Where does everyone get their patterns?

I’m glad to see more men knitting. Eventually this will lead to an increase in the availability of men’s patterns as various publications begin to realize that more and more men are defying stereotypes and picking up the needles and demanding something interesting to knit for ourselves. I was looking through the January 2006 issue of Creative Knitting last night, and they only featured two patterns for men. The hat was okay. I might knit it this summer when I’m wondering what to do with all my odds and ends of cascade 220. The sweater, however, was another sweater designed by a woman for a woman to knit for her man. It wasn’t exactly something I’d knit for myself or even wear if some woman did knit it for me. These sentiments are typical for almost every knitting publication or pattern book I look through. I realize these publications won’t change until their marketing departments can begin to measure in dollars the amount of men looking for good patterns. But in the meantime, where does everyone get his patterns?

I’ll head out to a Barnes and Noble every few months and look through its selection of knitting publications, and purchase any that interest me, but usually I come home empty-handed. Most of my patterns I purchase from a LYS that has just an unbelievable stock of old knitting pamphlets and books. A lot of the sweater patterns I like are classics that never go out of style, or I will adapt them to a more contemporary look.

The Internet has only really been helpful with patterns when I’m not looking for men’s wear. I have no trouble finding interesting afghan patterns, dog sweater patterns, hats, even a satchel from the men’s issue of Knitty, but knitted men’s wear on the Internet isn’t a whole lot more innovative than its print counterpart. Perhaps I’m just not looking in the right places?

Danny

Well thanks for asking,

Well thanks for asking, JPaul and Amy Ashley! I am not afraid of bold colors, I just look better in shades of gray, brown, and green! Seriously, the color of yarn in a pattern probably holds about 5% influence over my decision to like or dislike any pattern. I know I can always choose a color other than what the designer recommends—and I often do. What really influences my decision the most (after taking a long, hard look at my knitted clothing, half of which is purchased, and the other half hand-made) is texture. I like interesting texture. The sweater I’m wearing today is one I purchased. It’s a concrete gray done in a waffle stitch with I’d say DK or maybe sport weight yarn. The scarf I wore today is a hand-made gift done in a black tweed worsted stitched knit up in a basket weave pattern. The sweater I wore yesterday was also a hand-made gift done in a green tweed worsted and knit in stockinet. No one can go wrong with stockinet! It’s the blue jeans of knit stitches. The last sweater I made for myself was done with worsted yarn in a rib pattern of K2P3 across, next row K across, repeat. My next sweater will be a cardigan knit in stockinet with a mess of light brown alpaca in a DK weight.

I also am attracted to patterns that are classic looking. I don’t want anything that appears that will only be in style for a winter or two. If I’m going to the trouble to knit this whole sweater or whatever, I want to wear it for years. That’s another reason I like to stay away from busy features such as loud colors or funky patterns or anything that gives the garment a "dated" look. When I leaf through an old magazine and hear refrains from old Poison or Guns n’ Roses songs in my head, then I know that particular pattern is probably better left in the 80’s than resurrected for today’s usage.

In summary, I look for texture that will age well. I want something interesting, but not loud. What turns me off is a thousand cables and baubles and anything that is busy or can be labeled "contemporary," which is mostly what I find in knitting magazines. I get the impression that most designers say to themselves, "Oh, you want me to design something for guys? Well, I’ll just take this pattern, use this season’s colors, throw some cables on it, and call it Mitch." I have nothing against cables. I’ve seen sweaters with a cable or two across the chest that looked good. I have a ball of Opal that will be turned into cabled socks soon, but too many cables is just too busy.

I agree that a lot of the women’s patterns are horrible too. I get the impression that now the original wave of the knitting fad has crested and passed, what is left are women who are tired of knitting scarves, and are now moving on to ponchos and shawls (and I’ve noticed a lot of bag patterns lately). Yet apparently the designers and/or editors of these publications also believe that quick gratification is important to their readers because everything is done in chunky or bulky weight yarn: Another big turnoff. I don’t like chunky and bulky weight yarns for garments because they look… well, chunky and bulky, and I just don’t need any help in that department, thank you very much!

My ideal sweater is knit in DK, sport, or maybe even worsted weight. It features a stitch that is interesting in that it adds texture, such a ribbing stitch, or waffle stitch, or some other stitch I don’t know about yet. It is comfortable in that it isn’t so big as to bunch up under my coat, yet it’s not skin tight because few American men look good in anything that is skin tight, myself included. It has a classic, timeless look to it that won’t be dated in a few years. I would design this sweater myself, and maybe I will in a few years, once I know enough about knitting to start designing my own patterns. In the meantime, please take my suggestions and run with them. I hope these suggestions and observations are helpful, and if anyone would like me to elaborate, I LOVE to elaborate on my opinions! Feel free to ask.

     I am one of the

     I am one of the designers at The Garter Belt. We would VERY MUCH like to offer quality patterns for men (and hey, in our opinions a lot of what is available for women right now isn't so great either). I would greatly appreciate any input you guys might have about what you are looking for. I am currently doing research for an article on this subject to be put out in our January newsletter as well

     I think it is a real problem. When I have brought up the subject to magazines and yarn companies, they dismiss it as trivial. Most are currently gearing products to HYUK's, which seems to me to be pretty silly considering that they are not the majority or even the ones inclined to spend the most money. My husband as well has been pretty disgusted at availability, but luckily for him i can custom design what he wants.
     So speak up- what DO you want? What things are you looking for or intrigued by? 

JPaul's picture

This discussion brings up

This discussion brings up another question for me:

What do you look for in patterns for men?  What makes a pattern appealing?  If you could design your ideal sweater, what would it look like?

Okay, so it brought up a bunch of other questions....here's some more:  I agree that alot of the designs out there for men are basically crap, but I think there's a lot of bad design in general getting published at the moment, especially in knitting magazines.  We finally have a great selection of knitting magazines (My local B&N carries at least 6 titles!!!) but I'm less and less inclined to buy any of them.  So, when you see a sweater pattern, tell me either what makes it appealing or what makes you avoid it.  Are guys afraid of bold colors? (That's the impression you get from looking at what's out there for the guys).

Just curious?

Knipper's picture

It seems that over the past

It seems that over the past 23 years of knitting there have been a dearth of patterns for men.  I love grabbing on to those old vintage pattern books where the gentlemen where quite slim.  It is a hoot, but provides inspiration.  The Jaeger booklet is a must have; there is plenty of inspiration in it.  What I have been doing the last five years is when finding a pattern that interests me a little, I tend to deconstruct it and knit it to what I want.  There was a sweater in Interweave a couple of years ago designed by the lady who owns Morehouse Farms called the Madagascar sweater.  Liked certain components, used other yarn, did it in the round (my first in the round sweater) and very pleased with the results.  And at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I do a swatch first. 

Which brings the concept of reminding all of us to remember to submit to Menknit.net for their magazine which is actually for us guys.  Sweater pattersn could definitely be used.  I just submitted one to them that I designed using the guidelines from Ann Budd's handy book of sweater patterns to do the set-in sleeve.  Her book is a must have for the knitting library.  Very pleased with the results.  In fact I am wearing it right now as I am off to teach a beginners knitting class.  Five students, no fellas but all willing to learn knitting.  Tonight is week 2 of a 6 week course. 

 

It is a real problem.  Most

It is a real problem.  Most men's patterns are not just limited in availability but also pretty dire!  I have to say that the current (2004) Jaeger Patten Book for men has 16 extremely good and fashionable patterns. I fully recommend this pattern book. Other collections are usually a mixture of women's, childrens and a couple of crap men's patterns thrown in as an afterthought for gran to knit for Christmas. 

I haunt charity shops  for old patterns (I get some very odd looks from the staff) and these can be updated with modern yards and some nifty techniques. Has anyone noticed how skinny men were in the 1930's! The patterns are all for 36/38 inch chests!

Danny, I totally hear you.

Danny, I totally hear you. It is a problem. Hopefully as more and more guys get involved then things will change. I was outraged when I saw Debbie Bliss on television one night and all she talked about was women knitting. I found her website and dashed off an e-mail and got a response the next morning from her assitant and the following day an apology from Debbie herself. I have had several emails from her since.
 I should look in charity shops for some patterns, that is a great idea.
Shake up the knitting world guys. Let them know that we want more patterns and designs by guys for guys. Contact the magazines and publishers and let them know we are waiting and hungry for designs. 

Knit away, knit away