Patterns for Men

It’s been a while since I knitted a sweater for Doug (the last was Brick, which you can see here).  I am thinking it is time to knit him another and so have begun the process of considering patterns.  I started by looking through the men’s patterns that I have favorited on Ravelry in the past six months or so.  As I thought this topic might be of general interest,  today I’ll show you some of the patterns that caught my eye for one reason or another.

Rowan is one of the few reliable print sources for Men’s patterns.  Each issue of the magazine has quite a few men’s patterns; always beautifully photographed.  They tend towards lots of ease, so beware if you knit one – think carefully about how much ease you really want in your finished sweater.  The recent issue of Rowan (Rowan 55) had two men’s sweaters that stood out for me.  The first is Guido, designed by Carlo Volpi:

copyright Rowan Yarns 2014

copyright Rowan Yarns 2014

I’ve never heard of Volpi before, but this is a great start.  I like the subtle texture used here and the colour palette as well.  This sweater is knit in Rowan Purelife Revive, which is a blend of silk, cotton and viscose.  I do love silk sweaters for men.

In the same volume is the pattern Estefan, a cotton vest designed by the great colour wizard, Brandon Mably:

copyright Rowan Yarns 2014

copyright Rowan Yarns 2014

I must admit it is hard to decide what I like best here: (1) the vest, (2) the model, or (3) the stairwell.  It is a tough choice but I think the stairwell probably wins.  (Oh dear, I’m afraid I’m showing my age!)

One of the most iconic sweater patterns of all time is the Marius pattern from Norway.  It is named after Marius Eriksen, Jr.  Marius served as a fighter pilot in World War II, before he was shot down and held as a Prisoner of War.  After the war, he became a champion skier and was twice Norwegian National Champion.  His mother, Birgit, designed and knit a sweater for him based upon traditional Norwegian sweaters.  Marius later became an actor and he wore this sweater in the film Troll i Ord.  There are literally thousands of variations of the Marius pattern; drop it in your favorite search engine for some idea of its endurance and popularity.

I recently came across a very modern and spare variation in a vest, called (not surprisingly) the Marius-Vest, by Sandnes Design.  This version is in grey tones instead of the more standard blue and cream.  I like it enough to attempt to translate the pattern from Norwegian:

copyright Sandnes Design

copyright Sandnes Design

To continue with the Nordic theme, I also like the Icelandic sweater pattern Spegilsléttur:

copyright Istex.IS

copyright Istex.IS

This was designed by Bergrós Kjartansdóttir and knit with Lopi wool.  The yoke design is very architectural to me, and feels like late, cold, winter sun coming through lead-paned windows.  (With a few mods here and there, it would make a great women’s cardigan.)

Kyle Kunnecke is a new designer who I am keeping an eye on. He designs and blogs under the name Kyle William.  I think his sweaters are clever and fun.  He is really someone to watch in my opinion.  He recently released this fabulous pattern, called Colton:

copyright Kyle William

copyright Kyle William

I love this sweater!  Houndstooth is big right now, and this is one of the most appealing examples of the houndstooth revival.  I think it is very sharp.  The colour choice here is great and the line and fit are perfect.

Martin Storey has designed more sweaters than possibly anyone.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he designed a sweater before breakfast each day.  He designs for everyone – men, women, children – and in every style – classic, fair isle, cabled, rugged, elegant, slouchy.  He is one of Rowan’s star designers (pointing out again that Rowan is one of the few go-to places for men’s sweater patterns).  I like lots of Martin’s designs, but found myself really drawn to this one:

copyright Rowan Yarns 2013

copyright Rowan Yarns 2013

He calls this Neat Tailored Jacket, which I guess says it all.  I think it is a gorgeous example of knitted tailoring.  I like everything about it.  This is published in the book Sarah Hatton and Martin Storey Designer Knits.

I couldn’t write a post about men’s patterns without highlighting Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed.  Jared has catapulted to fame in recent years both as a designer and as the founder and creative presence behind Brooklyn Tweed, a yarn producer and design house.  In the summer, BT produced its first issue of men’s patterns, simply called BT Men, which was a very welcome entry into this sparsely occupied field.  One of his contributions to the issue is the ruggedly cabled Timberline:

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

This is a great example of taking a traditional style and putting just a bit of a modern twist to it.  Look, for example, at the detail in the lapels.   It is this meticulous attention to details combined with a real love of the history and traditions of knitted garments that sets BT apart.

Interestingly enough, the sweater I like the most from BT Men is one I hardly glanced at when the issue was first released.  This is the design Redford, by Julie Hoover:

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

At first glance this is so ordinary a crew neck that I couldn’t see the point; surely this is the kind of sweater that you could buy rather than knit.  I mean, there are literally miles of stockinette stitch here, all knit in fingering weight wool.  But the more I look at it, the more I like it.  The details are super.  The side panels give a very modern line, the shoulders are perfectly fit, and I like the bottom edge – the lack of ribbing makes this fresh.  This is knit in BT Loft, a delicate, tweedy, fingering weight wool which I am using now to knit my Carpino sweater.  I think it would make the perfect men’s sweater fabric – very light and soft but still 100% wool goodness with all that implies.

I’m not sure whether any of these will end up on my needles for Doug.  There are many older patterns which just may provide competition.  In the meantime it is fun to keep searching.  Writing this post has led me to two observations.  First, there is a decided lack of patterns for men.  This is really sad and also incomprehensible to me.  Second, beards are definitely in this year!

[11 Feb – edited to fix two typos]

12 thoughts on “Patterns for Men

  1. I felt the exact same way about Redford, but now it’s definitely sitting in my queue. Brooklyn Tweed is my favorite source of men’s pattern’s because the patterns are much more fitted. I was going through my older knitting books to see if there were any I could throw out. I leafed through one of the Rowan books and almost everything had 6+ inches of ease. You can knit a size down, but if the pattern is built to be that baggy (i.e. with shoulders that don’t fit tightly), it won’t turn out well.

    • Hi Allison! I tried to knit Doug a sweater from Rowan (Noah) and even knitting a size down it had about 8″ of ease. It looked so ridiculous, I finally just stopped and put it away. One day I’ll recycle the yarn. BT patterns in my experience are very well fitted.

  2. Haha! I agree, mind you I have to say beards are in as Jon refuses to shave! I like the Martin Storey cardi best, the cabled one is too hot for any man, the plain sweater is too plain, and the other ones would be a bit too colourful for Jon, I think men are more conservative than us. I agree with the tiled stairwell however my mind kept the hunk in the stairwell minus the pullover etc. lol! X

  3. Tough choices. I am going to show B. this post and see what he thinks. There’s definitely some here he hasn’t seen (we regularly go through Rav looking for potential candidates, he is so freakin’ picky my jaw drops when he actually likes something). Love Kyle, he’s so nice, too! Definitely a designer on my Watch List. Carlo Volpi is known for some crazy chunky runway knits, I saw some stuff on Pinterest.

  4. Goodness, so many choices. Jared Flood’s work is beautiful, and Martin Storey’s work as well. (Which reminds me, I have a Martin Storey sweater in the works for Eric. Well, technically not “in the works” considering I’m not even sure which Rubbermaid bin it’s stored in). AACK. Moving right along!

    I particularly like the Missoni-esque vibe the first sweater gives off. I’m putting my money on Carlo Volpi. The colours of the Purelife Revive are gorgeous! As we say in our knitting circle: CAST ON, CAST ON, CAST ON!

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