Just the way it should be

Last night, while I was visiting Luis, his mum Katie produced one of his sweaters and asked if I could replace a broken button.  I’m sure I can (you saw the button bin yesterday, the odds are excellent I can find another, or replace all four) and I packed it along home to do it.  It’s the cormo sweater I knit for him months ago

and he’s still wearing it, wearing it enough that Katie really would like it to have the button fixed, which is a good sign. This morning I pulled it out of my bag and had a good look.  The sweater looks very, very different now.

It’s  clean, but has stains from when Lou scooched along, hiking himself forward on his forearms over floors and carpets like a little commando going under the fence. It’s a little pilled, from many, many washes, and the bib of the front is quite felted, from the wet of teething and the months of sliding himself along on his belly.  This sweater looks very, very used, and Katie said that the button broke while he was sliding through the big yellow tube at the park, and that means he was wearing it at the park.

It’s quite the worse for wear.  Every time I see Lou he’s wearing a handknit, and the way this sweater looks means that Katie isn’t just sliding him into one when she hears me come up over her front steps, like the way you get out the tablecloth your aunt gave you when she comes to visit.

This sweater could only have gotten to look like this one way.  Hard use. This sweater has obviously been played in, slept in, eaten in – and I’m so completely thrilled.  I would rather see a handknit I made a kid that looks like this than something tucked away and never used because it’s too precious. This is the exactly the role I want handknits to play in my family.  Exactly this. A comfy, soft, ratty sweater.

I totally put a new button on.  I hope he wears it to rags, and Katie, who helped this little sweater get like this? She can count on an endless supply.

189 thoughts on “Just the way it should be

  1. Those are the people that will get many, many more knits from me!! Nothing better than a worn out handknit!

  2. I totally agree! I feel the same about quilts I make people. They are to be used not kept in a box.

  3. I completely agree with you. It always makes me happy when people wear the stuff I knit for them. My sister feels the same way about her quilts. She loves the fact that my mother, brother, and I use our quilts instead of hiding them away.

  4. I could not agree more! I have knit little sweaters that I know have never been worn. Hurts my sensitive feelings is what it does.

  5. I agree; no better way to show you appreciate the hand knits than to use them! That’s the kind of recipient I want to keep making more for.
    Glad to see the beautiful Yarn Harlot creations are being appreciated.

  6. i made my niece this amazing purple baby blanket for her arrival (her name is violet)and her mom said “Oh! this is for the hope chest!” i immediately corrected her. and every time that baby comes over wrapped in her blankie, with drool and mashed bananas all over it, i think two things. one, i am so happy to see it used, and two… i’m really glad i made it in cotton.

  7. I know just how you feel. My niece, who’s 4, had a stomach bug back in December, and was feeling pretty miserable when my sister (her mum) located some pink socks I’d knit for her. My niece, River, said they made her feel so much better that she was inspired to draw me a card to say thank you. I was so thrilled with the card that I swore forevermore, River is entitled to a lifetime of handmade sweaters, courtesy of her Aunt Carla.

  8. I completely agree. My granddaughter wore her hoody sweater with leaf appliqués from age 4 until she was nine, and the sleeves came to her elbows and the bottom was up to her ribs. It went through the wash frequently ( cotton Stria knit at a fairly tight gauge) and looks worn, but in good condition. Maybe a great-grandchild will get to wear it. She’ll get another one in a style she likes. It warms my heart.

  9. I knit a Chuppah for a wedding last summer. I was so tempted to do something oh-so-very-precious in some sort of fabulous lace weight but then realized it would end up in tissue paper on a shelf. Worsted weight wool, soft and squishy made for a gorgeous piece that the couple are now using as a blanket. And, if all goes as planned, they’ll be snuggling some babies up in it.

  10. I made a baby blanket for a friend once, and she kept it carefully folded and put away so it wouldn’t get damaged.
    On the flip side, a blanket I made for another baby got used so much it ended up a pile of string – hooray!

  11. I couldn’t agree more. If I’m going to put the effort into making something, I want to see it worn to rags – at which point, I’ll be happy to make a replacement item.

  12. I always make more for those who USE my handknit things. It makes it worth it to see someone enjoying what I’ve made.

  13. I’m with you that a sweater made with love should be used and even abused. Mind you, I can’t imagine anyone not loving and using any hand knit item you make.

  14. I agree! One of my favorite memories is of helping my brother and sister-in-law move – when I was unpacking my nephew’s clothes with my SIL, we found all of the sweaters I made him in his first year – all worn on the tummies, stained and pilled – evidence that they were well used and loved. She cried over her little boy having grown so much in his 5 years, I cried knowing that I had kept him warm and cozy when he was tiny. What a moment!

  15. I want to click the “love” button like we do on Ravelry. “Love” that this sweater is used and cherished.

  16. What an incredible complement. I feel the same way. You know something is loved and appreciated when it is used, like a favorite stuffy or blankie. That reminds me, I gotta knit a baby sweater for a niece.

  17. I am with you on that one. I knit a version of your watermelon hat for a friend from my church choir. I know the kid wore it a lot and then a second baby came along and it got worn some more. I then got a very nice e-mail from her extolling the virtues of that hat and saying unfortunately it had gotten lost and would I be willing to knit another. I was thilled to knit it. A fellow choir member has knit sweaters, etc., for this woman who now has three boys. Why, because the knits are worn, cared for, loved and appreciated.

  18. A couple of years ago while I was working at our local library, someone I know slightly came in, pointed to her toddling child and said “recognise this?” This, it turned out, was a mad-coloured cotton cardigan with home-made fimo buttons I’d made for a friend’s first child, and it was now on its fifth child and its third family. It was about to die on its feet – frayed wrists, frayed elbows – but it was still going. I wanted to weep with happiness about that, and also about not having a camera with me.
    About three months later, the fimo buttons were delivered through my letterbox, so one of these days they’ll adorn another cardigan.

  19. It is great to see when someone appreciates a handknit item, and actually uses it. I feel that they are made to be used….not kept in a drawer to only find out that the child has outgrown the sweater. The other day, I found in a tote, my first baby sweater that I made. Both of my daughters wore that sweater….and it still looks pretty good.

  20. A true sign that a gift has been appreciated is by the use and practicality.

  21. Exactly how I felt the first time my husband wore through a pair of hand knit socks. I was so thrilled he now gets a new pair every Christmas.

  22. I once gave a first-time Mom a handknit sweater for her new babe. She opened it up and immediately said “Oh, it’s so pretty. I’ll be afraid to put it on her.” Needless to say, I gently reminded her that the baby wearing it was the whole point. Its not meant to be an heirloom. (And trust me, this was not a beautiful lace baptismal gown that might be an heirloom. It was a baby sweater by an advanced beginner knitter.)

  23. That is the greatest feeling ever, isn’t it? It’s one I’ve never gotten to enjoy with my own family, and it’s why my brother’s kids don’t get hand-knits from me anymore. (They’re only 2 1/2 and 8 months, it’s not their fault). The toys and blankets I’ve knit for friends’ and coworkers’ kids? Used until tattered. My SIL however, does the “display” thing. She’ll make them wear it once to show me, and then it either goes to goodwill or gets forgotten. In one case, the lambswool blanket I knit my first nephew (who passed away), got destroyed by their awful dog JUST after my second nephew had adopted it as HIS blankie… I quickly crocheted him a new blankie, but out of acrylic, and it was not as finely crafted as the first, because I know that chances are, the dog will destroy this one too 🙁

  24. I always say, the best thank you I can get for a handknit is the use of the handknit. Especially baby sweaters – A hard used sweater is the best sweater going…

  25. TERRIFIC PIECE, STEPH. SINCE HE’S BROWN-EYED, HIS MOMMA COULD DIP THE WHOLE THING IN TEA OR COFFEE TO BLEND THE GRUBBINESS. Light brown is the hot color in infants clothes for boys and girls. Love it!!!

  26. It is not just sweaters either. When my son & his cousin were both brand new they were gifted quilts. Beautiful, handmade quilts from my s-i-l courtesy of her mother’s skilled hands. My instant reaction was to throw it onto my boy’s cot, knowing full well it would see hard action. My other s-i-l?
    “Oh, how beautiful. I shall hang it on his wall as soon as we get home.”

  27. I made a huuuuge Hemlock Ring as a gift, and I know for a fact it’s been folded up in a closet for three years. I almost asked for it back…but I stopped myself. A gift given is something that’s no longer mine.
    (Aren’t you proud of my restraint?)

  28. Exactly. I love to see things used, worn, worn out.
    I heard this week that a quilt I made for a baby 5 years ago has been “adopted” by her younger sister and is being dragged everywhere. I love that!

  29. How wonderful! I can see why it’s a favourite, it’s a lovely sweater – for a lovely little person too, I’m sure.

  30. It reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit…you’re not “real” until you’re worn out. From love.

  31. Love, love your sentiment! While I love to knit, I should would like to be the recipient of knits for my children more often. Luis and Mama are lucky, loved ones!

  32. It reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit now. All that love has made it more real.

  33. I crochet a lot of baby afghans, and I’m never prouder than when I’m told the baby has chosen it to be “blankie.” I’ve had moms haul out my afghan with big holes worn in it and ask me to fix it because the kid loves it so much. There’s nothing better than knowing something you made especially for one person is used and loved enough to get worn out.

  34. Oh my goodness, this thrills ME! How completely wonderful! I can only hope that the wee knits I’m making for a new baby in my family will receive the same love and devotion that little Lou’s sweater has.

  35. Yes. This. caey has it right – you’re not “real” until you’re worn out from love.

  36. I hope Katie will save it after little Lou outgrows it; then he can someday pass it along to his wee ones for them to enjoy and love. pl

  37. Sweet post. I knitted baby blankets for twins recently, and I hope they’ve been stuck in stroller wheels, pasted with banana and dragged along the streets of NYC – but I’ll never know.

  38. Loving something to pieces is a huge compliment. I treasure an early quilt I received, and it is completely worn, but is so soft and wonderful I just want to use it all the time. (I made my whole family acrylic hats this past Christmas and my 24-yr-old nephew has worn his to destruction – he’s getting another one in nice wool this time!)I hope my knitted baby gifts to friends are as used as yours. Magical.

  39. I’m so happy to hear this well worn & loved sweater has a new button. The only sweaters I knit that ever get to look like this are the ones that I wear. Otherwise they are all, as you said, probably tucked away in a drawer. That makes me even sadder and second guessing myself & my work.

  40. That is wonderful. I feel the same way about my socks. I wear them to pieces and that is how I know they are a good thing. Of course, I’d rather that the knits I give as gifts get that treatment, but for now knowing my own knits get that treatment is enough.

  41. Love it.
    I knitted 2 baby sweaters for 2 babies that are now 6 & 7 months old and I love the fact that I see them wearing them when the parents aren’t expecting to see me. Add to that they are starting to look worn and old & I am one thrilled knitter. Love it when handknits wear out!

  42. I can so relate to this. Nearly brings me to tears when Moms show me their child’s “blankie”, that I made, nearly in shreds. Their child loved their blankie THAT much!

  43. I love that. I hate when I give a handkit and it goes in a drawer. Use it up! Put a hole in it…better yet put three holes in it. I want the recipent to get as much joy out of using it as I did making it.

  44. When our girl was tiny, my mom gave me a big bag of hand me downs from a friend of the family. In the bag were two lovely pairs of tiny handknit socks, little heels perfectly turned, that had obviously never been worn. As a knitter (who had almost zero time on my own needles with a job and tiny baby) I felt so sad for these little objects of love that had never been used. I can assure you all they had a second life, being well used until they no longer fit (these were infant socks, so not much wear) and then donated so that someone else could — hopefully — enjoy the love as well. Funny that the knits do eventually wear out, but the love in them never seems to.

  45. What a beautiful (and greatly loved) sweater! I too understand that joy of handknits that are used. My son looks so sweet and sad when he brings me his socks to show me those worn sections in the heels and that this toes have started to poke through. I always cast on a new pair right away. My son, by the way, is thirty-two.

  46. There’s a sweater in my family that my mom knit for her first grandchild (my niece) when said niece was around 4, I think. She wore it, then it came to me, and my two girls wore it. My youngest loved it so much she wore it until it was more like a belly shirt. Now that my girls are grown I’m packing it up and mailing it back to my niece, who got married last year and hopefully will have someone to wear the sweater yet again! It was “just” a green acrylic yarn with a horse pattern in white on the front, but it has worn like iron!! And every time I see it I cannot help but smile to think about the love and the mileage combined into this project.

  47. Well said. I love when you put into words what is in my heart & mind…a reminder of the things that matter most in life.

  48. A few years ago, I blew out my knee in a TaeKwonDo class & had to have surgery. My instructor was so upset, he didn’t sleep for at least a week and apologized to me for a good six months for an accident that was in no way his fault. To prove to him that there were no ill feelings, I knit him the most intricate, lined mittens I had ever made. Six years on, he was reusing to wear them because, he said in broken English,”They too beautiful. They are treasure. Sometimes I take out and look and I very thank you. I don’t want they wear out.” Last year I made him another pair, with a promise to make him new ones if any of them ever wear out. Now he wears them all winter.

  49. I have been reading your blog for 3 weeks now, and enjoy that you find something to write about every day. Look how much Luis has changed! That’s the part that would make me cry. The sweater seems to much like a favorite blanket or toy like the Velveteen Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh or the knitted Milo. My sister made a quilted blanket for my son when he was born. Twenty nine years later, I still pull it out and compare it to the pictures of him wrapped in it,sleeping on or under it, etc. It is really faded, the batting is coming out of it, and since my sister has passed, I am really glad I kept it. After years of crocheting, I learned how to knit (5 years ago), and hope I can give a keepsake that gets good use like your sweater, one day.

  50. I knit a baby blanket for friends about a year ago. Recently they took a trip and I saw the blanket make many appearances on and around the baby all over New Orleans. Thought that was awesome!

  51. Katie really gets it, doesn’t she? Gotta love that about her!

  52. That is a family that will get several more handknits (and maybe not just for baby).
    I made a baby blanket for my husband’s younger niece and I’m not sure they use it but I can’t imagine they wouldn’t. They live across the country so I have no idea. Oh well.

  53. Is there anything more heartwarming than something knit with luv….that continues to be luved?!!!!!! Waaaaay to go Katie….& Luis…you are cuter-than-cute!!!!!! ((:

  54. These are the people who get sweaters from me! My granddaughter is wearing her sweater every time I see her. My sister’s hang in the closet unworn. Guess who I’m knitting for now??

  55. Wow – you captured my sentiments exactly. My daughter-in-law saves my handknits – ugh…..I just cant convince her that it is not a compliment to never wear them. She is saving them! argh! My daughter on the other hand wears them out on her children – guess who gets more sweaters!

  56. I completely agree. I have made two blankets for babies and I know one is a mere tatter of rags – and the 23-year-old who it was made for before she was born keeps it like a precious item. There is even her own attempts of sewing up tears from when she was just a kid, big stitches in an odd color, but those repairs just make it more special.

  57. Yesterday I wrote that the sweater you are working on would be passed on as an heirloom. I was totally wrong. It should be worn just as you said. The biggest complement someone can give a knitter, having been given handknits, is to ask for more of the same.

  58. Honestly, it still looks amazing to me. And yes, well worn is the highest possible compliment.

  59. Usually lurk but this made me tear up. My Mum spent the run up to Christmas knitting a sweater for my 21 year old niece “just like this one”. This one was her 12th birthday present, a cotton stripe now ragged and fraying but so very loved.

  60. Dearest Stephanie, you reach right into my heart and put words to my feelings so often. I agree with every word. Am I silly for getting teary over this perfect explanation of what I have felt for so long?

  61. My daughter has a blanket which has almost been loved to death and is already lining up handknits she wants for her own kids (hopefully not for a few years yet) and I know she will allow her kids to use and abuse them so I can’t wait to knit for her.

  62. Wasn’t it Ken that called handknits ‘portable love’? And what a wonderful way for Luis to grow up knowing he is surrounded (in more ways that one) by love. He was a beautiful baby and is one good looking fella, now!

  63. I couldn’t agree more….I’m also a quilter, and I always tell mothers that I fully expect the baby quilt to be reduced to rags on the first day of school.

  64. Exactly how I feel about my hand knits. People ask if it upsets me to see them like that. No way. I love that they’re being worn and loved.

  65. The best compliment is to wear it till it’s worn out, or hopelessly too small. Don’t even think about dying something that has been worn and washed; it will never take dye evenly.
    Though, having said that, I acknowledge that I have a trunk full of sweaters that my mother and I knit for my kids, now 25 and 29. Silly sentimental me.

  66. Like!
    (I don’t read many blogs, so I don’t know if it’s possible, but I wish yours had a “like” button ala Facebook, so I could “like” you pretty much every time you post!)

  67. Lucky, lucky Luis! And lucky Katie! My boy is the same age as Luis and I love handknit baby clothes and wish he had some, but don’t actually know how to knit and don’t know anyone well who does. If my husband and I didn’t live a continent away from family and didn’t both have to work full time, I would learn knitting in a heartbeat just so my baby could wear the love too. Lucky Luis!

  68. The greatest compliment I can get for my knitted gifts is when the recipient asks me to knit them another because they wore out the original. I feel the exact same way as you, I love a worn-out sweater!

  69. I used to crochet baby blankets for friends and family whenever needed. I gave one to a favorite cousin who said she would hang it on the wall over his crib. Really?? I don’t use blankets that way! My daughter had a Baby Surprise sweater that she wore everywhere she went. When she finally outgrew it, she asked me to make her another! She gets as many handknits as I have time to make her 🙂 My mother asks for handknit dishcloths every year for Christmas. Of course you can have some! Anyone that uses what I make until it wears out will get whatever they want!

  70. Oh yes, I feel the same way about my handknits. My sister was the best person to knit for (really, to make anything at all for), because she valued handmade items above all others and because she USED them. She picked up embroidered towels at yard sales and used them, made sure that the blankies I made my nieces were their everyday blankets and generally made me so glad to have made things for her and them. When she got cancer, she wore the hat I made her and even requested a new one that would match her funeral clothes when she knew she was dying. That was a hard thing to make, of course. But she wanted to look cute at her funeral. I had her girls each do a few stitches in their mama’s hat, and my daughers and our aunt helped me, too. I guess my sister and I use handmades as emotional armor, too. It’s like being covered in love. 🙂

  71. I say the same thing to my friends when I give a baby quilt. My aspiration is that some day one of my baby quilts that I have sent out into the world becomes a ratty loved blankie. They do, after all, come with a lifetime of free repairs.

  72. A dear friend knit my son a blankie when he was born. He wore that blankie down to string. This year I finally emailed her and asked if she still had the pattern around. He wanted me to untangle and re-knit it for him. It would have been easier to buy new yarn, but then it wouldn’t be real. Friend was delighted. (But I have to make up a new pattern.)

  73. This is exactly what I want to see happen to a handknit I’ve worked hours on for anyone! It means so much to know it’s been used and loved and used again. It breaks my heart to knit for someone who either doesn’t appreciate the item at all (this will get them right off the “knit-worthy” list) or thinks it’s “too good” to use!

  74. Hard use like that’s just an expression of pure love — in both directions: knitter to wearer and wearer (and his mom) to knitter. What a beautiful thing!

  75. I 100% agree with the sentiment that it’s heart-warming to see handknits go on to be used and loved. I don’t think I necessarily agree, though, that seeing them wrapped up and preserved for the future is a bad thing, or would mean that I wouldn’t continue to knit for that person. So long as I know my stitches are loved and wanted, I don’t really mind how the recipient chooses to express that. I know some of my knits get used constantly, and that’s just thrilling. Others are used very sparingly, and I get emails or calls saying, “I wast keeping your socks for the day of winter when I just couldn’t stand it any longer, and now they’re out and making winter bearable. Thanks so much!” Well, that’s equally thrilling! Or what about a lace shawl made for a wedding, then preserved carefully for anniversaries, babies, the baby’s wedding, and so on? I think there are a lot of ways to show proper appreciation for a handcrafted gift, and I think that it’s great that Luis and Katie and showing one particular one for this lovingly knit gift.
    Now, please tell us about those birdie buttons from the other day? Please?

  76. What a lovely commentary on a well loved sweater. There are two people in my ring of loved ones who will no longer be receiving any of my hand knits because I never see them wear them. That’s ok, my grandsons will just get more!

  77. my reflex was to hit the “like” button! LOL! As you said, “Exactly as it should be.” 🙂

  78. Many years ago I knit a wildly-colored entrelac baby bunting, with a hood, for a friend’s second child. She used it for that child and her next three as well. There’s nothing better than knowing a handknit is used and loved!
    In fact, that’s why I’m currently knitting socks to order for my husband — beige socks, several pairs, my idea of pure hell — because he’s started wearing handknit socks to work every single day. How can I not make sure he has what he wants and needs? Especially after it took me a couple years to persuade him that handknit socks are better than storebought, too. In fact, he just gave away all his storebought socks — and I couldn’t be more thrilled! (This might not all have happened if he had bigger feet, however…)

  79. I am always frustrated when people say my handwoven towels are too pretty to use. Another weaver said this to her mother, who put the handwoven towels away in a drawer and didn’t use them: “When you go out for dinner and the meal looks beautiful on the plate, you don’t take it home and put it in a drawer. Use the towels!”

  80. Perfect. As opposed to my MIL, who said “Well, I WON’T try it on, it doesn’t match what I’m wearing.” to a hand knit sweater. And I never saw it again.

  81. It is the best lesson to learn as a knitter, only knit for those who appreciate your efforts. Good to know Katie is a wise woman!

  82. I once knit a sweater for someone, and he wore it for over twenty years. It would have lasted had I used a better yarn. When I knit him another, several years ago, I used splendid wool. It is worn constantly, and it makes my heart happy every time I hear of the travels of said sweater. Just like it warms my heart to hear you share the story of this sweater. Thanks for putting it so beautifully, as usual.

  83. I made a sweater for my niece when she was 5. It was big on her, so the sleeves were rolled up. When she was about 8 or so I was visiting and noticed in hung up in the porch with all outerwear. It had obviously been washed a zillion times and the sleeve cuff was unravelling. I fixed it. I saw her last fall, she is now 10, and she is still wearing it as a cropped sweater with the sleeves pushed up to the elbows. Cost of yarn – a few dollars. Seeing how much she loves it – priceless.

  84. I totally love this! We saw my husband’s niece a few weeks ago at Passover, and she was wearing a sweater that I knit for her probably 10 years ago when she was a freshman in college. I was thrilled to see that she still wore it (basic hooded pullover with kangaroo pockets)!

  85. You are so right!!!! Having only a few sweaters to wear that I knit for myself (and have taken a long time to finish), I always approach it like it’s something for a special occasion or wear it like it’s something fragile. Now I see this in an entirely different light; the bulb has been lit. Now I’ll wear them because I love it so and cared enough to put the time into it.

  86. You frame a blankie or sweater along with a picture of the sweet wee one….AFTER…. it is worn out and then it becomes a true heirloom.

  87. When my niece had the flu this winter, she emailed me to tell me that she couldn’t stop shivering but that her feet were warm and toasty in her hot pink alpaca “auntie” socks. We’re now in negotiations regarding her request for a blanket.

  88. When my sister was expecting her first baby I made a cot quilt. It was my first quilt and contained every newbie mistake possible, but my niece used it and loved it. When my sister was expecting her second baby 17 and half years later I came over to her house. Looped over the back of the chair was the quilt, freshly washed and ironed, faded in places, patched in others, waiting for the new baby. I made her stepson a jumper because I had made a quilt for the baby (he was nearly 4) and my sister ended up having to put him and the jumper in the bath together at one stage because he wouldn’t take it off. She even had to sneak it off when he was asleep to wash it. He wore it long past it’s use by date and he was tickled pink when I knitted jumpers for his baby daughters, just like I had for him.
    This was a beautiful post Stephanie and the gratuitous Luis pics made it more beautiful.

  89. I love how this sweater shows how much it has been loved! I am knitting a blanket for my first grandchild, and I hope it and every other hand knit I make for this baby look just like this sweater.

  90. I crocheted a big blanket years ago, mainly to use up some stash. I put it on my teenage son’s bed. it went to college with him, nd last winter I got teary-eyed when he handed it to me and asked if I could fix the holes. that kid gets hand knits/crocheted till I die!

  91. How wonderful! Whenever I gift a pair of socks, I say firmly “WEAR THEM OUT – you get a lifetime replacement guarantee”. Although I knit primarily for entertainment, I don’t want to end up like a few viral videos of knitting ‘hoarders’ who have rooms full of knits with no recipients.

  92. Pretty profound, Stephanie. Truly, though, in a way the recipient of a baby sweater or a pair of socks, for instance, needs to feel confident and reassured that it shouldn’t be treated as a precious item, because the temptation to do so is huge. My aunt knit my son a sweater that was so pretty, I just couldn’t let it be hard-worn, but I really should have. I wish I had dozens of pictures of him wearing it. At least it’s in good shape if I ever have a grandchild. I’ll make sure it’s worn, if that ever happens.

  93. Stephanie I couldn’t agree with you more . My mom taught me to knit when I was about 6. While she still knits, she doesn’t knit socks. I decided to knit a pair for her when I first learned how. She loved them but it wasn’t until about 6 months later that I found out how much. She called to tell me that she felt so bad because her socks were worn out. After assuring her that it was the best compliment she could give me, i made her another pair. Just like Katie, my mom will will always have a supply of hand knits, especially socks.

  94. I heaved a big sigh at the end of this post, because that’s exactly what happiness means to me. My little niece was given a baby blanket, and it’s in every single photo of her as a wee one, because they basically threw it under her no matter where and on it all the time. Nothing would make me happier than to make a new one because the original was loved all to bits.

  95. It is good to see how much use Luis has gotten from that sweater. Since he’s not dressing himself yet, it’s clearly a “go-to” piece for his parents — good looking, a good weight to keep him warm, and easy to get on and off the kid. Maybe it will last long enough for a future brother or sister to wear it out!
    The felting, though, does help make the case for using superwash wool for baby items. . .and things for males of any age. (Don’t hate. I’m a guy myself. If something isn’t machine wash, tumble dry, it might never get laundered!)

  96. When I started to knit a couple years ago, I had this conversation with my husband:
    Him: DON’T knit me socks.
    Me: Why?
    Him: I’d feel bad if they got holes.
    Me: I’m a process knitter. I give everything away.
    Him: Make me gray ones.
    So I knit him a pair of socks, but he still didn’t wear them until I made a second pair. Like Beth V. commented at 2:51 about her Taekwondo instructor. It’s like the second item lets them know you’re serious about replacements. (Granted, this is easier with small items.)
    There was some snack food manufacturer – can’t recall who – who had the slogan, “Eat all you want. We’ll make more.”
    I also believe that people who display a handmade gift as art aren’t necessarily wrong. Appreciation takes different forms, and if someone would rather look at something than use it, that’s their choice. And if someone stashes away a gift saying it’s too good to use, that sometimes means I didn’t understand the preferences of the recipient. It happens.
    Thanks for a sweet post.

  97. My mother knit all kinds of things for my grandmother (her mother-in-law). When Granny died we found all of those things, still in their original boxes, tucked neatly away on the closet shelf…she was “saving” them.
    I knit a baby blanket for the son of a teaching colleague and when I finally taught this young man (at the age of 14), his mother told me in strictest confidence that he still wanted his “Julie blanket” if he was sick. What different reactions to made-with-love items. It isn’t difficult to tell which reaction The Blog favors!

  98. That’s a good looking sweater, full of extra character from the wear and adventures it has experienced with Luis. Congrats!
    I do my best to cut all emotional ties to knitted gifts when I give them away. If the recipient wants to put it in a drawer forever because it is too precious to them to wear, so be it. IF they want to stuff it in the back closet because they don’t like it and it’s never seen again, so be it. If they take poor care of it or good care of it or wear it once or wear it hundreds of times, so be it. I will, however, confess to experiencing some degree of joy and perhaps smugness whenever I see one of the gifts I’ve knitted being worn or used. 🙂

  99. So now I can stop feeling guilty about allowing my aunts’ handmade quilts to be worn to rags, and my mother-in-law’s afghans to be used for hockey nets?

  100. I totally agree! I remmeber when I was forst knitting for people’s kiddies, I used to not want to give the knitted gift because I was so proud of the FO but then saw them all worn out and pilled and stretched and I felt so good!!!

  101. Gotta agree with you, and everyone else, it seems – well-worn = well-loved. Great post! I am amazed, however, that the sweater still fits this growing boy!

  102. AAwwww. That makes me feel as fuzzy inside as the fuzzy feltedness of the front Lou’s sweater :0)
    But at least you have a fantastic clue of what to knit next, after your giddy excitement of yesterday of not knowing what to do but loving the possibilities ;0P Who could resist or say no to an adorable face like that.

  103. you could always knit the next one in superwash wool – might wear a bit better.

  104. Aww that’s lovely, just how a sweater should end up. My mum knits for my LO but it’s all machine washable acrylic stuff which doesn’t show the wear. Now I’m getting back in to knitting for her (pregnancy killed my brain for knitting which was devestating really but I just couldn’t get myself to do it) I intend to make some lovely little woolies as well.

  105. So happy the sweater is worn and with distinction. It still looks wonderful. I knit my grandson an afghan for his birth and within a year was asked to repair a hole that had been caused when it caught in the stroller wheels. As you say, this is what we mean when we knit: “use it with love from the knitter”

  106. I’ve one hand knit that has seen hard use from three boys, and another that is in every photo I’ve seen of the child for the last eighteen months. This makes me so proud!

  107. Isn’t it the most wonderful feeling to know that the things we knit with love are just loved?

  108. A great tribute to a baby knit. I especially like the felted bits from chew and drool.
    But I wonder how Sam is doing after getting broken? Have you knitted a cast cozy yet?

  109. Score! Handknits are meant to be used, not kept in a drawer. The stains and felting are signs that Lou loves his sweater.

  110. My first knitted piece of clothing was an Angel Dress for my niece. It was made in her favourite colours — hot pink and bright orange — and I almost went blind knitting it. That was 2 years ago and my sis told me the other day that my niece is still wearing that same dress, now as a tunic with leggings. I immediately started looking for patterns suitable for my niece at her now advanced age of four…this is a girl who appreciates handknits!

  111. How absolutely gratifying…maybe I’ll see someone wearing one of my handknits to dead one day. Maybe my mom. I’m finishing up a vest which I think she will love. It’s all in her colors – a black brown mishmash. Although I’m growing to love it, but not enough to keep it. Must seam up with the mattress stitch and give it to mom. I dearly want to see her eyes sparkle and say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” But you know how it is, you want to make the people you love happy. (As an an aside, a niece regularly wears pajama pants I helped her make. I need to make more for all the nieces.)

  112. I so agree with this. If people don’t use my handmade gifts they don’t get them anymore. If I buy a gift and they don’t use it it doesn’t bother me because I didn’t create it with love. But when I make things specifically for that person, I put my heart and soul into it. Putting it away in a box and never using it is like throwing my love away. My mother-in-law used to do this, give a fake smile and say it was to good to use for everyday. I quit making things for her and after she passed away and we were cleaning out her house, I found those gifts shoved in the back of a drawer, never used.

  113. I so agree with this. If people don’t use my handmade gifts they don’t get them anymore. If I buy a gift and they don’t use it it doesn’t bother me because I didn’t create it with love. But when I make things specifically for that person, I put my heart and soul into it. Putting it away in a box and never using it is like throwing my love away. My mother-in-law used to do this, give a fake smile and say it was too good to use for everyday. I quit making things for her and after she passed away and we were cleaning out her house, I found those gifts shoved in the back of a drawer, never used.

  114. In my knitting basket I have socks that my dear, late mother-in-law wore holes in. She loved them, and wore them out. Fortunately, the holes are just in the toes. My sister-in-law gave them back to me after her passing, and said “Sorry they have holes. Maybe you can fix them and use them.”
    No way am I sorry! I now have a complementary sock yarn ready to replace the worn toes and my sister-in-law will be able to wear them herself.

  115. My nine-year-old nephew still carries around the blanket I made for him when he was a baby (even though it’s been repaired so many times you could make an argument it’s not the blanket I made for him when he was a baby), and nothing makes me happier.

  116. I agree with all these. Almost the first thing I knit (nervously) was a touque for our teenage grandson. He LOVED it and wore it non stop. This weekend our oldest granddaughter is coming to visit with our newest g-granddaughter. She’s going to pick fabrics for her quilt. Also bringing the six year old’s quilt to be mended. It’s lovely to see things well loved.

  117. There is a “failure” sweater at my house that has seen the hardest wear. I really messed up when I made it decades ago and it never fit my husband but I would wear it around the house as a sloppy sweater. Several years ago my daughter adopted it as her own and has worn it hard ever since. It is now so ragged I am knitting her a new oversized cardigan to take to college because this one is so wrecked I would take the time to pull it off her if we were running out of a house fire! It is by far the most cherished thing I have ever knit.

  118. Now that’s a heartwarming post. I love the fact that it is an everyday anytime sweater, as it should be. That’s what makes the labor totally worthwhile.

  119. I’m glad I came across this post. My mom knit a stunning lace sleep sack for my daughter, now 7 weeks, out of really nice washable wool. But it’s so beautiful, I’ve had it draped over the bedroom chest, and only put it on to take photos to send back to her, I’m afraid of ruining it somehow. I’ve even started to try and make one on my own, so my baby would have one to use, but I’m not nearly the knitter my mom is, and, of course, I don’t have enough time – my daughter is growing so fast.
    Having read all the comments, I think I will put her in it every evening and enjoy all my mom’s hard work. After all, it will be much more special as a keepsake if my daughter actually sleeps in it. Thank you ladies, for making me see that.

  120. You’re so lucky – I knit numerous items for my wee neice when she was born and I have yet to even have her be ‘slid into one cause they hear me coming up the driveway’ and she’s now 16mths! It makes me very sad as they were all made with love so I do wish they’d be worn. Now I just feel like there’s no point in continuing to knit for her (though I confess I do – I guess there’s still a smidgen of hope in me somewhere!)

  121. Of all people, I no longer knit for my own mother. I genuinely can’t tell if she doesn’t like the things I’ve made, if she thinks them too “precious”, or what – but she does not use anything I’ve knit. I’ve mentioned I could make more if they wear out, fix anything that gets damaged, launder things that require special care, etc. No go. My husband, though, who nearly wears out a knit hat each winter – he gets hand knits!!

  122. that is so true–a well used and loved piece is the BEST! Keep it up granny. GrannyC

  123. My mother and I shared the knitting of a little Irish Sweater for my son, much like Luis’s but Mike was 5 and a kindergarten kid. We both loved the fisherman cream color and all the stitches, I did the back, and one sleeve and she did the fronts and a sleeve. It was so warm he wore it to school each day that fall, and one day, he came tearing home, ran across the gas station on the corner, hit an oil spill and slided across the lot. You can only imagine what he looked like when he walked in the door, big black oil stain on the fronts, leather buttons scratched and stained, and told me he had a little accident.
    I got advice on what to do to pull out the oil, washed the buttons and let the scratches be, it took several washings but he wore it again! The yarn was Bernat’s Blarneyspun wool. By the way, this happened 42 years ago! I love all the long wearing knit stories!

  124. That is the best post on why many of us knit in the first place. Sure, we all have those delicate little pieces we cherish. But to see that sweet little man sweater, used by a little boy, it reminds me of Velveteen Rabbit, so loved that all of his fur had been loved off. This is his velveteen rabbit of sweaters. Absolutely wonderful.

  125. I feel that way about the quilts I made my nephews. I made baby quilts for both of them when they were born, a year apart. The first one my sister in law wouldn’t use because she deemed it too precious, even though I had told her that I really wanted it to be used. When she was pregnant for my second nephew I knew I had to design a quilt that was relatively stain proof if I ever wanted her to use it so I made an Amish medallion quilt in black with navy, royal blue, teal, bright purple and fuchsia as accent colors. It might sound a little hideous but it was really gorgeous. She finally got the message and used the quilts until years later, they were finally all used up. I now love to knit things for these same nephews.They really appreciate the time I’ve spent knitting for them and the love that goes into it. It sounds like Luis and his mom understand. Thanks for a great post. In some ways I think that the sweater you made Luis is even nicer now than when you first knit it.

  126. I so agree that knits are to be worn until they turn into rags! And then the cat can have them in her bed…
    That shows the love the went into them by the knitter and the love given to them by the wearer. May Luis and Katie enjoy another 100 sweaters!

  127. Stop this at once! This post has brought tears to my eyes first thing this morning. Lovely . . . you, Katie and precious Lou. This mommy is so very jealous. xo

  128. Oh, I love this. Over the years, I made eight Aunt Heidi baby quilts for each niece and nephew as they came along. Seven quilts became blankies that were hauled everywhere and loved to bits. The oldest is 30 years old, and is still in existence. (The quilt AND the nephew.) The eighth quilt was hung on a wall, because it was too pretty to use. Sigh…

  129. Yep! Why all the time and effort if it is not used! That is why I have so much sock yarn. I CONSTANTLY wear my own socks now and I have my darning ball on my desk next to this computer. I live in my socks, sleep in them when it is really cold in CT and I have run out of oil for the furnice. I wear my scarves to work as the concrete wearhouse floor keeps the computer area where I work feeling like an ice box and this winter in particular, my handknits kept me working at my computer..as I had on fingerless gloves I made 4 years ago!
    Yes Louis. Keep Auntie Steph busy making sweater that inspire the rest of us. You Louis are a great kid!

  130. This post made me realize that I have been treating my hand knits as too precious to use. Time for that to stop, and for them to be loved and used!

  131. There’s nothing quite like seeing a hand-knit present get worn! I made my dad a pair of fingerless gloves, because he drives and spends a lot of time tinkering with stuff outside in cold weather, and I haven’t seem him wear them once, even as he complains about not having any gloves. I haven’t given him anything since, because it feels like he doesn’t appreciate it.
    My mum, on the other hand, wears scarves I’ve made her on a nearly daily basis, which is why I was even prepared to give her a shawl I made for myself when she admired it out loud once.
    (My sister falls somewhere in between; she loses mittens and hats like it’s her job, but I gave her a sweater last christmas and she wears it all the time.)

  132. This is soo wonderful and heartwarming! And it is a great compliment to you because it means that you are able to knit things that are so comfy and warm a child likes them.

  133. Like everyone else in your comments, I love seeing my knits used and abused. My very first project was a complicated cabled blankie for my Goddaughter. I fought that pattern every stitch, and was on the verge of hating it, but then I saw a picture of my GD wrapped in it, and nearly cried. When I look at pictures her mom posts on the family’s blog, I’m thrilled to see the blankie being drug to the park, the mall, the grocery, everywhere.
    I will admit, the first time I saw it being drooled on, I nearly had a heart attack, but then I realized: it’s not mine, it’s my goddaughter’s, and that’s what I wanted for it–to be loved, used, and abused. I look forward to the day when I get it back for repairs.
    I do, however, think the commenters missed the most important statement in your post that truly touched my heart: “Last night, while I was visiting Luis…” Not his mommy, not his daddy, but him. What an auntie you are!

  134. I visited many sites except the audio quality for audio
    songs current at this web page is in fact excellent.

  135. As a knitter and new mom this post really resonated with me. Going to stuff my daughter into as many handknits as possible tomorrow. 🙂

  136. I can get quite sentimental about that sweet little felted patch at the top of a baby’s handknitted garment. I have some beautiful (cashmere!) dungarees that my mother made for my second son, and he wore them so much at his most dribbly stage, that the bib has shrunk down with felting. 🙂 They’re a treasured heirloom now, even though the felting probably means no other baby will wear them.

  137. This is one of my favorite blog entries. You said it so well. I knit a pretty blankie for my one and only great granddaughter. Every Facebook picture her Mommy posts shows her on or with the blankie. Makes me feel so good.

Comments are closed.