Last week, I was browsing the thrift shop on my street when I came across something fairly extraordinary.
One of the nice things about being a crafty person is that you can easily recognize something handcrafted, and vice versa, recognize something clearly made by a machine. It didn't take long before I realized that this sweater was a handknit. There were several clues: it had neither a tag nor a place where a tag had been cut out; the sleeves and sides were mattress-seamed; the top edge of the collar was tacked down, making a fold; the back seam of the collar was fairly visible; there was a small rip in the seam on one of the sleeves (not in the knitted pieces, just in the joining); and I recognized the cast-on. Store-made sweaters have distinctive edges on the hems and cuffs, not clear cast-ons.
I knit an Aran sweater myself last year. It was a hard slog -- a fun time, to be sure, but quite difficult -- so I can't imagine anyone relinquishing a handknit Aran to the thrift store donation pile. In the end, I decided that it was a gift and the recipient either didn't like it or didn't want it anymore. Call me biased, but I simply cannot imagine the original knitter giving it up to a shop with nary a thought.
It's a fabulous sweater, roomy and warm. Like the Aran I knit last year, it's very unflattering to wear -- rather like sporting a comforter. I'm sure it would look much better on me if I were a man and 6'5". Still, I knew I had to have it, to make amends with the original knitter, and because I left my own Aran at home.
Here are some detail shots as well:
N.B. Of course I do not store my knitwear on hangers. I fold up my sweaters! Or I at least ball them up gently in drawers. I know that storing sweaters on hangers (except for those fancy padded kinds) will kill the shoulders.