Nov 222014

I am now in possession of this mysterious almost-finished sweater, knit by a stranger’s hands. Brooklyn Craft Company hosted a craft swap where people gathered to exchange art supplies. After the event, I came by to look through the leftovers and pick up materials for the nonprofit organization I work for. Going through the boxes and bags of yarn, I found this:


No one seems to know the sweater’s true story. Word has it that someone came in, dropped off the sweater and left without sticking around for the swap. I picked up the sweater a few times as I was looking through the assortment of yarn and choosing which materials would work for my office. I felt the soft hand-dyed yarn, felt the hours of handwork in each inch of the fabric.

Someone put all this work into making a sweater, and then just gave it away?!? I’m so curious about the sweater’s story. Or really, about the knitter’s story. Did the sweater not fit and the knitter simply got fed up? Why not just frog (unravel) the sweater and re-use the beautiful yarn? Was it a gift for someone else, and then the relationship changed and the knitter couldn’t bear to look at the yarn anymore? Did someone die?

Dramatic perhaps, but giving due weight to dozens of hours of work mysteriously abandoned feels fitting.

I have plenty of unfinished projects, ones I know will never get completed in their current iteration. But at the same time, the materials are very precious to me, and I can envision myself re-purposing them one day. Or at least unraveling the project back to raw yarn. Offloading the partially finished project feels categorically different to me.

When I took more time to explore and think through my catalog of unfinished knits, I did eventually find a project or two I could picture myself abandoning the same way of this sweater. Like that striped felted laptop messenger bag (Ravelry link) that seemed like a great idea in 2005, which I have zero desire to line and finish. It just sits in a craft bin, waiting for the day when I decide its final fate. I would gladly offload this onto someone who would make use of it. Seriously, do you want it?


Given my sizable yarn stash and backlog of projects, I was hesitant about taking ownership of the mystery sweater. After the third time I picked it up and again commented to Brett (bkcraftco’s founder) about it, she said the sweater would get tossed out if I didn’t take it. OK, that did it!


I’m this yarn’s last chance. So I took the sweater home – I love the yarn color, and have dreams about giving it new life.

I tried the sweater on for curiosity’s sake, knowing full well that I wouldn’t wear it even if it did fit (which it didn’t). The design doesn’t suit my style. The yarn, however, is perfect for me, and the semi-solid (hand-dyed?) colorway will take very well to complex and simple stitch-work alike. There was an extra skein of yarn along with the balls still attached to the sweater, but no yarn label. It feels like wool sock yarn, plied with a fairly tight twist.

I feel a twinge of sadness about unraveling a stranger’s handwork. But my excitement about giving this yarn a new life – in the form of a wearable sweater – is much greater. I’m thinking of a long sleeve cropped pullover, with a horizontal cable band at the waist.

Do you have any projects you would anonymously abandon part-way through like this sweater?

  One Response to “Mystery sweater: what’s your story?”

  1. Hm. Coming to the end of my self-imposed “Year of Knitting WIPs”, I have to say that no, there is not one that I would just give away. I frogged several over the course of the year and may yet frog a FO that just doesn’t fit. I still have 7 WIPs left and they will hibernate for a while, but I won’t just dump them. I just couldn’t. What makes me really, really sad is that the knitting, especially in the second picture, looks so fine and even. This is beautiful work.

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