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.

DSC_1079

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.

IMG_2456_medium


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.

Kung Fu Knits book launch and prize giveaway

KungFuKnits_frontcover_draft

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.)

IMG_7555_sm

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.

_______________________

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.

_____________________________

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.

Men’s knitting roundup #4

Since the holidays are rapidly approaching, today’s men’s knitting pattern roundup will focus on accessories – that is, quick gifts that can still be accomplished between now and possibly even Hannukah, though that comes quite early this year!

ImageFirst up: some beautifully designed socks by Jennifer Beever, a relatively new designer based in Calgary. The pattern, called Josh, has some fine features, including a false rib pattern down the back of the leg that merges seamlessly into the heel flap. It’s a great, classic sock that even men with the most conservative clothing tastes could appreciate. Josh can be yours for $5 Canadian on Ravelry (that’s just a little less than $5 US).

Jennifer also recently published a pair of garter-stitch mittens that would be perfect for men living in cold climates.

_____________

Image

ImageThis next duo of patterns, the Tolt Hat and Mitts by Andrea Rangel (available together for $8 on Ravelry), would make a perfect gift set and would appeal particularly to younger men, I suspect. If you are new to stranded colorwork, this would make a great pattern to cut your teeth on, as the stitch pattern is fairly simple, quick, and satisfying at a worsted-weight gauge.

When choosing colors for your own project, just make sure to select two colors that have some significant difference in light value. (That is, choose one color that’s relatively light and another that’s rather dark.) Otherwise, all your hard-won colorwork will be difficult to see.

_______________

ImageAnother design that’s likely to appeal to younger men (and boys!) is Elizabeth Murphy’s Goblin Hat. I love the clever construction on these: if you’ve ever been baffled by how to wear a slouchy hat, you will love how this buttoned-down version makes the wearing of a slouchy hat simple. And what a great stash-buster for leftover bits of worsted-weight yarn. Plus, the pattern is free!

______________

Image

If you need a super-quick knit, try the Courage fingerless mitts (also free) by another new designer, Elizabeth Davis. This pattern includes instructions for three sizes and two lengths (short length shown here), so you can whip up several pairs for people on your list.

Behind the scenes: Hitch, Vertigo, and the San Juan Bautista Shawl

hitch_cover1-270x350

Today, my blog is the 12th stop on the blog tour for Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, edited by Stephannie Tallent. Since I both designed a shawl for this book and also did the page design and layout for the book itself, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes on both parts of the process.

*  *  *

In addition to my love for designing for men and boys, I also have a penchant for designing garments with unusual constructions. I’ve loved unusually constructed garments ever since I first knit Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket – an ingenious design that looks like a malformed jellyfish until you perform the origami maneuver at the end that transforms your jellyfish into a perfect little sweater.

When I saw the call for designs for Hitch, I knew this was another perfect opportunity to design against the grain. As a director, Alfred Hitchcock reset all the cinematographic rules, so I wanted my design to be similarly off-kilter.

My direct inspiration came from this iconic movie poster that Saul Bass did for Hitch’s film Vertigo. (Bass also did the poster for West Side Story, The Shining, and many other great films, by the way.)

vertigo-movie-poster-saul-bass

I decided to translate that wonderful spirograph shape into a two-color shawl. The colors were easy: an orange-red and a light gray, kindly provided by Shibui Yarns. I experimented with several different combinations of stripes and stitch patterns, until I hit upon a simple, two-row, knit-and-purl stripe with yarnovers that fit the bill. The yarnovers run in one direction and the stripes in the other in a way that I thought was quite reminiscent of the original poster.

All that was left was to mimic that dizzying spiral shape. I found that if I cast on a certain number of stitches at the end of every so many rows (more detail available in the pattern, obviously), then the shawl grew outward in an intriguing spiraly way:

Vertigo Shawl swatch

In the end, I had a shawl that is simple to knit and did not feel over-designed – but that has maximum graphic impact:

sanjuanbautista1

sanjuanbautista2

I’ve called it the San Juan Bautista Shawl after the old Spanish mission where Hitch filmed the climactic bell tower scenes. It turns out the bell tower was a complete fabrication created as a movie set – the actual mission’s tower had burned down decades earlier – which I thought was a fitting tribute both to Vertigo‘s own deceptions as well as the fact that this shawl is deceptively simple to knit.

*  *  *

Once I had finished designing my piece for the book, I had the pleasure of laying out the book for Cooperative Press, where I’m the art director. The editor, Stephannie Tallent, had done an exceptional job of choosing garment designs that complemented each other well, and she had also smartly limited the color palette for the yarns to red, black, gray, and white. Even though more than 25 designers contributed to the book, the collection looks as cohesive as if one designer had done them all.

Our photographer, Nick Murway, specializes in dramatically lit shots, and CP’s editor/publisher, Shannon Okey, selected an elegant vintage wardrobe kindly loaned to us by Deering Vintage. The combined look was very Hitchcock. (By the way, the model pictured above is one of my former students, Marie Draz, who is a brilliant doctoral student in philosophy and just happens to have a classic Grace-Kelly-like beauty.)

It was my lot, then, to pull together all these striking elements into a book. Stephannie and I perused through various Hitchcockian fonts, finally settling on Filmotype Kingston for its elegance and legibility. (The body text is all in Century Schoolbook, a font used frequently in the 1950s.) For the book’s color palette, I of course adhered to the same black-and-white-and-red-all-over look of the garments. The rest of the book design was relatively straightforward, but I did add a few fun elements like using a small Hitchcock silhouette as the icon that you click on in the digital version when you want to return to the table of contents.

*  *  *

Do check out the 28 other gorgeous patterns in this book. As someone who designs mainly for guys, I should point out that there are some patterns in here for you as well: the Robie Sweater, the Exakta Hat, and the Kentley socks.

And if you enjoyed reading this post, try these others stops on the Hitch blog tour!
9/28/2013: Sunset Cat Designs
10/5/2013: Knitting Kninja
10/7/2013: Herrlichkeiten
10/8/2013: Knit and Travel
10/9/2013: Knit & Knag Designs
10/10/2013: Wooly Wonka Fibers
10/11/2013: Verdant Gryphon
10/15/2013: Impeccable Knits: Shifting Stitches
10/16/2013: Rewolluzza
10/21/2013: Knitwear Designs by Carolyn Noyes
10/22/2013: Peacefully Knitting
10/23/2013: Dark Matter Knits (You are here! Thanks for stopping by. Come back, won’t you?)
10/24/2013: Turnknit: Dani Berg Designs
10/25/2013: SweetGeorgia Yarns
10/28/2013: doviejay knits
10/29/2013: Triona Designs
10/30/2013: Tactile Fiber Arts
11/2/2013: A B-ewe-tiful Design
11/4/2013: A Knitter’s Life
11/5/2013: Catchloops
11/6/2013: Yarn On The House
11/07/2013: Ramblings
11/12/2013: Hazel Knits
11/13/2013: Knitcircus
11/19/2013: indigodragonfly
11/9/2013: Fyberspates
11/25/2013: knittingkirigami

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:

Image

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.

________________________

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.

Image

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.

___________________________

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.

Image

___________________________

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

________________________

Image

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.
________________________

Image

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.
________________________

Image

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.