Boys’ knitting roundup #8

Let’s check in on the world of knitting patterns for boys! Some months the well seems pretty dry, but this time we’re spoiled for choice….

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The big news in boys’ knits this month is that Kate Oates, the designer behind the Tot Toppers line, has released an entire book of knitwear for boys, and not surprisingly it’s fabulous. Knits for Boys includes …

29 patterns for sweaters, tops, vests, hoodies, mittens, hats, and more that boys will want to wear sized from 4-12. It also features an incredible reference section on how to knit for kids: choosing colors and styles, sizing, how to make a sweater “grow with” your child, how to find a comfortable fit, and even tutorials on simple additions to any design like hoods and installing zippers.

I have always found Kate’s patterns for boys to be clear, practical, and well-illustrated, and the range of projects in this collection will serve well anyone who knits for boys. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Knitted long johns! How cute and snuggly are these? You may be thinking it would be crazy to knit these, but I can tell you: having seen how much my son wore the knitted pants I made for him a few years ago, I can say that this is a more practical project than you might initially think…

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Most of the designs in the book are sweaters, and my favorite of the bunch is the Twisty Crew. It is worked in a bulky-weight yarn and features some smart, unfussy details on a raglan pullover design, a style that I think always looks especially great on older boys.

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You can purchase an autographed copy directly from Kate via her website, and the book is also available on Amazon—or perhaps you could encourage your LYS to carry it!


My favorite thing about this next new sweater design is that it starts from the assumption that brilliant, hand-dyed color might just be great in a boys’ garment, too—and wow, is it ever.

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The Lennix jacket by Rebecca Newman is incredibly versatile: it includes 14 sizes ranging from 3 months to 12 years; has instructions for sport-, DK- and worsted-weight gauges; can be worked with either a collar or a hood (as shown here); and suits boys and girls both. Now that’s a pattern you can get a lot of use out of!


You can always count on English designer Woolly Wormhead for a great twist on a classic design. Her new Headcase pattern looks great in the self-striping Zauberball yarn. And since this is Woolly, you know there will be some interesting shaping in there to sink your needles into….

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Finally, I love this sweet cowl called Ag Sugradh sa Sneachta by Irish designer Ciara Ní Reachtnín. (OK, all you non-Gaelic speakers: say that ten times fast.) Worked in a fingering-weight yarn, the cowl has puppies running around its circumference.

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DMK Podcast, Episode 26: The Design Process

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-26-the-design-process_39960

As I’ve been spending more time on my own knitting designs lately, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the process that goes into creating a pattern. For me, that process is slightly different each time, so I’ll talk about both how wildly things can vary and about the steps that I always visit when I’m designing. The process is both invigorating (really gets the creative juices flowing!) and challenging (grading for different sizes is HARD).

The technique segment in this episode gives you some tips for joining into the round without twisting your stitches.

Mentioned in this episode:

Who’s ready for a fun hat KAL?

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Yesterday, the yarn company Knit Picks released its 2015 Spring Accessories Collection, and I’m proud to say that I have a hat design (pictured above) in this lovely, 26-pattern book.

The hat is called the Bloccare Cap (direct Knit Picks link / Ravelry link). The name comes from the Italian word for block, since the overall effect is of color blocking.

This is a really fun knit that involves a number of interesting but not complicated techniques. The main body of the hat starts with a provisional cast on and is worked flat and sideways, using short rows to shape the crown. You join the whole thing by using a three-needle bind off and then pick up stitches from the bottom edge to work the ribbed brim.

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Does this look and sound like something you’d like to try? I’m getting quite an enthusiastic response to this pattern on the various social media, so I thought I’d schedule a knit-along (KAL) to begin March 1 (ending April 15).

Why join a KAL? You’ll be able to …

  • show off photos of your hat-in-progress (and admire others’)
  • ask questions if any step of the pattern confuses you
  • get links to tutorials that can help you with any unfamiliar techniques
  • enjoy the camaraderie of other knitters working on the same project you are
  • potentially win a prize if you finish by the closing date and your name is drawn!

What will you need to participate? Gather these things by March 1, and you’ll be ready to go!

  • A copy of the pattern. It’s available as an individual download on the Knit Picks website and on Ravelry, or as part of the 2015 Spring Accessories Collection (available in PDF or print format).
  • Sportweight wool yarn in 5 different colors. The photographed samples use 1 ball in each of five colors of Wool of the Andes Sport. For the largest size, I used about 110 yds of the main color (gray in the sample above); about 70 yds each of the 3 contrast colors that are used in both the hat body and brim (burgundy, blue, and yellow above); and about 50 yds of the last contrast color that is only used in the hat body, not the brim (white above). Knit Picks makes it easy to order kits if you order the pattern from them (and the entire project costs less than $25 including shipping).
  • 16-inch circular needles in US 3 (3.25mm) and US 2 (2.75mm), or the size you need to get a gauge in garter stitch of 21 stitches and 45 rows = 4″/10cm in garter stitch worked flat, blocked.
  • A Ravelry account and membership in the Dark Matter Knits group, both of which are free and fabulous. 🙂

I’ll leave you with a final photo of me wearing my own prototype of the hat. As you can see, there are near-infinite color possibilities. For more variation possibilities, I include instructions on how to make the hat fit more like a traditional beanie instead of as a slouchy hat as shown here. The sizing and styling make it possible to knit this for just about anyone, male or female, child or adult.

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What colors will you choose? Come play with us!

Men’s knitting roundup #9

Many of you in the northern US are blanketed under snow right now, so it’s a good moment to check in on the world of men’s knits. As it happens, most of my favorite recent patterns for men are for your neck, so let’s warm up that throat!


First up is another fantastic shawl pattern by Josh Ryks, called Tailspin. Originally knit with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, this would make a great project for sock yarn scraps, as you only need one full skein of one of the colors. The remaining colors only require anywhere from 50–200 yards each.

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If you are as charmed by Josh’s style as I am, you should also check out his video podcast, Sword of a Knitter.


Speaking of keeping your neck warm, here is an unusual but very wearable style for your next men’s cowl. This is the Neckwarmer Cowl with Toggle by the prolific British designer Ruth Maddock. The toggle can be tightened to snug the cowl up around your neck for extra warmth.

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The original uses an Aran and DK yarn held together, but you could also substitute a bulky yarn.


If you’ve got some handsome buttons burning a whole in your craft drawer, check out the luscious Garfunkel cowl by Polish designer Justyna Lorkowska. This piece requires about 250 yards of a worsted-weight wool. It buttons just at the bottom so that you can wear it either buttoned and scrunched around your neck, or open and spread out to protect any part of your chest not covered by your coat. Very stylish.

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I’ve published a new pattern for men as well! My husband (pictured below) has a very handsome, but often chilly, shaved head, so when Bijou Basin Ranch sent me a skein of their delicious Lhasa Wilderness yarn, I knew just who was getting a hat. Lhasa Wilderness blends yak down and bamboo, giving the fiber an incredible softness and luster that are perfect next to the skin.

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My Aftershave Hat pattern uses a simple textured pattern to show off the drape and luster in the yarn. You’ll need 160–180 yards of a sportweight (depending on which size you make), and any drapey luxury fiber such as alpaca or cashmere would make a fine substitute.

Boys’ knitting roundup #7

In the northern hemisphere at least, we have entered those months when even boys will admit that it’s cold outside. So let’s take a look at some great knitting patterns that have been released recently for boys in the 5–18 age bracket!


I gasped when I saw this next garment: the Gossamer Sweater by Ukrainian designer Natalie Pelykh.

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Worked from the top down seamlessly using the contiguous method, this piece should make for a very enjoyable knit, with just enough texture to make a knitter happy. And I love how rich it looks in a hand-dyed semi-solid. The garment comes in a very wide range of well-gradated sizes (from 12 months to 14 years).


Here’s a fun one for the young fantasist in your life: the Bilby hood by Cristina Ghirlanda.

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For years, my son has wanted a wolf hood to wear when he’s terrorizing the backyard. Even though this is sized for toddlers through 6-year-olds, it’s knit in fingering weight, so I imagine moving up a yarn weight or two would make this piece large enough for larger noggins.


If you’re looking for a stash buster and are knitting for a kid who likes a good ski hat style, check out Cindy Dell’s Yellowstone Hat pattern.

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You can always omit the pompom if Mr. Man is not amenable to such frippery, but I hope for your sake that the recipient is pro-pompom.


Finally, for a quick way to turn boring boots into the Funnest Footwear Ever, check out this great tutorial on the Glamour 4 You blog. With some simple chain stitching, your whole family can have more colorful (and warmer!) boots.

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Men’s knitting roundup #8

In today’s men’s knitting pattern roundup, I am turning two completely blind eyes to the fact that the holidays are coming up, and to the fact that you may (like me) still be knitting gifts. We’re just going to go on blithely as if this were perfectly normal knitting time—OK with everyone? <Hysterical laugh. Head thumps to desk.>


Do you ever have those times where you’ll cry if you have to knit any more stockinette or garter, but you just don’t have the mental bandwidth to handle cables or lace?Eden_Fells_Hat_3

Helen Stewart’s Eden Fells Hat is the perfect pattern for such times. A slouchy beanie worked entirely in knits and purls, this hat will work up quickly in a worsted-weight yarn. But we are not talking about gift knitting, are we? NO, WE ARE NOT.


How about something for the man with a sense of whimsy, that certain joie de vivre that gives him the confidence to go beyond the standard male uniform? For you, there’s the Reptilia Hat by Sara Burch.

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There’s a charming subtlety to this, the way you can’t see the animals—snakes, tortoises, and crocodiles—until you look more closely.


Aw, heck, let’s just go all full whimsy and admire the sheer fun of Sunshine Stewart’s Masked Superhero and Burglar Hats, which are sized from baby to adult for MAXIMUM DAD-KID ADVENTURE TIME.

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And finally—because I’m going to keep saying it until more of you guys start wearing them—damn, I love a man in a shawl.Chale_Entre_Deux_

This lovely piece is the Entre Deux Shawl by Camille Coizy. It’s knit in several colors of Aran weight yarn, so very cozy, no pun intended on the designer’s name.

And yes, I see that she is French. Yes, I know that American men are less adventuresome in their clothing tastes. But COME ON, that guy looks amazing. Think it over.


This post originally appeared on the Dark Matter Knits blog (darkmatterknits.com), © 2014 Elizabeth Green Musselman.

Super-quick Rasta knits

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I had such fun designing and knitting my 30-Round Rasta Hat with Malabrigo’s super-chunky Rasta yarn—and you all have responded so enthusiastically to my quick-knit pattern—that I thought I’d share a few other great designs worked in this chubby, squishy merino.


Ovate by Tori Gurbisz manages to finagle an elegant shawl out of a super-bulky yarn. And it’s now on sale during the Indie Design Gift-A-Long!

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Four skeins of Rasta will yield this piece of cozy loveliness, the Sentiment shawl by Andrea Rangel.

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I adore this new, romantic hat design from Larissa Brown, the Frost Bonnet. The hat is tied to her remarkable time-travel / Viking fantasy novel, Beautiful Wreck.

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If you need a quick pair of mittens, check out Kate Oates’ Warmest Mittens pattern, which includes sizes from toddler through men’s.

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You can find many other options using Ravelry’s advanced search page. Have fun whipping up some quick knits using super-bulky yarns!