It’s Sweater Weather Forever – The New York Times

It’s Sweater Weather Forever – The New York Times


It’s always sweater weather for Samuel Barsky.

Oh look! There he is standing in front of the skating rink at Rockefeller Center wearing a sweater adorned with ice skaters. That’s him too at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas with a pyramid on his chest. And last summer he posted a photograph on Instagram in front of Niagara Falls with a sweater depicting (what else?) the famous waterfalls.

Coincidence? No.

For nearly 20 years Mr. Barsky, 43, has been knitting sweaters of familiar landscapes and, in recent years, posting photographs of himself posing in front of them, wearing his matching jumper.

So far, he has created 119 sweaters in all — including scenes of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Twin Towers, Stonehenge and Jerusalem’s Western Wall — which he has chronicled by year on his website.

His craft has afforded him a measure of fame among knitting enthusiasts and followers on Instagram and Facebook who are enamored with his creativity and unusual flair. Last summer he was featured in an ad for Facebook for Creators, an app the social network launched to help creative types build community online. He said he gets paid to travel to knitting stores and talk about technique.

Last year, Isaac Schleifer, a Baltimore city councilman, awarded him a commendation for his work.

“In these times, to show Baltimore in a positive light is a good thing,” Mr. Schleifer said. “He wants to spread the joy of knitting to the world.”

Mr. Barsky, a Baltimore native, said he started knitting in 1999 when he dropped out of nursing school at his local community college. Then, he was shopping at a flea market in Lutherville, Md., where he saw three women selling yarn. He asked if they would teach him how to knit.

“They said yes, if I bought their yarn,” Mr. Barsky recalled.

His first sweater depicted a covered bridge. “I was looking at the clouds in the sky and thought that would make a nice sweater,” he said.

At first he created nature scenes. But then he became taken with famous landmarks. “If I know my plans in advance I’ll knit a sweater and take it there,” he said.

That’s what he did last summer on a trip to Los Angeles, where he posed in front of the Hollywood sign. “I was looking for the right angle when a minibus full of tourists pulled over,” he said. “One of them asked, ‘Are you the knitting guy?’ I said, ‘I have some good news for you. I am about to take a picture with the landmark.’”

After he snapped his photograph, he said he took one with the tourists.

Not all his attempts are as fruitful. Last year, Mr. Barsky and his wife, Deborah, attended the Mid Winter Ball of the Baltimore Folk Music Society. The theme? A take on the popular California raisin craze from the 1980s with music by the “Free Raisins.”

Mr. Barsky knitted a sweater with raisins to wear to the festivities. When he arrived, though, the only raisin-related decoration worth photographing, he said, was an arch with green- and wine-colored balloons.

“I’m waiting to find a statue of a big raisin somewhere to take a picture,” he said.

(Mr. Barsky might have better luck at next year’s Raisin Festival in Selma, Calif. For now, he has no plans to attend.)

Keren Ben-Horin, a fashion curator and editor and contributing author of the 2017 book “The Sweater: A History,” said sweaters in the past have achieved pop cultural relevance, most recently the bold creations worn by Bill Cosby in happier days on his hit 1980s sitcom.

“He’s wearing them as works of art,” Ms. Ben-Horin said of Mr. Barsky’s work.

Mr. Barsky said he knits about one sweater a month and only occasionally does he make something for his wife. “I made her a dress, but she’s not into wearing knitwear,” he said.

He also knits baby hats, which are donated to a hospital.

He doesn’t sell his sweaters, but he is happy to teach others his technique. He gave a workshop at Yarn Matters in Williamsburg, Va., in December after the owner read about him online on a Russian knitting forum. Then, he brought 30 sweaters to show the crowd. He couldn’t name a favorite.

“It’s like trying to pick a favorite child,” he said with a laugh.



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