Boys’ knitting roundup #6

Let’s check in on what’s happening in the world of boys’ knitting patterns!

Sometimes people hesitate to knit for kids because they’re worried they’ll outgrow the knits even faster than you can make them. When that kind of fear hits, reach for the Beckley pattern, new from Marjorie Dussaud (who has designed a number of snappy boys’ sweaters).


Knit in a bulky-weight yarn, this shawl-collared sweater will work up very quickly. I love how the designer has used simple stitches to fashionable effect here. Even better: in all the photos, the kid looks very comfortable.

If you would like to tackle a garment with a little more texture, designer Lori Versaci again brings the fabulous with her new Open Star Kid pattern.


I love how Lori has used a lace stitch here to rugged effect. Given how hot most little boys’ temperatures run, having a little extra ventilation is an excellent plan.

And finally, if you need a quick accessory to take the chill off the changing seasons, check out Tin Can Knits’ Paddle pattern. One of 14 patterns in their forthcoming Road Trip book, this design exemplifies how well the Tin Can Knits team can take a classic design, modernize it, and offer maximum sizes (in this case, toddler through adult L).



Reviews of Kung Fu Knits have started to come out! My favorite so far appears in episode 53 of the Down Cellar Studio podcast (review begins at 15:15). The host, BostonJen, recorded a hilarious segment with her nieces and nephew in which they beg to hear the story again and to have all the things in the book knitted for them.

Winners of the Kung Fu Knits pre-launch giveaway

Time to draw for the prizes for the Kung Fu Knits pre-launch giveaway! Huge thanks to all of you who participated by posting the gorgeous—and sometimes hilarious—photos of kids wearing your hand-knitted and -crocheted items. (Most of the posts appear in the Dark Matter Knits group on Ravelry; click the link if you want to check out all the smiles and occasional screaming, heh heh.)

From the 92 entries on Ravelry, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, here are our winners!


The grand prize (signed, printed copy of Kung Fu Knits + four skeins of Berroco Vintage to start knitting with) goes to strid8! Congratulations, Astrid, and yes, we’ll totally accept a photograph of your cats in a felted basket since you were away from your home computer. :)

The three digital copies of Kung Fu Knits go to EmilyMarianne, MiaParanoia, and ValSue! I’ll gift you those books right now on Ravelry. EmilyMarianne has the most colorfully and sweetly cocooned baby in the entire world. MiaParanoia put up a gorgeous, studio-quality shot of her little spot in a very beachy outfit. ValSue’s little cherub is wearing a gorgeous Selkie hat designed by Wooly Wormhead.

Ninja project bag of awesomeness!

Ninja project bag of awesomeness!

Wee ninja stitch markers!

Wee ninja stitch markers!

The fabulous ninja project bag goes to dragonracer3, and the equally fabulous set of five ninja stitch markers goes to Angeiship. Angeiship’s photo shows a darling little girl whose head is being consumed by what appears to be a Dead or Alive Fish Hat. Dragonracer3’s little bean has a wonderfully surprised expression to match his yellow smiley face hat.

Congratulations to all the winners. I wish I could have shared a prize with every one of you. If you did win a prize that needs to be mailed (that is, anything besides the digital copies of the book), please email me at darkmatterknits AT gmail DOT com with your full name and address. (Astrid, it may take me a couple of weeks to get you your prize, as the paperback copies are still being printed.)


Knitters’ bounty

I suddenly have WAY too much yarn, and I’m going to use it to help build a well at an elementary school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now you are very confused. Let me explain. (No! There is too much. Let me sum up. —for you Princess Bride fans.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know that a few days ago, a friend contacted me to let me know that unfortunately Yarn Harvest had gone out of business and that one of the owners was willing to give me all of their remaining stock, since he was moving out of town. (I know! I was gobsmacked.)

Yarn Harvest was a great business concept—recovering the yarn from second-hand sweaters and re-selling it—that unfortunately hit the skids when one of its major business partners (the Texas Fiber Mill) also went under. The whole story is, in part, a sad one of domestic fiber industry struggling against cheaper imports from elsewhere.

At any rate, Greg (one of the former owners of Yarn Harvest) very generously gave me all of their remaining stock, which is a LOT of yarn. There’s this …

photo 2

… which is just the fingering weight. And then there’s this …

photo 1

… which is all the rest—lace weight in the front and everything else behind (mostly DK, worsted, and Aran).

I cannot knit with all this yarn—though I will certainly be knitting with some of it. And that’s where the school in the DRC comes in.

My son’s fifth-grade class is raising money to build a well at the Nebobongo Primary School in the DRC (an unfortunately conflict-ridden but beautiful country in central Africa). The elementary school currently has no running water, so the well would improve the quality of the facility in a really important way.


The first 15 people to contact me with a copy of their receipt showing that they donated at least $20 to this great cause (follow the link in the previous paragraph) will each receive a bag of at least three skeins chosen from the yarn shown above.

Please understand a few things before you participate:

  • This is nice wool, but it is not merino, and some of it was not entirely unkinked before it was reskeined to be sold. The best way to picture it is to imagine what a nice vintage sweater feels like, and then imagine having its yarn all skeined up.
  • I’m afraid I can’t spend the time letting people choose what they’ll receive. You’re welcome to express some preferences when you email me, and I’ll try to honor them, but just understand I may not be able to match your preferences. Mainly this is just about supporting a great cause and getting an extra thank you in return.
  • Once the yarn is gone, it’s gone. If you’re the 16th person to email me, I hope you can still feel happy that you helped build a well for some sweet kids, even if no yarn is coming your way. (As soon as I see that I’ve received 15 emails about this, I’ll edit this post to let everyone know the yarn is all spoken for.)

When you get in touch with me, please send me your full mailing address so I can share the wealth right back!

Thanks, everyone…

Men’s knitting roundup #6

Time for our monthly check-in with what’s new in men’s knitting patterns!

You know what makes you want to knit a man a cowl? This guy.


Before he put on this super-bulky alpaca cowl, he wasn’t much to look at. But pop on that great-looking neck accessory and a leather coat, and BAM! This simple-but-effective pattern by Los Angeles LYS Knitculture (hilariously called Man Cowl) is free on Ravelry.


All ye Outlander fans really need to check out Rowan magazine issue 56, which features absolutely stunning Scots-inspired colorwork and cabling, including six sweater patterns for men.

My personal favorite is Craggie by Marie Wallin (shown above). That mashup of stranded knitting and cables is luscious.


For another exciting update on the classic men’s cabled sweater, check out Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby’s Men’s Cabled Knit Sweater. There are a lot of thoughtful details in the construction of this garment—such as instructions for a longer torso and a wider turtleneck—that will ensure a flattering and comfortable fit.


If you enjoy knitting socks, definitely check out the new book Sock Architecture by Lara Neel of Math4Knitters. The book has tons of great information about how to measure for and customize socks to fit any foot—and most of the patterns in the second half of the book would work just as well for men and women, both in terms of sizing and looks.

I’ve already knit the Strie, Toe Up Socks for my husband, and I’ve got my eye on Bootstrap next (pictured above).

Kung Fu Knits book trailer!

Book trailers—that is, videos that give potential readers a peek inside a book—have become all the rage these days. For my first pattern book, I decided to create a book trailer of my own, especially since it helps me to better explain what this funny pattern collection / comic book hybrid is all about. Hope you enjoy watching it!

And while we’re on the subject of how to get a peek inside Kung Fu Knits, I’ve got a tour of some great reviewers lined up for the next couple of months. On the dates listed below, you can find each of these bloggers / podcasters reviewing my book! There are other reviews on the horizon beyond this list, but this will give you a great start in figuring out whether Kung Fu Knits is right for you.

Kung Fu Knits blog/podcast tour

22 September | Mixed Martial Arts & Crafts blog |
24 September | Fibretown podcast |
28 September | Must Stash podcast |
29 September | Through the Back Loops blog |
2 October | Through the Looking Glass blog |
5 October | The Knitgirllls podcast |
10 October | Makewise Designs blog |
15 October | Sunset Cat Designs blog |
17 October | Joeli’s Kitchen podcast |
22 October | Slate Falls Press blog |
3 November | Wattsolak blog |
Available now on Ravelry and Cooperative Press’s website.

DMK Podcast Episode 15: Keeping It Interesting



Sometimes your knitting can just get a little … boring. Maybe you’re not a fan of long stretches of stockinette; maybe you’re knitting for someone who only likes to wear neutrals (no texture, please)—I can’t really fix this problem for you completely, but in today’s episode we’ll talk about some ways that you can make dull knitting more fun for yourself.

For the technique segment at the end, I show how to determine the ply structure of a yarn and discuss why you want to pay attention to it.

Mentioned in this episode:

What I mean when I say Kung Fu Knits is “for boys”

I’ve spent many years trying to figure out what men and boys want in knitwear. Do they want soft? baggy? close-fitting? neutrally colored? what everyone else is wearing? something different?

When I first dreamed up the idea for Kung Fu Knits, my goal was to try a different approach. If boys are reluctant to wear hand-knit garments, maybe we need to think instead about what they DO want, and knit THAT. My son had been studying kung fu for a little more than a year at that point—he’s now nearly a black belt—so that seemed like a great theme to hang this idea on.


As I began to work out the designs—a whole kung-fu outfit! oooooh! nunchuks! throwing stars!—it dawned on me that this wasn’t really just a book for boys. Lots of girls I know would love this stuff, too. Heck, would have loved this stuff as a kid. For that matter, not all boys are into kung-fu fighting. I began to talk about the book as a book of kids’ knits rather than boys’ knits.

And that’s when my lovely tech editor, Joeli, intervened. There are so few knits for boys, she said; why try to hedge your bets? Just call it what it is: it’s a book for boys. The girls who are interested will find it anyway. (Or words to that effect.)

She had a point. I knew I didn’t agree with her entirely, but I’ve been thinking about what she said ever since. She’s right that boys need more patterns, and that the whole ethos of this book is going to appeal to more boys than girls.

But, as I say, there are lot of girls who love this kind of stuff, and I was one of them.


That’s me at age nine, circa 1980, rocking my Dorothy Hamill haircut and my favorite outfit—including my Mork suspenders, which just makes me sad all over again about Robin Williams. (I have no idea what the pin said. And yes, that is a VW van—our neighbors’.)

My point is that this is not the face of a girly girl. All of my friends at this point were boys. I found it so confusing that there were girls in my grade who liked to wear makeup and do cartwheels during recess just to impress boys. Foursquare (the game, not the app) and riding bikes were MUCH more interesting.

You may have noticed from the other photo above that my son doesn’t fall into easy masculine categories either. His hair is even longer now than it was when we did the photo shoot for Kung Fu Knits. And not all of Liam’s tastes run toward smashing and crashing and tearing things up.


Here he is a few weeks ago about to blend up some strawberry mousse, which he learned how to make during a five-hour cooking class while we were in Italy. Because that and a pasta maker were what he wanted for his tenth birthday.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think boys and girls are simple, and I don’t think there are or should be clear boundaries of acceptable behavior or dress for either one. You knit what you want to knit, and you wear what you want to wear. I’m going to call Kung Fu Knits a book of boys’ knits as shorthand, but it’s really a book for any kid who wants adventure.


Kung Fu Knits is now available for preorder at Cooperative Press and on Ravelry. The book will be released on or before September 15 and is available either as a digital download ($9.95) or in paperback ($15.95), which also comes with the digital download.