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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

 

Kung Fu Knits preorders are live!

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So excited to share with you that my knitting pattern collection / comic book Kung Fu Knits just went up for preorders!

The book will be released on September 15, 2014, and is available in two formats:

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The book includes six patterns: a kung fu jacket, pants, and belt, nunchuks, throwing stars, and a backpack to carry cool stuff in. The hilarious comic book storyline will make your kid plead with you to knit ALL THE THINGS!

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Boys’ knitting roundup #5

Time to check in with what’s new and awesome in the world of boys’ knitting patterns!


My jaw dropped when I spotted this sweater from Danish designer Nanna Gudmand-Høyer.

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This design is appropriately named Robotto, and the pattern is available for free in English, Danish, and German (Ravelry link). Sizes are 6–12. The colorwork is so brilliantly designed, and I love the designer’s suggestion to have the wearer help you pick out the colors. For best results, just make sure to choose a set of colors that ranges from pretty dark to very light.


If Robotto looks a little (or a lot) past your current knitting skill set, check out Lori Versaci’s Basic Kid Pattern.

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Sized for 2–14 year olds (there’s also a separate baby pattern), this classic crew neck comes with instructions for either a pullover or cardigan version. Imagine how much use you could get out of this one pattern! The shaping is simple (modified drop shoulders look good on kids but are easy to knit), and I know from firsthand experience how well-written Lori’s patterns are. If you’ve not tried knitting a sweater before, what better way to start than with a smaller canvas!


If it’s still warm where you are (it’ll be 102 degrees here today) or if your kid isn’t so much into sweaters, why not check into some cool new crocheted toys? Megan Kreiner’s new book Bathtime Buddies is a riot of original sea creatures and people (Ravelry link). If you’ve not done any/much crocheting before, these fun and simple animals would make the perfect way to cut your teeth.

How about this sweet-faced otter trying to break open a clam? Or a swarm of jellyfish?

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There are 20 patterns in all (narwhal, manatee, octopus, lobsters deep-sea diver…) that perfectly straddle that line between realism and cuteness. The book even comes with a digital download so you can view it on your tablet or computer.


And let’s not leave out the older guys—for you, I’d point out a new handsome scarf-shaped shawl, Descent into Madness, by Josh Ryks.

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So many knitters love making these sideways shawls—they knit up quickly and you can use up all of that luscious hand-dyed skein—and it’s great to see one modeled here by a young man to make visually clear just how gender-spanning this style of shawl really is.

This looks like a really fun knit, as you can see from this closeup of the varied stitch patterns, knit with two coordinating colors of fingering-weight yarn. The pattern is available either for individual sale or as part of a collection of three geometric shawls.

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Finally, I can’t resist mentioning that I’ve got a six-pattern collection for boys coming out very soon from Cooperative Press—September 15, to be specific. It’s a comic book and pattern collection in one: the comic-book storyline designed to entice your favorite kid into DESPERATELY wanting the hand knits. (Because we all know what a tough sell that can be sometimes.) The book will be available both in PDF-only (for $9.95) and paperback + PDF (for $15.95). I’ll let you know when the preorder page goes up!

Here’s a photo from the book that I haven’t released yet…

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Shown here are the three pieces in the kung fu uniform (gi): the jacket, pants, and belt, all knit in Berroco Vintage. My son, Liam, did the modeling for the book, and he couldn’t have been a better sport. It’s rarely very cold here in Texas, so he got a bit toasty shooting this, but never broke a sweat, as it were. I love his tough-guy expressions in some of these shots, too.

Kung Fu Knits book launch and prize giveaway

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Today I have very exciting news to share with you: on September 15, I’ll be releasing my first-ever knitting book, Kung Fu Knits, published by Cooperative Press.

Read on for more info about the book and how you can win a copy (and other prizes) in my pre-launch giveaway.

The book features six kung-fu-themed patterns for kids’ sizes 4–12 and a comic book story designed to light up your kid’s imagination and make them want ALL THE THINGS. (Honey, I knit for boys. I feel your pain. You have to make them want it, and this book will make them want it.)

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The patterns are:

  • an entire kung-fu uniform (gi): jacket, pants, and belt (shown in photo above)
  • nunchuks (also shown in photo above)
  • throwing stars
  • a backpack to hold all the things

I’ll share more photos and information about how you can get a copy soon. For now, though, I want to tell you about my Kung Fu Knits pre-launch prize giveaway!

From now (August 7) through September 11, 2014, enter to win prizes by posting your favorite photograph of a child wearing one of your knitted or crocheted creations. Doesn’t have to be your child; can be a baby, or even your own child grown up. I just want to see your favorite photo of a kid wearing something you knitted or crocheted.

Post the photo in any of the following ways:

You may post one entry per social media site. (For example, you can post once on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram—you just can’t post twice on Ravelry.) I’ll draw for prizes from all the entries on September 12.

Here’s what you can win:

  • Grand prize: Signed paperback copy of Kung Fu Knits (which also comes with the digital download in your Ravelry library) and four skeins of Berroco Vintage (the yarn used for the patterns)
  • 3 digital/PDF copies of Kung Fu Knits
  • fantastic ninja project bag from Kicks and Giggles
  • equally fantastic ninja stitch markers from Bead Passion

Good luck—let’s see those photos!

Boys’ knitting roundup #4

Time for another roundup of recently published boys’ knitting patterns! This time around, we’re looking for some color to cheer those of you stuck in week bazillion of gray, cold weather. (As I type this, it’s 75 degrees here in Texas. Before you shoot daggers out of your eyes, remember that you can have your own moment of Schadenfreude when we here in TX have had our 40th straight week of 100+ degree temperatures.)

ImageFirst up, a design to keep your eye out for: the Benjamin pullover by Gabrielle Danskknit. The pattern is currently being tested, but will be released next month. Wouldn’t this be a fun use for some leftover bits of colorful worsted yarn? Maybe even some leftover bits of handspun?

ImageThe pattern will come in an impressive range of sizes, from newborn up to 12 years—and the simple, charming quality of the design can easily support that kind of size range. The garment is worked top-down, so there’s very little seaming—just the kind of quick knit you might be looking for as spring hovers around the corner.

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ImageI know that technically this is a knitting roundup, but I couldn’t resist including the great-looking, crocheted Zigzag Spiral hat by A la Sascha. This design also comes in a wide range of sizes, from newborn to adult large, but I can see this appealing particularly to boys aged about 9–18.

This is the kind of hat that just might get your son to pick up the crochet hook himself. I know my three 20-something nephews would all want to make this.

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ImageSome boys are not particularly keen to wear knitted items, but would love to play with something that you knit for them. Polar Pete by Cilla Webb is an absolutely charming (and ridiculously inexpensive) pattern for a knitted bear that has a complete wardrobe of hoodie, overalls, and boots. He even has his own fishing pole and fish to catch! The shaping of the face, body, and clothing have some really nice attention to detail.

This would be an ideal gift for a younger boy (say, around 4–7 years old), but I’m pretty sure my nine-year-old would also covet this hard.

Boys’ knitting roundup #2

What’s new in the world of knitting for school-aged boys? Here are some of my picks from what’s come out in the month since we last did a roundup….

Now that fall is creeping up on the northern hemisphere, a little sweater knitting might be just the ticket. Check out this handsome, easy-to-wear pullover from Julia Stanfield:

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Isn’t that one natty little dude? He is modeling Sullivan Street, available as an individual download for $6 on Ravelry. The sweater is sized to fit anyone from 6 months to 12 years, and also looks great on girls. Knowing how well-written Julia’s patterns are, this would be an excellent first project for someone who is knew to sweater knitting.

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I also adore this new sweater from Terri Kruse called Little Spare Time. Terri is running a knitalong that starts September 16, and in advance of that date is offering an excellent sale on the pattern. Sizing goes from 12 month to 10 years.

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Isn’t that a fabulous neckline? If you’ve got a kid who hates the feel of a tight neck going over their giant melon, then this is the perfect sweater for you. I’m thinking about knitting this for my own son, since this would look great over a collared shirt, which he has to wear to school every day.

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If you’re knitting for a teenaged boy, Kirsten Hipsky’s new Woodstove Pullover might be just the ticket. It’s knit in an inexpensive, super-bulky yarn — you can make the smallest size for less than $50.

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And finally, if your child is a fan of the minions in Despicable Me, you’ll want to check out this free crocheted hat pattern posted on Craftster. Quick, go do it before Universal Studios sends this woman a cease-and-desist letter.

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Boys’ knitting pattern roundup #1

As someone who enjoys designing knits for men and boys, I’m beginning to do regular roundups of patterns for the guys. Here’s my first roundup for men, if you missed it.

Today, we’re going to see what’s available for the younger dudes. In the roundups for boys, I’m going to focus on patterns for school-aged kids (around sizes 6-14). It’s not that I don’t love your chubby thighs, baby boys, but you get more than your fair share of attention in the knitting pattern arena. It’s the older boys that have slimmer pickings, so these roundups are for you — and the lovely people who knit for you.

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First up this month: a gorgeous colorwork sweater in sizes 3-10 from Rowan designer Marie Wallin. Called Eton Mess, this pullover design makes brilliant use of color. (Just because a kid is done wearing dinosaur and truck sweaters doesn’t mean he’s done with color.) The pattern appears in “Little Star,” new Rowan booklet of 20 kids’ designs — about one-third of which will work for boys.

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What about even older boys? Teenaged boys unfortunately have the fewest options when it comes to garment knitting patterns, but the steady trickle has recently brought us this great-looking cardigan, called Bloch Ness, by Anne Hanson of Knitspot.

Anne has a wonderful talent for taking classic shapes and updating them just perfectly. I love how the shawl collar rests snugly against the shoulders and chest, and how the oversized fit still fits well around a narrow waist and hips — all great details for a guy who’s eating half the refrigerator and growing 3″ every night.

The pattern has a very expansive range of sizes from 34.25-62.75″ finished chest. Designed to fit with 4-6″ of positive ease, this will easily fit most guys aged 12 and up.
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Looking for a quicker fix? I just released the Cattywampus Hat pattern, which is sized to fit anyone from babies to adults. (If the boy in question is enormous-of-noggin like mine is, the largest size will fit.)

The great thing about knitting this hat for boys is that you can start with a very sedately colored yarn (like this lovely, subtle worsted from Hiwassee Creek Dyeworks), and finish with a classic, wearable hat — but in between, while you’re knitting, you have the fun of working an unusual-but-simple short-row construction. Try adding a stripe of a different-colored yarn in there, and it will swirl surf-like around and up the hat.
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And finally, don’t forget Katya Frankel’s entire book of boys’ sweater patterns (for sizes 4-14)! It’s an oasis in the desert.