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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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.

Men’s and boys’ knitting roundup: special Gift-A-Long edition

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With the Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL) starting on Ravelry tonight (at 8pm EST), I thought I’d show you some of my favorites of the men’s and boys’ patterns that are eligible for the GAL’s generous 25% discount.

There are 293 designers participating in the GAL, each person putting between 4 and 20 patterns on sale, so wading through everything can take a while. There is, of course, a great pleasure to be had in this browsing—a pleasure I’ve been indulging in last night and this morning—but if you’re looking specifically for men’s and boys’ knits, the search could get a little tedious.

Never fear! I’ve pulled together a substantial catalog of my favorites from the men’s and boys’ patterns that are part of this year’s GAL. This is by no means a complete list of what’s available in the GAL for men and boys—these are just some of my faves.

Also bear in mind that some of these designers have multiple patterns up for boys and men, so if you see something you like, click on the designer’s name on the Ravelry pattern page, and see what else they’ve got in their Gift-A-Long bundle!


MEN’S PATTERNS

Chum’s Pullover by Kate Bostwick
Such a great neckline. Perfect for men who are either slim or very muscular.

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Cashmere Cosy by Loraine Birchall
It is entirely possible that I am being influenced by what is—erm—not the hat in this photo.

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Saturnalia Infinity Scarf by Elizabeth Elliott
Modern look and a great way to make a neutral yarn fun to knit.

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Dawson by Elizabeth Green Musselman (that’s me!)
Shawl collars are perfect for the cold, and the texture keeps the knitting interesting.

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Askance by Rich Ensor
Rich has tons of great men’s socks available in the GAL.

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Bilateral Beanie by Karin Wilmoth
I’ve included two photos here to show you how cool this reversible, double-knit hat is.

Rayguns by Annie Watts
For the sci-fi fan, it doesn’t get any cooler than these gloves. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

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Johannes by Suvi Simola
Excellent use of texture—and three cheers for the non-standard issue model.

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Pigment by Lee Meredith
For the man who loves color, this scarf is where it’s at.

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Black Slant by Anneh Fletcher
Anneh’s socks are modeled by women, but most are perfect for men and all have interesting construction.

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BOYS’ PATTERNS

There are a number of great designs for baby and toddler boys in the GAL, but here I’m focusing on boys aged 4–18.

Umberto by Sarah Ronchetti
Great classic knit, in both sweater and vest version, sized 3mos to 12 years.

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Little Fox Mittens by Birch Hollow Cottage
Birch Hollow has a whole range of woodland creature mittens in the GAL.

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Lighthouse Keeper by Andrea Sanchez
This adorable, quick, bulky knit comes in sizes 6mos to 12 years.

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Japhy by Elizabeth Sullivan
Will wonders never cease? A sweater pattern written just for teen boys!

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Texo Pullover by Anjali M
Who doesn’t love pockets? Just enough texture, too. Sized for toddlers to tweens.

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Mt. Hood Snow Cap by Star Athena
This hat is sized for children and adults, but looks especially dashing on this little guy.

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Langstroth by Elizabeth Green Musselman (yup, me again)
One of my first designs and still one of my favorites—just knits, purls and slip stitches.

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Limepop Sweater by Terri Kruse
Another classic use of texture and raglan shaping, sized 12 mos to 8 years.

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Have fun! And don’t forget to join the knitalongs that go along with the GAL.

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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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 | http://www.mixedmartialartsandcrafts.com
24 September | Fibretown podcast | http://fibretown.blogspot.com
28 September | Must Stash podcast | http://muststashpodcast.com
29 September | Through the Back Loops blog | http://throughthebackloops.wordpress.com
2 October | Through the Looking Glass blog | http://noirbettie.com/blog/
5 October | The Knitgirllls podcast | http://theknitgirllls.com
10 October | Makewise Designs blog | http://makewisedesigns.com
15 October | Sunset Cat Designs blog | http://www.sunsetcat.com/blog/
17 October | Joeli’s Kitchen podcast | http://www.joeliskitchen.com/the-podcast/
22 October | Slate Falls Press blog | http://www.slatefallspressbooks.com
3 November | Wattsolak blog | http://wattsolak.com
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Available now on Ravelry and Cooperative Press’s website.

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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DMK Podcast, Episode 14: Taking Stock

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-14-taking-stock_24665

We’ve pretty much all been there: for a while you keep careful track of your stash—probably on Ravelry—and then slowly it slips away from you, and you have no idea what you’ve got anymore. I just re-cataloged my entire stash, and in this episode talk about what I learned from it.

For the technique segment at the end, I explain several ways to measure and keep track of partial skeins.

Mentioned in this episode:

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!