The $2250 Sweater

This little sweater is worth $2250.00. No really, it is! You see, in an effort to finance the acquisitions of Museum of the Muse (aka experiences at University) I've applied for every scholarship an adult, foreign, archaeology student is eligible for (oh yeah, there are heaps of
them I tell you). Amazingly enough the folks at Jimmy Beans Wool took pity on me - there can be no other logical explanation - and named me Northeast regional winner of the 2012 Beans for Brains Scholarship.

I'm not too proud to admit that I cried when I got the email (I do go all mushy and soft like that occasionally... oh, okay, quite often). I put a lot into this little sweater. Inspired by Carrie Bostick Hoge's Camilla Babe pattern, I choose Quince & Co.'s incredibly soft Lark yarn which is 100% American wool, milled in Maine (purchased from the fabulous Purl Diva). I enthusiastically set out in August of 2011 to complete my first sweater. Plenty of time for the December arrival of it's recipient, the newest family member of a very dear friend. Not two weeks later I injured my shoulder, halting all knitting projects for the rest of the year. Needless to say little Miss A got to wear her sweater only once before she outgrew it. Lucky for me her Mum generously handed it back over just in time for my scholarship submission. I thought it fitting, at the groundbreaking ceremonies (if you will) of this blog, to acknowledge this miracle of knitting (for a miracle it still seems to me) by sharing my essay submission answering the question, "Where do you see yourself in five years and how do you plan to get there?"

Using a pattern it is possible to knit a single, thin string into a strong fabric capable of warming hearts and hands. To appreciate the significance of my future you must understand the challenges I’ve faced, turning the flawed stitches of my past into an intricate design in the fabric of my life. It is easy to look back and see the pattern that was emerging, but not so evident as I was living it. Past events, like the first stitches of a new knitter, were awkward and unpredictable: knit; purl. Abusive, controlling man; psychological breakdown; repeat. Restrictive marriage, financial disaster. Divorce. Abruptly unhindered, I was unprepared to write my own pattern. Devoid of self-confidence, I didn’t yet have the ability to see what I was capable of. Could I continue knitting the fabric of my life without a pattern written by others? 
Seeking an answer, I traveled to England to volunteer with the Sockburn Hall Project, a burgeoning non-profit saving and restoring an historic manor house on grounds that my family owned centuries ago. Perhaps I could find a bit of myself in a place that was part of my family’s past. I found every aspect of the project (the people, the place, the mission) reflected who I already was. And could be proud of. I’ve continued to support the organization from afar, most notably serving as design director for the 2010 Sockburn Publications. An increasing passion for saving historic structures motivated my decision to attend college for Buildings Archaeology. I’ve since felt the fabric of my life growing stronger. 
In five years its developing design will reflect a degree used to practice historic buildings consultation. Exploring derelict buildings, I will discover new life where other people see dust and rubble. I will use specialized and skills to identify elements that can be transformed, making the past relevant to the present. Through these efforts, people will become more invested in their surroundings, knitting stronger communities. I’ll be able to use my training to enhance my volunteer role, adding administrative duties as I accept Sockburn’s current offer to participate in Advisory Board meetings. An elegant texture is beginning to emerge; my contributions to the Sockburn Hall Project shot through like knitted cables. 
While volunteering I’ve worked with like-minded people towards a common goal and learned that who you are isn’t determined solely by your past. I’ve discovered that your value lies in how you spend your time. It lies in the investment you make in the people and places surrounding you. It isn’t the pattern at all – it is the heart and soul you put into your work. I am invested in the Sockburn Hall Project, and my ultimate goal – what I hope to be actively working on in 5 years time – is using my professional experience to help turn what is now the volunteer effort of generous weekend warriors into a self-supporting living history museum. The fabric of my life is unique and quirky, but its colors are my own.

So, funding is falling into place as much as it can when you go from gainful employment to studentship, boxes are being packed, superfluous possessions sold, and plans are progressing. I think the $2250 sweater has well-earned its pride of place as the first exhibit in what is sure to be an eclectic collection of events, don't you?
It's worth how much?!


  1. Aimee, the sweater is a masterpiece in and of itself. But that essay, WOW! That's the real masterpiece, and there is no wonder why the Jimmy Bean Wool bestowed their scholarship on you! Congratulations. Oh, I have just one little suggestion for your essay, and that is to change the spelling of "colors" in the last line to "colours". A touch of foreshadowing :)
    Love, Mom (Marcy)

  2. Hi Aimee, love your essay and your blog too. Good luck with your "knitting" in England. I am proud of you. Aunt Lise

  3. Aimee - What an inspiring, beautiful essay! Thank you for sharing your words and experiences. I am so excited that you will be on your new journey soon. Lynne

    1. Just figured out how to reply to comments! Thank you so much for your kind words, Lynne!