Tag Archives: laundry

A Tale of Three Sweaters

22 Nov

It’s confession time. My eyes are swimming with the hard truth of this post.

I am a menace with wool sweaters.

The gray sweater is a sweater that fits. The black one is one that used to fit. Before I came along with my shrinking powers.


Just ask my husband, who has a penchant for wool-blends and “line dry only” labels. I think I ruined three of his favorites last year. Actually, I don’t think. I know. I was trying to soften the blow. Why is it that the things we WANT to shrink DON’T and the things we DON’T want to shrink DO?

One of the bummers about cooler weather – in my house-wifely opinion – is the advent of sweater season. I am not good in sweater season. I used to wear them out in the Pacific Northwest, where the damp air makes temperatures feel far worse than they are. But here, in dry-as-a-bone Minnesota (dry in winter, humid in summer) I rarely do. Yes, the temperatures are far worse here, but a sweater just feels too hot. Too restrictive. Like a turtleneck that feels more like a noose.

Signs of the season.


But my husband – bless his heart – has become fond of them in recent years. Last February my niece came to stay with our kids while Colin and I traveled to Europe. Before she left I gave her a pile of my son’s out-grown clothes for her son to grow into. On top was a nice black sweater. Good for Washington. Good for church.

“This was Colin’s,” I said, looking closely at her for her reaction to this news.

“Oh, that’s sweet,” she said. “Are you sure you want me to take it?”

I looked at her; this was not the response I expected. “Yes. It won’t do us any good.”

“But it’s vintage – his own from when he was small….”

“Oh,” I said, shaking my head. “No, you don’t understand. This was his a month ago.”

She did a double-take, holding up the item in question. It was just the right size for her two-year-old son. She looked at me, her eyes questioning my words.

“Yep,” I said, tilting my head to inspect the garment. “You might have to roll up the sleeves. They don’t seem to shrink at quite the same rate.”

More signs of the season.


You might be wondering – and rightly so – why I am so terrible about remembering to remove sweaters before dumping all the clothes in the dryer (and no, I never dry on high, but neither do I have the patience to dry on low). The simple answer is this: I am self-centered, easily distracted, and lazy. I am determining precisely how to kill-off my villain while doing such mundane activities as laundry. I am naming my hero’s sister’s second cousin’s daughter while emptying the dishwasher. I am thinking of all the commitments I made and wondering WHY I agreed to yet another volunteer position while folding the clothes to the point where I don’t even notice that Colin’s sweater is slowly becoming a size 3T.

Hoar frost...a few years back. This is why we need sweaters in Minnesota.


My mother shrank a sweater of mine once. One I got in Edinburgh, Scotland, when I was in high school. I was rather put-out with her. (Told you I was self-centered.) Mom, I apologize officially for my attitude. My husband, on the other hand, when faced with his tiny clothes, proved to be a blessing in an engineer’s disguise. When I shrank his first sweater, he laughed. When I shrank his second one he assured me that it was okay. When I shrank his third one he smiled, said, “It’s no big deal,” and wiped away my tears of remorse. I love that man.

So far, this year, his sweaters are intact. But the season is young. And the potential is not shrinking; it grows with every wash.

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