A Treatise on Sweaters

artwork by frits ahlefeldt at hikingartist.com

 Do you know what my favorite word in the English language is? "Sweater." Yep. Love it. Why? Well, first of all, the word is functional. I mean, look at it: Sweater. The name literally means what it does: it makes one sweat. Especially if one lives in Phoenix or South America or St. George, and one is wearing two or three of them at once. (Which also might make one "O.C.D." Or possibly a "Cat Lady.") American English is mahvelous that way.

British English—well that's something else altogether. I mean, it's a wonderful mode of expression. And generally it charms my socks off with words like: "crisps" instead of chips, "sweets" instead of candy, "nappies" instead of diapers, "trainers" instead of sneakers, and "Jude Law" instead of Adam Sandler. But sweaters? An entirely different matter. In British-English they are called "Jumpers." Which I totally don't get. Functionally, this only makes sense if  Brits have sweaters that are so tight they have to jump around to get their arms and head through them. 

But I massively digress.

"Sweater"–this blog's preferred label for the garment–is also a highly evocative word. When you say it (go on, say it: sweater. ssswwweeeaaattteeerrr) does not your mind instantly fill with images of yore? (Yore past, I mean. Yore memories.) Of such sweatery things as: a brisk wind scratching through black branches, russet apples churned into spicy sauce, mountains with powdered sugar snow sifting onto their peaks, trees limned with sliver frost dropping leaves like so many hankies. And especially those times you forget your wool cardi on the way out the door and a wicked cold nor'easter grabs you by the armpits and you think fondly, wistfully of your beloved sweater. Which you left sitting on your freaking trainers in the pantry next to the crisps, where you were sneaking sweets when you should have been eating something healthy like a courgette.


Sweaters are, plain and simply, cozy. And reminiscent of those times of year we celebrate with lots of family and lots of food and lots of fires in fireplaces. Safe from the howling wind, rain, and snow without. A time when I would imagine their original owners, the little bald sheep shivering in their barns, resent us the most. Because they had them first. (Which, by the way, who in the world figured out that , "Hey! If I cut all this fluffy stuff off this little bleating sheep here, then twist it and pull it a LOT, it will bind together in a thread–after, of course, somehow getting rid of all the lanolin in it and carding it and doing other weavery sheepy stuff like that—Then I can invent a loom upon which to weave it into something! Or stick it on needles, tangle them up, and make something to wear! Dude! Sweaters!")

So really, sheep should be my favorite word in the English language. Thanks for the memories, Sheep! Someone ought to make you a nice horse blanket to keep you warm. 

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. I used to looooove sweaters (and still have a few I can’t part with), but it’s so hot everywhere I go these days, that I end up wearing short sleeves all winter long! It used to be that when it got cold enough, I would go through that tantalizing indecision “Which will be the first sweater of the season? Oh, no Pendleton, you got to do it last year. No, Utah Woolen Mills, you are too warm for November…Oh yes, fluffy pink angora! It’s you!” (yes, I did have a fluffy pink angora, thank you very much) Now it’s “Wonder how high the heat will be in the chapel today…do I dare try a 3/4 sleeve?” By the way, it’s probably me, because most of the other women (including my mom, who is cold in July) are muffled up to their eardrums and rubbing their hands together. I hope there are sweaters in heaven!

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