Sweater Stalking

I’ve been reading a little book of knitting observations and stories by Stephanie McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) and came across this:

You know you knit too much when … You find yourself stalking a man in the grocery store, not because he’s really good-looking, but because he is wearing an Aran sweater with a cable that you are trying to work out.

And I realized that that, unfortunately, is me.  But is it really too much?  Is it weird?  I’m think I need some non-knitter perspective here.

Here’s where I’ve drawn the line in the past:

– Often when we’re watching movies, or TV commercials someone comes on with an amazing sweater: gorgeous cables, intricate fair isle, an unusual construction style.  John, I think, finds it a little strange when I comment on the sweaters in the middle of whatever else is going on (what – it’s not your natural instinct to seek out all knitted items and deconstruct them with your eyes?) but doesn’t mind unless the knitwear commentary runs on too long.

So – pausing movies, rewinding, re-watching, taking screen shots, etc. to get a better view of a sweater: perfectly OK.  Maybe a little odd, but not creepy.

– Asking friends, family members, and acquaintances to let me examine their knitwear: acceptable, although perhaps a little weird.

I think this really depends on the person that I’m asking, and the situation.  I’m pretty shy about this, not wanting to be too intrusive, not wanting people to think I’m weird – but sometimes I do it.  I wouldn’t ask a friend to take off her sweater to examine it in public, but I did ask John’s brother if I could take a look at his over Thanksgiving.  I felt pretty weird about it, but as he is a family member and we were all staying in the same house (so I could look at it sometime when he wasn’t wanting to wear it), I went ahead.

(It really was interesting – side seams situated quite far forward of where they would usually be, inside-out mattress stitched seams, these interesting increases along the shoulder…)

– Where it gets tricky, though, is … what about the situations in which I am nowhere near brave enough to ask and begin to actively stalk?  A couple of weeks ago, for instance, we were doing some early Christmas shopping, found a gift, and found an interesting sweater-wearer employee to ring it up.  I was enthralled with his sweater, and spent the entire transaction staring at his cables and ribbing, trying to memorize it; I thought John would look quite nice in a similar sweater.

But then we walked away, and the first words from John were the magic ones – “That guy’s sweater was cool” – and suddenly my vague desire to reproduce it became a burning, imperative one, and I began to wonder if it would be weird to go back and take a surreptitious (and silent) photo on my ipod or phone.

I didn’t do it – I decided that was probably beyond the bounds of reasonable behavior – perhaps taking the benign knitterly sweater stalking into the realm of real-world, creepy stalking.

However, nothing stopped me from finding the nearest bench and making a hasty (and dreadful) sketch of what I remembered, and taking a couple of discreet loops around his counter to pick up as many details as I could….


4 thoughts on “Sweater Stalking

  1. In the last few months, I’ve gotten into a new hobby – serious weightlifting. Now I am constantly (at the gym, at least) staring at people’s glutes and hamstrings, wondering about their routine, how long they’ve been at it, etc. I think I have you beat on the potential awkwardness of asking for more info, let alone for a closer look(!)… ;) But I’m sure the cashier wouldn’t have minded if you asked to take a photo of the sweater, if you let him know the reason why – he would probably be flattered! Good luck on recreating the sweater :)

    • OK – yours is definitely weirder than mind. :)

      The thing is, I know that flat-out asking would probably not be that weird, and might even be appreciated, but I am just not good at talking to random strangers about random things, so asking is quite hard for me – even though I would certainly rather be asked than have someone sketchily circling around, casting sidelong glances my direction.

  2. Now the challenge may be to magine sweater(s). One of the first steps toward creating great art, if I understand it correctly, is to copy the masters…then gain better insight into one’s own creative realm. I think your studying others’ work is smart and merely a step on your path to creations you will surely make which are in turn studied by others. Love, Me

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