thrilling sweater, cozy, useful, glamorous, and unexpected. A sweater beyond sweaters from a closet full of fabulous sweaters.” A good sweater should feel like a hug and nothing beats cashmere for softness and warmth. What Not to Wear‘s Clinton Kelly officially stole our hearts when he declared, “If I were a super hero, I’d be cashmere man.” Seriously: love. 

In her terrific book on self-care, Wear More Cashmere, Jennifer “Gin” Saunders uses cashmere as a metaphor for taking care of oneself: “Years ago I stuck a mini post it on the side of my computer that read “Wear more cashmere.” It was a little reminder to myself … that I needed to spend a little time on myself, more often than I’d been doing.” Cashmere requires care (as someone who has passed on shrunken sweaters to my daughter, I know this all too well!) and it reminds me that I do too. 

In the end, it’s about the comfort and, whatever our sweater snack bracket, we can surround ourselves with softness and warmth. 

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