The Forgotten knitted sweaters

Sweaters as we call it, are one of the most reliable companions sharing warmth in the winters. Only a few of us might not have worn hand knitted sweaters in the winter. The hand knitted sweaters are crocheted simultaneously in minute sections with varieties of yarn. Decades ago, the hand knitted sweaters made by the housewives working daily with the crochets in smaller sections, to give it a firm look, were preferred by many people. Those sweaters were used by people from streets to offices.

Even two decades back, people didn’t have the option to wear the down jackets or fleece jackets as they have now. So, hand knitted sweaters were preferably the only option they had to adapt to. The hand knitted sweaters were the assets of almost every household and wardrobe. The wives of labourers and sailors in the small islands of British Empire during the medieval times of 18th century used to knit sweaters for their husbands and eventually this innovative yarn or let’s say jersey was named as sweaters and it was used in Europe and America to resist the cold. Although knitted wools have been used since 3000 B.C. and before, I would precisely like to focus on sweaters. The sweaters, hand warmers and beanies were knitted in home with love that resisted cold and shared warmth each winter.

Back in 1889, the sailors assimilated sweaters as informal but casual wear. Keep in mind, whether it’s a village or a city, be it among the rich or the poor, sweater has been the most trustworthy companion among Nepalese that has helped cover the shame while being functional and comparatively versatile among the other wears.
We can see sweaters in the informal photos of kings and the preserved photos of popular leaders in Nepal. The process of selecting a perfect yarn, buying it and using a crochet to weave it into a beautiful sweater used to take at least 15 days.

From dusk till dawn, the housewives used to knit warmth in sweaters.
We can find love being connected to knitting, sweaters and crochets in many songs.  I’d like to present an excerpt of a poetry from the famous author and songwriter Gulzar which goes as follows:
Oh dear knitter,
How firmly you knit those fibres into a fine cloth!
Can you teach me to weave these yarns into a firm cloth as gracefully as you?
It’s not that I didn’t try weaving relationship ever
But amidst the mathematics of knitting,
I pathetically failed
Oh dear knitter,
Can you teach me to weave these yarns into a firm cloth as gracefully as you?

Similarly, there’s a pop song in Nepali which was released about one and half years ago that sings:
शिरको टोपी शिरैमा
ढल्की हिड्ने पीरैमा

झ्यालको पर्दा खोलन
स्वीटर बुन्न बसन
This song has established a beautiful history between sweater and the curtains.
The hands that knitted the sweaters once are most probably tired now and the crochets? The crochets are most likely to be found resting somewhere in the corners.
The availability of factory produced jackets might have occupied the marketplace of hand knitted sweaters but the youths who wore them still cherish the beautiful memories.
From the sisters who earn their living by knitting sweaters to the lovers who gift it to each other, the variety of sweater ranges from v-neck to round-neck to quarter length as well as full sweaters.
The art of knitting sweaters was a mandatory skill back then which can still be seen in the wardrobe of many households.
Yes, hand knitted clothes and sweaters can still be found in many stores. But, the warmth that personally customized sweaters held cannot be compared.
People used to personally visit the knitters to know about the progress to their customized sweaters.
They would get the updates to their customized sweaters while visiting the knitters. Slowly, people didn’t have time and when the human resource started being more occupational, crotchets disappeared within the yarns. The jackets today helps resist the cold but sweaters used to carry warmth and love. Perhaps, the quality of the sweater was a matter of pride for many Nepali husbands during those days.
How many hearts would have shattered with the torn sweaters? Sweater was not just a piece of cloth; it was a souvenir of memories. On each separation, they might have cried remembering all the memories of love the sweater would bring back.
Those sweaters held winter civilization, independence and national pride. Winter knitting shall be missed forever.


 Written by Suyog Dhakal
Translated by brigid shrestha

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