The truly terribly horrible sweater … that Grandma knit

For his birthday, little Cameron gets a colourful hand knitted sweater from his grandma.

Have you ever received a present that was made with love especially for you – and you didn’t like it?

When I was a girl, my grandmother gave me huge underpants that were supposed to keep my kidneys warm. With mini skirts en vogue, warm kidneys seemed to be a major worry for my gran. I hated the ‘tents’, as I called them and always hid them at the back of my drawer.

In comparison, the sweater that Cameron gets from his gran doesn’t seem that embarrassing.

But then – I’ve never been a little boy! Cameron doesn’t want to wear the sweater because he thinks all his friends will laugh at him, so he tries his hardest to get rid of the dreaded garment.

He squirts tomato sauce and mustard on it, hides it in a pile of stuff destined for the op shop and even puts it on his dog Scout, hoping he would roll around in the mud with it. But nothing works. The sweater stubbornly comes back to haunt him.

Then one day, Cameron’s grandmother comes for a visit and explains to the boy the thoughts that went through her head when she was knitting the sweater – thoughts of love, happiness and hope. And suddenly, the sweater doesn’t seem so terribly horrible any more.

This is a touching and funny book with simple pictures that are not just illustrations but tell their own story of Cameron and his feelings.

The cover blurb recommends the story for kids between three and seven. But I think it’s best suited to be read to children from the age of four.

The story is told in small episodes: before Cameron’s birthday, on his birthday, all the different ways he tries to get rid of the sweater, and finally his grandma’s visit. Each episode would make a perfect bedtime story, so the book could be read over several days.

As a knitter, I love the story for its subject matter alone, but it gets even better: the back of the book gives instructions on how to learn knitting, as well as the pattern for Cameron’s truly terribly wonderful sweater.

A delightful picture book that serves as a hint for all grandmothers to start looking for their needles.

The truly terribly horrible sweater … that Grandma knit by Debbie Macomber and Mary Lou Carney


I started to write when I was about seven - and only minutes later I started to cook. Since then I've slightly refined techniques and discovered a few more words and ingredients, but not much else has changed: Words and food are my thread through Knossos. I was born in Germany where I lived and worked for more than 35 years. There I trained to be a cook, kindergarten teacher and graphic artist. In the 1980s I lived and worked in England and France. About a decade ago I started my latest stint right here in New Zealand, where I worked as a graphic artist, creator of bags and beanies, caterer, writer, baker and cook.