Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 50 -- "Nothing Gold (or Pink) Can Stay."

Day 50.  The mid-way point.  Winter (or at least winter sweater) weather is half-over.  Or, as the sweater-hating pessimists might say, "I am so sick of winter.  Can't we just skip to May?"  If we did that, of course, I'd be the odd duck who was wearing Fair Isle sweaters at the Memorial Day picnic (which, as I recall, might be more weather-appropriate than shorts and a t-shirt).

So, since this is sort of our midterm break, I thought it might be nice to reflect back on what we've accomplished so far, and then set goals for the remainder of the term.  Actually, let's just cut to the chase and tell you what you really want to hear: the body count.  As of this posting, 32 sweaters have drifted up to that great armoire in the sky.  This number is somewhat misleading, however, because it does not take into account how many new candidates are just waiting in the wings for their chance at stardom.  These newbies will just have to keep on waiting, however, because I've still got piles of chenille, boucle, and cowl necks that still need to put through their paces.

Just to be clear, I didn't create this blog because I wanted to cure myself of this sweater affliction.  If anything, I've become an even greater fan of knitwear after spending almost two months living, breathing, and blogging sweaters.  So when I say that I may have added a few sweaters to my collection this year, I don't feel that I need to hang my head in shame. I will say, however, that I am now a lot more judicious in my sweater purchases ("More judicious than buying five mock necks in all different colors? Impossible!").  If something irritates me in the dressing room, it is unlikely that it will make it as far as the register (that is assuming, of course, that I even bothered to try it on before I bought it...which is also something that I am getting better about, thank you very much).

I did slip and "accidentally" click on a lovely sweater from Boden--in three different (but all entirely essential) colors--but I don't think anyone truly expected me to go "cold turkey" on my multiples addiction. The sad thing is that I honestly didn't even make the connection until just's as if buying sweaters in multiples from the Gap, Abercrombie, American Eagle, and the Limited is a crime, but it's absolutely acceptable behavior when one is shopping online or from a British catalogue. I maintain, however, that these crewnecks (in pink, orange, and a charming striped yellow) will never hurt me the way that those acrylic turtlenecks from New York & Company did. I will wear them three days in a row and never tire of that basic and classic crewneck style that Boden seems to favor every year. Uh oh...looks like I've already got fodder for that next sweater blog--coming Winter 2018.

But back to today's selection: a lovely pink cowl neck sweater from Express in a chenille blend that simply begs to be adored.  In fact, I saved it for today because I remembered how cozy and cheerful it made me feel, and that seemed appropriate being that it is so close to Valentine's Day.  If I were an archaeologist, I would put this sweater (and its 4 siblings!) somewhere around 2001. But this is the most attractive in the family--call it the Jeff Bridges, Dennis Quaid, Alec Baldwin, or Matt Dillon of this sweater dynasty.

Don't you wish your sweater was cozy like this?

Will this neck prove to be friend or foe?

Haven't you always wanted a bird's eye view of a cowl neck?

These bell sleeves toll for thee...

Do you remember when early favorite Chris Daughtry got eliminated from American Idol...who could forget that dark day, right? Everyone thought that he'd be the eventual winner and go on to meet the success that later befell household names like Lee DeWyze and Taylor Hicks (yikes...that's the second time I've picked on him here.  Sorry.  I think I did actually vote for him).  Well, that didn't happen...but I guess things turned out okay for the balding rocker (as for other Idol also-rans...well, it's a good thing there are so many celebrity cooking/crafting/cartography reality shows).

I put this sweater into this category...I had nothing but high hopes for today.  In fact, I almost felt a little bit decadent putting this wonderful sweater in, what did I do that was so special to deserve the honor of wearing this beautiful "handknit" (according to the tag, anyway) cowl neck?  

America voted, and this sweater's journey ends here.  To begin with, it was short.  Really short.  Like, Julia Roberts' shirts in My Best Friend's Wedding short.  Also...those sleeves.  Oy, those sleeves.  Not only were the bell-shaped, but they too were abbreviated...but not in a cute, 1960s manner.  When the cowl neck is the least of your problems, you know that times are tough.  Sure, the color is cute and I still like the style, but I only have two hands with which to tug, and they were in perpetual motion.

How could I have been so wrong?  Either my memory is completely off, or something happened to this sweater after its trip to the dry cleaner. My Mom assures me that this fiber content (45% acrylic, 44% polyester, 11% wool) does not allow for shrinkage.  (I'm just curious as to how they determined that it was exactly 44% polyester).  But I'll get 4 more chances with this style...and none of them are in dry cleaning bags (because I really hate to disturb a sweater when it's in that packaging.  Let it sleep, I say).

My rating: C. Thomas Howell. I'll admit it--I loved him.  Deeply.  Out of all of the "hunks" in The Outsiders (and there were many: Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez...need I go on?), I chose him.  And I stuck with him--through good times (Secret Admirer was kind of fun) and bad (Soul Man...actually, I think that's where I lost him). But sometimes your memory of someone is better than the actuality of that person. Were I to go back and watch The Outsiders again, (on my VHS, DVD, or Special Edition DVD), I'm guessing that my affections might switch to another.  While I'd like to honor Johnny's wishes and "Stay gold, Ponyboy," I'm afraid that this sweater just didn't live up to my memory of it, and although I want nothing but the best for Mr. Howell, his affinity for straight-to-DVD shlock horror films (not to mention his cringe-worthy, albeit victorious, performance on the celebrity magic show, Celebracadabra) have further convinced me that gold, like my love for him, is "Nature's hardest hue to hold," (and, yes, I memorized that poem...that's how much I loved him).

Author's note: Since I've, ahem, gotten a little bit behind on my sweaters, I decided to revisit a few of them, and remind myself just what got them eliminated (or reinstated) 'lo those many days (weeks) ago.  I chose to wear this particular sweater today because I did not trust my initial reaction to it back in February.  How could this beautiful pink sweater (that I have actually worn on my birthday because I thought it was so cheerful) cause anything other than pure jubilation? And how was it possible (spoiler alert) that its siblings seemed to fit so nicely, while this one resulted in a case of severe tugging and adjusting?

Well, I don't always trust my initial instincts (as legend has it, I told my Mom that the witch in Snow White was nice because "She gave her an apple."), in this case, I was correct.  The neck is nice when peeking out of a coat, but that's about the extent of the praise for this chenille wonder.  Snow White had a happy ending (even though that Prince was kind of a stiff, if you ask me), but there will be no royalty coming for this sweater.  Back it goes into the donation pile.  The end.

Day 49 -- Raise Your Hands If You're Not Sure

There's chenille and then there's chenille.  I am hoping this is of the latter variety...meaning that it is several steps above the earth toned chenille tunics that are still offered in the plus size section at Walmart (which feel more like pipe cleaners than actual high-grade chenille--if there actually exists such a hierarchy).  Since it was a gift from my Mom (back when chenille ruled the galaxy), I know that this is a high quality sweater (I'm not sure that my Mom even knows that Walmart exists, so we've got that going for us).  I recall that it is fitted (perhaps a euphemism for "tight") and keeps the heat in like nothing else. And, yes, I acknowledge that perhaps chenille isn't the most en vogue of fibers, but I'm hoping that this sweater can rise above any trends and provide me with a day's worth of compliments, or, barring that, at least warmth and a good fit.

Yes, I bought several chenille sweaters from Express
back in the day...fortunately, none of them survived
into this decade (and were there multiples!).
I don't think the flash did this sweater any favors.
It actually looks very classy--just not in macro.

Okay, so now I remember why I don't always gravitate towards this sweater. Despite its deep Gwen-Stefani's-lipstick-red and well-crafted (but chenille) fibers, this v-neck is just a little bit, well, fitted would be the kind word for it.  Not that it's too small, or anything, but it just wasn't the kind of sweater anyone would want to wear if they were trying to reach anything on a high shelf.  Or yawn. Or possibly Jazzercise.

Having said that, I still haven't given up on this one yet.  Even my Mom, the benefactor of this fine specimen of synthetic fibers, told me that she can't imagine that I'll ever wear this sweater, unless, and I quote, "You are just desperate for a cherry red sweater to go under a jacket."  Of course, by "jacket," she is not referring to a ski coat, so I'm pretty sure that this limited set of circumstances will never come to fruition...but, just in case, I'll keep this one around--on a tight leash and a high shelf. Which, by the way, I won't be able to reach while wearing a sweater this short. Maybe I should look into those tunics at Walmart...

My rating: Gerard Butler.  Although he has graced more than his share of men's fitness magazines (which are pretty much only purchased by women, I might add), this buff but roguish Scotsman has made just a few too many clunkers with Mesdames Heigl, Biel, and Swank lately, and is really testing my patience.  No one can deny his good looks, and a good Scottish brogue can make up for a couple of missteps, but his poor judgement in roles lately, coupled with the "fitted" nature of this sweater and the questionable stylishness of this fiber, put him on the "watch" list (and I don't mean his films).  He won my heart in Dear Frankie, and I enjoy the occasional red carpet photos of him in US Magazine, but his off-screen tomcatting (which is considerably better than "TomKatting" I guess) and his sometime lack of personal grooming has left me cold (much like this sweater, when I make any motions with my arms).  Nobody expects Gerard to get back into his 300 shape anytime soon, but is it too much to ask for an engaging and intelligent film that allows for an occasional high-five, fist pump, or, basically, any movement of the arms?

(And while you're at it, Gerard, if you get any script that requires you to be madly in love with Hilary Swank, run. Far away).

This sweater will be on probation until further notice.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 48 -- I'm a Cotton-Sweatered Ninny-Muggins

One of my sweater sisters (or should that be sweata sistas?) once gave me the advice to wear my sweaters according to a seasonal color scheme.  Her reasoning was that certain colors would just feel "wrong" when you wore them out of season, and, more importantly, since you haven't worn all of your sweaters yet, you wouldn't be sick of your wardrobe come February. While I didn't pass that bill into law right away, I did realize that not all of my sweaters looked appropriate for year-round use.

Take, for example, today's lovely crew neck.  I remember wearing this in the fall, and then having an odd craving for those chalky Brach's Conversation Hearts (which, if you haven't seen them lately, have gotten almost too hip for my liking.  Tweet me? No thank you!).  This is clearly a sweater that was made for, if not February, then definitely a month not during the regular season for football.

The tag for this sweater indicates that it is from the Gap, and dates back to 5/2000, which, as I interpret it, means that it is from the 5th quarter of 2000 (or it could be May...but I doubt that they get that specific).  I don't know how long their quarters are, but I'm assuming that this is from their spring line (but, if the 5 stands for autumn, my entire hypothesis will be blown).  Either way, this bad boy is over ten years old, yet (to me anyway) looks just as fresh as it did when I bought it (which, again, was either in May of 2000, some random 5th quarter of 2000, or in 2001 at a Gap Outlet). I chose to wear it on a day in which I'd be fairly active, and thereby appreciative of the 3/4 length sleeves and 100% cotton fiber content. If only the rest of my life could be as organized as my choices of sweaters have been.

What the Cupid's softball team wears for their uniforms...

Color-blocking and stripes?  Don't mind if I do!
For a cotton sweater worn in the heart [sic] of February, I have to admit that this little fella held up more than his end of the bargain. Sure, the 3/4 length sleeves might be a bit of a stretch this time of year, but one certainly can't argue with the color scheme can practically feel the cavities being formed from those overly-sweet (and delicious) Valentine's Day cupcakes. I defy anyone to be in a foul mood while wearing this little candy-colored creation...or was that because I wore this on a Saturday?  No matter...I enjoyed this sweater (and probably paid a whole $29.99 for it) and will most likely see it again when the chocolate snowmen are replaced by their aortic counterparts on the shelves at Walgreen's.

My rating: Will Ferrell. To the general population, the name Will Ferrell evokes laughter and the random Anchorman or Talledega Nights quotation. My relationship with the (mostly) funnyman is a bit more complicated: I enjoy quite a bit of what he does, but really only need to see him in a limited capacity.  Just like that Brach's heart, more than a handful of Will Ferrell's shtick can cause, if not tooth decay, than a severe case of self-indulgence overload. For my $29.99, a little Will Ferrell goes a long way, and I would no sooner wear this sweater in October than would I welcome a Will Ferrell vehicle in which he plays a man-child who realizes that he never learned the Dewey Decimal System and goes back to elementary school to right that wrong (all the while finding love with his third grade teacher, played Elizabeth Banks).  And did I mention that he streaks in that movie (I guess that goes without saying in Mr. Ferrell's movies).

It is, of course, the exception that proves the rule (I have never understood that expression, but it is certainly said enough on sitcoms so I believe it to be true).  The outlier can be described in just four beautiful words: "Santa! I know him." I can forgive Will Ferrell pretty much everything because of the sheer joy that he exudes in his performance as Buddy the Elf. Sure, I could do without those yellow tights (especially on Blu Ray), and Zoey Deschanel hadn't yet perfected her doe-eyed adorkability yet, but for pure Christmas fun, Elf ranks up there with the best.   But wait...where was I?  Oh yes...this sweater, right.  This striped pink confection will bring joy to your (Valentine's) holiday season, but, like the man who brought us Chazz Michael Michaels, Alex Trebek, and, of course, the cheerleader from SNL, it is at its best when used sparingly. And, speaking of confections, if "you see gum on the street, leave it there. It isn't free candy".