Sunday, 16 June 2013

It's All About the Men Day

When I was casting about looking for a topic for a special Father's Day post, I soon hit upon the idea of doing a post consisting entirely of men's patterns, only to immediately realize it's the kind of thing I ought to do more often without the impetus of a holiday geared toward men. Which brings me to a matter I ought to address, namely that I know that in writing this blog I am often guilty of speaking past my male readers.

I often write as though I am assuming I'm speaking solely to female knitters, and when it comes to selecting patterns I focus almost entirely on women's apparel. I try to be conscious of it and to improve on using inclusive language, but I keep falling short. I'm not saying I'm aiming for a truly equitable playing field here. The analytics for this Facebook page tell me about 4% of my Facebook page followers are male, and it seems reasonable to assume the male subset of my blog's readers is also 4% of the whole. The reality is that I will wind up catering to the majority of my readers. But even so I need to make sure that my male readers don't feel ignored and unwelcome if I want them to keep coming back. So guys, whether you're a father or not, this post is for you. I've selected 14 menswear patterns from Ravelry for your perusal and possible use, and have written the accompanying commentary based on the assumption you'd be the one wielding the needles and wearing the finished product.

I don't know how included looking at menswear patterns selected by a woman are going to make you feel, but I've done my best to come up with some attractive options. Far be it from me to presume to know what men want, of course. In the past I generally have been successful at making or selecting gifts of clothing my male family members and friends liked and wore (sometimes to rags) when they got them, but then in those cases I knew the men well and had had a chance to learn what their tastes and individual preferences were. I don't know you, and just had to fall back on my lady brain's best judgment. As I scrolled through something like 85 pages of Ravelry pattern thumbnails looking for candidates for this post, my criteria was first, did I like it, and if I did, could I picture a man of my acquaintance wearing it voluntarily and happily? The knitted jock strap and knitted union drawers I found didn't make the cut. Here's hoping you find the patterns that did worth a look.

The Eddard sock pattern offers a bit of a twist on cabled socks — normally the cables aren't this pronounced in men's socks. This pattern is a free download.

The Émilien hoodie is fairly basic, but the simple strip pattern is effective and the excellent workmanship of the design really caught my eye. The whole sweater sits so perfectly on the body. This pattern is available as a $6(USD) download.

The Chicane would be a basic zippered cardigan, but the ribbed cuffs and contrasting horizontal ribbing at the elbows really give it a distinctive touch. This pattern is available as a $7(USD) download.

The Alberta is a basic vest lent some visual interest with the use of variegated yarn stripes. This pattern is available as a $6.50(USD) download.

The Brigade is a classic design with the zippered neck adding a modern touch. You will need a long neck to wear this one as is, although shortening the neck is probably an option. This pattern is available as a $7(USD) download.

I've tried to avoid including sweaters with stripes across the chest in this post because I know they're so ubiquitous in menswear, but I couldn't resist putting the Hacky Sack Hoodie in. Love the colours, and lowering the body stripe to the ribcage did help a bit. This pattern appears in Son of Stitch n' Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men, by Debbie Stoller.

Love the Handsome Scarf, which could be taken in either an old school or more outré direction depending on your choice of colour, as most of these patterns could. This pattern is a free download.

Most knitted ties tend to be less than successful from what I've seen, looking like some skinny, limp sixties-era artifact, but I do like this Bias Knit Tie. It's probably successful because it is bias knit, as fabric ties are cut on the bias. This example is obviously too short, so do be careful to get the right length. It always looks a little Freudian when men wear their ties too short or too long. This pattern is a free download.

If you found the Eddard sock pattern above too bulky for your tastes, you may prefer the Dude sukat design, with its more subtle cables. The ribbing should ensure a good fit. This pattern is a free download.

The Whitfield Jacket really does look like a jacket — that is, like something that you'll tend to wear only outside. I also can't help but notice that it has two chest pockets. My dad much prefers shirts with two pockets, though most shirts are made with one or none. This pattern is an $8(USD) download.

Love the Coal Springs scarf, with its simple yet striking design and which could be worn with just about anything in most male wardrobes. This pattern is a free download.

I very much like the Latvian vest, though I suppose it won't be to every man's taste. I think changing the colourway would go a long way to making this design something you'll want to wear. You can dial it down by making it more subdued or dial it up by making it brighter. This pattern is a free download.

The textured cross pattern on the Ridgeway Pullover keeps an ordinary turtleneck pullover interesting. If you want to give it yet more visual interest, you could do the textured pattern in a second colour. This pattern is a $7(USD) download.

And I can't wrap up a post on menswear without featuring a design by that alpha male of knitwear design, Kaffe Fassett, whom I bet has never in his life been guilty of designing a chest-striped sweater. Here he is modelling his own Stone Circles pullover pattern that I can imagine working on nearly every man I know, depending on the colourway. This pattern is a free download.


  1. I started knitting a Ridgeway pullover for my Dad over a decade ago, but somehow the knitting of the sweater got emotionally bound up with the fact that he was fighting cancer at the time and I was desperately worried about him surviving. So now I have this inescapable feeling that if I ever finish the sweater, he will probably die. So I don't. I tried to repurpose the yarn awhile ago, but even that didn't really take. So I have a PC shopping bag full of Philosopher's Wool that's probably destined never to be anything.

    1. I just wanted to say that I'm sorry to hear about your father. There is nothing harder to face than a loved one fighting a battle that you can do so little to help win. There's no reasoning with the heart and I understand about not completing a project because emotionally it's tied to seeming bad end. I had project like that and I let most of the wool go to others, but kept enough to make a charity item dedicated in the name of my loved one.
      I wish you and your family well. I wish you strength and solace. Take care of yourself.