November 14th, 2011
This is a guest post from Johnny Vasquez, knitwear designer and founder of Craftory Media which produces fiber related web shows like newstitchaday.com, fiberstory.tv, and yarntripper.com. You can find all of his work at johnnyvasquez.me. He lives in Loveland, CO with his wife, Lacie Lynnae. For a free men’s hat pattern designed by Johnny, click here.
There is one major challenge women face when knitting something for the opposite sex; they aren’t men. And that’s okay. The problem is many of us guys have difficulty expressing what exactly it is that we like when it comes to clothing. Recently my knitwear designer friend decided she wanted to make her husband a cardigan. When she asked him what he liked about his favorite sweater his response was, “I don’t know. It fits.” So in an effort bridge the communication gap, here are 5 tips for knitting for men, from me (a guy), to you (probably not a guy). Disclaimer: These are not hard and fast rules. They are just the opinion of a male knitter. I have my own taste and preferences when it comes to color and design. These are only guidelines.
1. Keep it simple. There is a reason that most department stores have an entire floor devoted to women’s clothing and only a small section for men. We don’t need as many options. Fashions for men haven’t changed much since World War II. Simple garments may not be as challenging to knit, but they will probably be worn more often. Here are a couple great examples of simple classic pieces. Click each image for the pattern.
2. Men love dark colors. I like a little pop of color here and there, but black, grey, brown, and dark blue are the foundation of my wardrobe. I’ve encountered many ladies who dislike knitting with black, and you don’t often see patterns shown in that color, mostly because it doesn’t photograph well. But think how great sailors look in pea coats or Danny Zuko looks in a black leather jacket.
If you want to knit with more than just black, try heathered colors like Claret or Charcoal in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Earth tones like those in Fishermen’s Wool are great options, as is a green like Olive in Vanna’s Choice.
3. Variegated should be avoided. So should sparkle, halo, and art yarn. There are two exceptions to this: A dark monochromatic variegation, when used for accessories, and socks. We guys do like to express our personality through things most people can’t see, such as socks.
Try one of these simple sock patterns in Lemon Drop or Red Hots:
By the way, there are no exceptions for sparkle.
4. A little pattern goes a long way. Simple stripe or argyle patterns are a great way to incorporate color into otherwise simple sweaters, scarves, or socks. Cables are a great accent on sleeves or even one or two on the front of a garment. For example, the limited use of cables on the Northshore Cardigan adds interest to the piece without being overwhelming.
5. When in doubt, ask. I said earlier that men tend to have trouble expressing why they like something. This does not mean they will be unable to guide you in the right direction. The key is to give them choices. Have them look through patterns with you to see if anything strikes their fancy. Show them a few different colors swatches so they can see what they might look like knitted up. Try on some sweaters at the department store to see how things fit best. By including him in the entire process, he’s not only more likely to love the finished product, he’ll have a better appreciation of how much work goes into it. Who knows, he might even want to learn how to do it himself!