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 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!

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.

Podcast Episode 8: Bind Off Loosely

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WATCH NOW:
http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/bind-off-loosely_16265

We’re often exhorted to “bind off loosely,” but sometimes that can be hard. Today, I talk about how knitting helped stay calm and loose through some alarming medical news; how I almost completely blew it while having a shawl that I designed test-knit; and how to work Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off without it ruffling at the edges.

Mentioned in this episode:

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

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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.

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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.)

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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

The curse of Barbara Walker

Tip for the week: Don’t ever think that you can base a pattern that you’re designing on a pattern from one of Barbara Walker’s amazing stitch dictionaries, and still expect to feel original by the end.

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I’ve been working on a stole design for months now. (That’s it in the photo above.) I’ve got the concept all worked out – it’s just taking me a long time to execute the prototype. I want to make sure it looks in reality like what I have in my mind’s eye.

The repeating lace design at the heart of the thing is the Embossed Twining Vine Leaf pattern from page 238 of Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It’s a stunning piece of lace and lovely in its complexity: it takes 24 rows just to finish one repeat of the pattern. I’m going to layer some additional elements on top of this, but I’m delighted with how the vines look as they trail along the length of the stole. It looks especially fabulous in the rich semi-solid tones of Dream in Color Smooshy in the Happy Forest colorway.

Then, the winter issue of Interweave Knits arrived in the mail, and my smugness was shattered. There are not one but TWO patterns in this issue that use this very vine pattern: the Climbing Vines Pullover and the Stenton Garden Pillows. (Weirdly, each pattern has a completely different chart, though the knitted result would be the same.)

Now, I’m grateful for the charts, because following Walker’s written instructions was making my eyes cross, and my attempts to chart the thing had reached the limits of my charting intelligence.

And even though seeing these IK patterns makes me feel like I just showed up at a party wearing the same dress that two other women were wearing, you have to figure, hey, it’s got to be a great dress if all three of us are wearing it, right?