Left: Howard Russell Butler, <em>Yellow Sweater</em>, before 1934. Right: Dave Wheeler, "Fairisle Jumpers," licensed cc-by-sa.


September 10, 2014 in

It's sweater weather, y'all.

Download song for free all month on SoundCloud.

First off, a reflection on hugging

In my family a hug was never an over-and-done-with thing. It’s always been more of a positioning option — a different way of standing. Like when small me hugged my dad we’d just sort of stay like that for a bit, reveling in the nicety. As kids in the ’90s my sisters and I would spend quiet afternoons lazing about on various couches and chairs, leaning on each other, our various limbs all tangled up and happy.

As I grew up, this theology of closeness slipped itself into my way of life.

I still love hugs. Because I know that it’s not everyone’s thing, I have a running list in my head of those who do embrace (har har) the concept. So in any given situation for the most part, I know which of my friends will let me slip my arms around them and hold on for a moment or two, who will let me sit comfortably close to them on couches, who won’t mind if I tuck my arm in theirs, who won’t flinch if our legs are touching beneath a table.

To get philosophical for a moment: The human touch is extraordinary.

In this age of cynicism and mechanical solutions to human problems, the touch of a hand can heal us. The closeness of another person can grant us sanctuary for a time, before we each return to our separate existences and find our way in the world again.

The song

And SO we come to “Sweater,” the bouncy song that sounds rather suggestive but is more about hugs than anything.

You know that feeling when you see a kitten and can’t handle that you’re not holding it? That’s how I feel about people in nice, soft sweaters. I can’t handle that I am not hugging them. And nicely made sweaters that fit properly make everyone look just a bit kinder, I think.

There were also two specific things I was thinking about when I wrote this:

  1. My college suite-mates Meg and Jacquie, who were masters of the irresistibly soft fleece pullover.
  2. Our friend who always wore baggy, slubby sweaters, except one time when we convinced him to try one that fit right and it was a Laney-Boggs-walking-down-the-stairs moment. (Yes that was a She’s All That reference, deal with it.)

This song was supposed to be on Sudden Amaryllis, but it ended up a bit jauntier than made sense for that album. So it got a release all to itself, to let loose the wah-wah pedal and the bouncy drums and words like “sugarplum” and “curve of your collarbone” and “50/50 wool/acrylic blend.” Mmmmm. Sweaters.


You have no idea what these two arms are capable of,
and you don’t seem to mind standing so far away from me,
but why miss the chance to have our hearts almost physically touching?
Why waste any more time? Get over here, get OVER here.

Whenever you wear that sweater, I can’t keep my hands off your shoulders — I want my arms around your waist.
Whenever you wear that sweater, I need underneath my fingers the touch of your skin.

Oh sugarplum, you look awfully lonely on that couch:
care to partake in something mutually beneficial?
My little body likes the thought of the rise and fall of your breath.
I’d like you (and your pullover) over here.

I don’t know if it’s the cut or the color,
or the angle of the neckline,
or the 50/50 wool/acrylic blend.
Maybe it’s the shape of your arms, the curve of your collarbone,
the way your body looks in tight shirts?

Top image credits Left: Howard Russell Butler, Yellow Sweater, before 1934. Right: Dave Wheeler, “Fairisle Jumpers,” licensed cc-by-sa.


  1. Rachel Rasley on September 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I love this so much! Your hugs are the best. I am craving one now.
    P.S. I laughed out loud at the Laney Boggs reference!

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