Tag Archives: knitting

Irish Knitting Superstition


“Irish people culturally believe that when you knit something, you knit a piece of your soul into your project. And so Irish knitters purposely knit one mistake into their project so that their soul can escape. Otherwise you’re breaking off little pieces of yourself every time you give someone something that you knit.

“So I’m like, ‘Oh, I haven’t been giving my soul away to anyone because I always make a mistake or two.’ Still, there’s certainly some pieces that people have that are a tiny little expression of me.”

Once having heard of this belief, GR began to express it as her own. “It actually makes a lot of sense to me because knitting is just such a labor of love,” she said, adding that she could never sell the pieces that she knits. “No price could quantify the work that I’ve done. It’s so deeply personal. When I’m knitting, I feel like I’m tapping into something cosmic.”

She added that part of this feeling comes from the labor of making something entirely by hand. “There’s no machine that can ever replicate it. Using a knitting machine doesn’t feel as personal. It feels like cheating, honestly.”


GR is a 21 year-old college student from Portland, OR, currently living in Los Angeles. Her grandparents were Irish immigrants.

GR knits a lot in her free time, mainly making beanies for herself and her friends.

GR originally read about this belief online, but her Irish roots in addition to her love of knitting made it easy for her to identify with this belief and adopt it as her own.


This belief captures the deeply emotional experience of creating something and gives words to the profound connection an artist feels to their work as an expression of their soul. It also provides a rationalization for any flaws in one’s project, which reduces the pressure on the creator to attain perfection. Such an understanding of the value of mistakes is especially relevant in the art of knitting, a very precise and meticulous craft in which one mistake might make you want to unravel the whole piece until it’s perfect. This belief helps calm the unforgiving pursuit of perfection, which is the enemy of creativity.

This folk belief contains two elements: first, the magical belief that the act of knitting places a piece of one’s soul into their work. This is an example of the law of contagion, in which a non-material bond is established between a person and object. In this belief, the ritual that breaks this bond is the act of knitting a mistake into a piece, allowing the soul to escape. This second element of the belief is an example of conversion magic, a form of performative magic that offsets another magical thing.

The Sweater Curse

Informant Information — SD

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 16
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: San Pedro, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 3, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant’s grandmother was a lifelong knitter and introduced all of her grandchildren to knitting and other handicrafts. The informant regularly attended crafting circles with her grandmother as a child, which is where she learned this belief.


Can you tell me about the curse involving making a sweater?


So my grandma used to believe in a curse where anyone who knitted or crocheted a sweater for the person they were dating would end up breaking up with the person. Since you spend so much time making the sweater, the relationship is usually over by the time you finish it and you break up once you give it to them. She said that you could only make sweaters for family, lifelong friends, or your husband or wife after you were married. 


Did this curse apply to other gifts, or was it strictly sweaters?


It was always just sweaters. You could make other big stuff, like blankets, but sweaters were cursed. My sister crocheted her girlfriend a quilt once and it was fine. 


Do you believe in this curse?


I don’t crochet or knit, so I don’t really believe one way or the other. It makes sense though. 


The informant is my sister, so we grew up hearing the same superstitions from my grandmother. As a crochet and knitting enthusiast, I believe in this curse while my sister, who never enjoyed crocheting or knitting, does not. Making a sweater takes a great deal of time and effort, tying you to the intended recipient. Finishing the project may release you from a sense of obligation, allowing the relationship to end. However, it is interesting that most crafters agree that this curse is limited to sweaters– blankets, rugs, and tapestries are all considered to be “safe,” despite also being large projects. Unfortunately, I seem to have witnessed this curse take effect in real life: my roommate crocheted a sweater for her partner as a two-year anniversary gift and they broke up the same weekend that she finished it.

Knitting Superstition


Informant: If you are knitting or if you know how to knit, you’re allowed to knit things for your friends and your family, but you can’t knit something for your significant other unless you’re really really sure that they’re the one. When you knit something for your significant other it symbolizes that the relationship will end because there is an end to your knitting that ends in tying a knot. So either you have to tie the knot with your significant other or the relationship is very quickly going to end catastrophically.

Context: I asked a group of friends if they could recall any superstitions they were aware. The informant, and avid knitter, shared this one with me.

Thoughts: I find it odd that this same principal of endings doesn’t apply with friends, but makes sense since our society places a greater importance on marriage than friendship.