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Tree Sweater

Just want the pattern? Get it here!

Remember how I said that once I’d had the idea to make a company logo dog sweater, I couldn’t NOT do it? I had another one of those tonight.

Outside our building is a sorry little sidewalk tree. At the height of summer, it had about five leaves. A dead glowstick has been dangling from its branches for three months.

Tonight while I was out on a smoke break, I looked at the tree and thought, “Man, that is one sad tree. It looks cold and wet and pathetic. It needs a sweater!”

I went home and whipped one up, it only took an hour and a half to knit. Then another fifteen minutes or so, standing outside in the cold at half past midnight, stitching it up.

If you would like to make your own little tree sweater, here’s my pattern!

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Update: February 19, 2006

The treesweater is looking a little worse for wear, but it’s still hanging in there! The branch that was its “arm” has been broken off and the seams are looking a little ragged – presumably from the attempts of stupid/drunk people to pull it off. (Hello?)

Update to the update: I hadn’t looked closely at the branch until today (3/23/06). The branch has actually been cut by some sort of gardener person. I love this!

It was someone’s job to go out there and prune the branch, and the sweater was obviously in the way. That person had a choice: cut the sweater, or leave it be. They looked at the sweater, then very carefully cut the branch so that about an inch protrudes from the arm of the sweater, thus leaving the visual integrity (the “sweaterness,” if you will) intact.

Big hugs to the landscaper who did this!

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Update: March 23, 2006

My treesweater made the cover of this week’s issue of The Stranger, a free alternative newspaper published weekly here in Seattle.

Also, a shout-out on The Stranger’s blog.

Huuuuge props to my roommate/coworker Raleigh, for discovering the news!

Raleigh was standing out on our balcony at work having a smoke when he noticed a guy walking down the sidewalk stop short at the treesweater. The pedestrian gaped in surprise, then hold up his copy of The Stranger to the tree, confirming it was the same treesweater.

Is it possible to die from being thrilled? I will let you know.

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Update: March 28, 2006

I have received so many wonderful comments and emails about the treesweater – it’s quite overwhelming!

First of all, I want to say that I strongly encourage you to make your own treesweater. I’ve posted the revised pattern over there on the side bar. Trees come in so many different sizes and shapes that I expect you will have to modify the pattern considerably, in order to get it to fit your own tree. If it helps you to visualize what you’ll need to knit, you may want to start by making a mock-up in paper, and practice taping it onto the tree.

If you do make a treesweater, please send me pictures! You can email me directly by putting “blog” to the left of the at symbol, and “fisherking.org” to the right of it. Please do not send me spam. I assure you, I have no desire for pills which claim to either reduce or enlarge various areas of my body.

I have been mulling over the idea of sweatering trees all up and down Eastlake, although the task is rather daunting. Perhaps other Seattle knitters and treesweater enthusiasts would be interested in a mass treesweatering event? Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. I’m just saying.

Those of you who have been mocked for making your own tree couture, be strong. Some people just don’t get it. Pity them, for they lack whimsy, and are forever doomed to lead lives of unspeakable dullness

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Update: April 09, 2006

A friend tipped me off to the fact that I’ve been Metafiltered!

I have been reading Metafilter ever since it got slashdotted back in, what was that, 1999? Unfortunately, I have long since forgotten my password, and the email address on my Metafilter profile is no longer correct. (I spend more time at Monkeyfilter anyway, no insult meant to the Metafilterites.)

Anyway, I was only trying to log in so that I could gush about how unbelievably famous I felt, being linked on Metafilter and all, so it’s probably not worth the trouble.

I also wanted to respond that everyone on the thread is right – the treesweater is meant to be cute, funny, and also a little bit sad. And that it is indeed the same tree – between the time when my first pics were taken, and the time that a photographer snapped his Stranger cover pic, a gardener trimmed the “arm.”

Rock on, Mefi!

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Update: April 18, 2006

The sun finally emerged today. Since it was a slow afternoon at work, I thought it would be a good time to get some snaps of the treesweater, and address some of the more common questions that I’ve gotten.

This is a top-down view; as you can see, it is quite loose. It has about three inches of ease (which is pretty significant, in a sweater that’s only nine inches around), so fear not – it does not bind or chafe the bark in any way.

To everyone who asked “How’d she get that on there?” – a view from the back. It’s pretty obvious if you see it in person, despite my Ninja Seaming Skills! (The seams have become more prominent over the months – they used to be almost invisible, I swear!)

A view from the front, same angle as the photo on the cover of the Stranger. Here you can see what I mean by “It’s gotten a little bedraggled lately.”

Several people have commented that the treesweater will cause damage to the tree by trapping moisture. (I have to ask – what kinds of sweaters have you folks been wearing? Neoprene?) I suppose that theoretically this is true, but the treesweater has good exposure to sun and wind, and dries off quickly.

I was curious to see if this was the case, though, so I tugged the sweater down off the arm and carefully inspected the bark. I guess I was afraid that there would be a sweater-shaped black mass of goo, and then I would feel awful about the whole thing, and have to spend my lunch hour out there scrubbing the tree with a toothbrush, or something. But as you can see, after four months of treesweater wear, you can’t even tell where it was. (That white goober is the remains of a spider’s egg sack, yuck!)

Hypothetically the treesweater, if left there long enough, could inhibit the growth of the tree, or constrict it somehow. But as you can see, there’s plenty of room for growth. Extra-plenty, if you take into account that this tree isn’t growing, like, at all. (I love this tree, but arboreally-speaking, it’s kind of a loser.)

The compulsive part of me would really like to knit a replacement treesweater. It’s looking a little worse for the wear, and also it is feeelthy. (I had to run inside and wash my hands after handling it for these pictures.) But it seems like a replacement sweater just wouldn’t be as iconic as the original. I’m still on the fence about that.

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Update: April 23, 2006

Late-breaking treesweater update – the treesweater is missing. Treesweaternapped!

Is it the work of anti-treesweater activists? A treesweater fan who just couldn’t help themselves? Or just some random, meth-addled hobo? Unknown.

Well, I know what I’ll be knitting tonight…

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Update: April 25, 2006

Treesweater the Second:

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Update: May 1, 2006

The lovely and talented Meieli Sawyer Detoni has written up an article on the treesweater, which has been published in New Zealand’s fashion culture magazine, Thread. Go read it!

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Update: May 24th, 2006

Philbert made a denim miniskirt for the Treesweater tree! Too funny!

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Update: June 21st, 2006

Everyone has a MySpace page, now Treesweater does, too!

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Update: June 26th, 2006

Someone gave the Treesweater a flower!

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Update: November 9th, 2006

Well, the second treesweater was a real trooper. It has braved the elements since April, but the latest bout of weather has taken its toll. Clearly, it was time for a replacement, which I’ve just sewn on.

Bit dark out there for photography, but here’s a shot of the old one.

There are a few holes, as you can see. It was essentially being held together with filth. (Eurgh!) I shall have to remember to replace the third sweater more promptly.

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Update: November 25th, 2006

Treesweater got a shout-out on Cast On, Brenda Dayne’s superb knitting podcast! Which reminds me, I need to get a picture of the most recent sweater, eh? Someone has left a little plastic antler for Treesweater, which is delightfully Grinch’s-basset-hound. Pictures next week, I promise!

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Update: January 22, 2007

Hooray, I made Kerrang Radio’s Ugly Phil Breakfast Show podcast! This means that you can listen to my interview if you like, for about the next 24 hours until its taken offline. (Their podcasts expire rather quickly, I notice.)

Click here to listen while you can! My interview appears at about the 4:30 mark.

For dads and other people having problems listening to the interview:

1. If you get an error when you click that link in your browser, click here to download and install Quicktime first.

2. If you already have iTunes installed, you can locate it by searching their podcasts directory for “Ugly Phil”. Download the 1/22 episode.

3. If that still doesn’t work, let me know and I can probably hook you up.