A long running issue with men getting into knitting has been patterns. There is a long history of men being the recipients of knitted gifts that are somewhat....ill-conceived. Said gifts are often fussy, with too many details or the wrong colour choice. Scratchy yarn is a big turn-off, as are impractical garments. There is a well-known 'sweater curse' that even has its own Wikipedia entry.
Mike is going to be working off some his favourite patterns for the Man Made course, including some WWII standard issue patterns for knitting for the troops. Knitting for a man at war couldn't be fussy: it had to be simple, practical and highly functional. Function namely being warm. My idea of the perfect knitwear design is a harmony in simplicity. I find all too often that designers of both mens and womenswear have a tendency to add 'something else'. Something else usually being totally unnecessary and upsetting the balance of the underlying design.
What i've learned over the years is that men don't want complicated design, they want to put on a jersey that keeps them warm. The jersey shouldn't tell the world very loudly that it is hand-knit; it should be functional garment that serves its purpose well. It comes down to: the simpler, the better. Here's my round-up of great man knits - with an attempt to include some of the best male knitwear designers around.
(don't mind that this image shows a model wearing a sample two sizes too big for him)
This entire post could be a shrine to Jared Flood, but I've resisted that urge. Jared Flood, of Brooklyn Tweed, is an incredible design talent. I'd go so far as to say he is an knitwear architect - every one of his designs have strong foundations with the simplest and most balanced details. His success is well-earned, that's for sure. He now works with an esteemed group of designers and has his own yarn line. He's my man-knit hero.
There is still a pretty big gap in the men's knitwear pattern market, but it is slowly being filled. Unfortunately there are still a lot of hideous patterns being produced. My challenge to our new male knitters: design your own patterns. Knit what you want to wear. Let's start sending a clear message about the kind of knits that fit into your life. And wear them with pride.