Men’s knitting roundup #10

It’s been several months since we peeked into the latest men’s knitwear designs. Let’s go exploring…. Today we’re all about color.


Looking for new men’s designs can sometimes be an exercise in despair—frankly, most of what I see is either awfully frumpy or is really designed for women and has been questionably tagged for men. (Mind you, I have pretty wide-ranging beliefs about what looks great on men, but even my liberal limits are frequently tested by overzealous tagging.)

And then, like a bolt out of the blue, you come across something like this…

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PINCH ME but that is luscious. This is Wester Ross by Welsh designer Jane Howorth and knit, of course, out of Noro Kureyon. Pictured here on a teenager, the sizing ranges from 34.5–53.5 inch chest. I absolutely love the way the cabling and knit-and-purl texture plays with the striping effect of the yarn, the way the saddle shoulder cleverly travels across the top back (see below), the extra-long ribbing and thumb holes at the cuffs, and the impeccable shaping (no slouchiness!).

Jane has designed some other gorgeous men’s sweaters that you should also take a gander at; I will definitely be keeping an eye on her from now on.

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Bristol Ivy’s Quoin cowl is worked in three colors of worsted-weight wool—potentially yarn you already have in your stash. I love how she has combined asymmetrical striping and deep chevrons into a simple-to-knit but bold design. It’s like a Color Affection Shawl for your neck … with a lot less knitting.


Looking for a more ambitious knit to occupy the long summer days? I love this Mayan Ouroboros scarf pattern from Tania Richter. The instructions can be purchased individually or as part of an eight-pattern e-book called Fantasy Art Knits—all double-knit scarves with fantasy creatures fabulously charted out (in both senses of the word fabulous!). Five patterns have been released so far, including a Nine-Tailed Kitsune that is screaming my name.

Been caught stealin’, once when I was 5 **

We here at Dark Matter Knits design studios like to encourage delinquency in our youngest members of society, and so I have created the Better Pocket Scarf, just right for tucking sticky, sticky candy into.

This is all part of my campaign to come up with better knits for boys. The idea is simple: if we start from what they want — instead of what we want them to want — and figure out how to knit that, maybe they’ll actually use what we knit for them.

And what my son wants is POCKETS. Big, deep pockets on every piece of clothing. Pockets into which he can cram all manner of things and then promptly forget about them so that in the washing machine several days later they turn the family laundry into an ink-stained, gum-fused monstrosity. Pockets that can withstand 80 interesting rocks from a hike, an uncapped pen, a half-chewed piece of fruit leather, a gnawing reptile of some sort, and a small explosive device.

If this is the tall order, knitted fabric does not seem to be the ideal metier, but we are knitters, by gum, and we can make ANYTHING WITH YARN. With, in this case, a little bit of plastic thrown in for good measure. So this scarf’s pockets each have hidden inside a plastic CD sleeve so that no matter what gets tucked into those pockets, the yarn blissfully goes on thinking it is being worn by a middle-aged shut-in with manicured nails.

Oh, and also, the scarf has cool shaping (the pockets are knit like hats so that you can knit all the lovely color work in the round) and a fun color scheme courtesy of the affordable Berroco Vintage.

the obligatory Twilight reference

The scarf appears in the just-released Winter 2012 issue of Petite Purls, which is a beautifully produced online magazine of free knitting, crochet, and sewing patterns for children. This issue focuses on accessories, and — I’m warning you — you just might collapse from how sweet they are. I’m especially partial to Alison Stewart-Guinee’s mittens made to look like the Fantastic Mr. Fox. And I want to bottle her kid’s geeky cuteness.

All right, now, get back to work! I’ve got to go get my teeth cleaned, which is so much more fun than anything else I could be doing right now.

** Bonus points to you if you know the song from the title. (It’s one of my favorites — one of the best song bridges ever — though the video creeps me out.)

New hat pattern! or, another way to cable without a cable needle

There are some great tutorials out there about how to make knitted cables without using a cable needle. The hat above represents a completely different way of thinking beyond the cable needle: use colorwork to create a faux cable. The next photo shows the effect even more clearly:

See how the sage green sections look like cables crossing over each other? I think it would be lovely on socks, too. If you have Luise Roberts’ wonderful little colorwork stitch dictionary called 1000 Great Knitting Motifs, you will find this stitch pattern on p. 105.

I just made this hat pattern available on Ravelry, and it will soon be up on the KnitPicks web site as well. It’s a quick knit, so if you’re looking for something last-minute for the holidays, this might just be the ticket.

On an unrelated note, I would just like to note that we here in the Land of the Large Eyebrows do not believe in trimming our eyebrow hair. No, we do not.

Color palette generators

Oh boy, has the beginning of the school year kicked my butt with a vengeance. My first-year seminar began last Monday; regular classes began today; and I just taught my first knitting class at the Knitting Nest. Then I have at least five patterns to write between now and mid-October. Not to mention my two classes at Fiber College in a couple of weeks….

All of those knitting classes are new classes, by the way. Classes that I have never taught before and that therefore need planning.

Ha ha. Ha hahahahahahaha.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…. KABLOOEY! (Splat.)

That was the sound of my brain exploding approximately two minutes from now. Could somebody please grab a mop?

But enough about my organ failure. Let’s get back to design tips and tools!

The tool that I’m going to discuss today, I found a couple of years ago. And then promptly forgot about it until just recently. I’m talking about color palette generators. These are free programs online that will take one of your favorite photographs (which you either upload or link to its web address) and generate a palette of colors from it. In other words, it pulls colors out of the photograph, spreads them out in distinct color swatches, and sometimes even gives you the Pantone number for it.

As an example, here is a photo that I took in March of some crocuses peeking out of the North Carolina woods, along with the palette the site generated:

There are many uses for this device, but among them is designing color work for knitting. Many people complain that they have trouble putting together different colored yarns for color work such as fair isle. This helps you out of the jam. You know you like this photograph. Now you can distill some of what works about this photograph to a palette that you can then use in a sweater or other garment.

Now go play!