I have knitted many sweaters for my lovely husband. Some go to the back of the wardrobe and are never seen again. Some get put on right away and are worn every day. So, what is the difference? All of the sweaters were knitted with care and with love.
The right yarn
The yarn has to be soft. He won’t wear the sweater if it is itchy! Don’t choose a yarn which won’t wash well. If he likes the sweater and it gets ‘cumfy’ he may wear it when it has gone pilly and stretchy and people will blame you for knitting a bad sweater.
Beware of showing your man a ball of yarn and expecting him to know what a sweater in that yarn will look like. It is better to take him shopping and show him lots of sweaters. When he finds one he likes, take notes of what he likes about it – colour, shape, texture, fit and so on.
Colour is very important. Brown, grey and blue are generally safe colours. However, your man may surprise you. My husband has twice wanted a sweater I knitted for someone else. One was a lovely heathery plum colour and the other was red and black! Go figure?
The right fit and size
Bodies vary widely in their measurements. A man can be tall with long arms, or short and stocky. Men hate sweaters with sleeves that are too short, or a body that does not quite fit. Even when you carefully take arm and body measurements, you have to take into account the idea of ease, that is, how loose or tight he likes his sweaters to fit.
An easier way, perhaps, is to find your man’s favourite sweater (you know the one he wears all the time!) and then measure carefully to get the perfect fit. To do this correctly, you will need to know how to achieve the correct tension or gauge. When you knit a sweater which is the right fit, knit it in every colour and stitch pattern you can think of. He is bound to like some of them!
The shape, line and drape
Men are very fussy about the shape, line and drape of the sweater. Of course, they don’t know the technical terms, but if you get it wrong then the sweater will stay in the drawer!
The tension or gauge
All knitters know the importance of tension. As if to tell us what we know already, all good patterns will have notes about tension, and emphasis the need to work to the correct size. Before embarking on any project, you dutifully knit your tension swatch and measures stitches and rows. If you have too many stitches and rows your knitting is too tight and too few means your knitting is too loose. To add to this, every yarn will have its’ ideal knitted tension, and so all 4 plys will not necessarily be knitted to the same tension.
The stitch pattern
Here are some stitch patterns which men like:
- Broken (mistake) rib
- Bamboo stitch
- Basket weave stitch
- Brioche Rib
- Cable and rib patterns
- Fisherman’s rib
- Harris Tweed rib
- Moss stitch
- Simple ribs; 1 x 1, 2 x 1, 7 x 3 etc.
- Stockinette stripes
Knitted for him and worn by you!
You knit him a lovely sweater and then you find that it looks good on you. You never thought of knitting an oversized sweater in that colour for yourself but it looks really good on you so why not!
Knitted for you and worn by him!
A lovely ladies sweater or cardigan might be just the thing for him if it is knitted in the right yarn. So, don’t just look at men’s woolies – imagine the sweater in a more manly colour or stitch structure. Otherwise you might find your favourite sweater disappears from your wardrobe and ends up in his.
You love to knit it and he loves to wear it!
You see a lovely knitting pattern. It has an interesting and complicated shape and stitch structure. You can’t wait to knit it. You find an expensive yarn and get started. Months later you finish this great sweater. Then the man in your life hates it! No matter how much you love to knit it, the sweater has to be something he will want to wear – so check first.
You hate to knit it but he loves to wear it!
My husband likes stockinette (stocking) stitch in blue or beige! If it is a patterned or coloured sweater then he is not keen! So, I have to knit plain sweaters for him. Of course, knitting stockinette (stocking) stitch is boring. I tell myself that at least he will wear this one!
So, find a classic sweater, knit it and makes sure that he likes it. Then knit it again, adding a complicated stitch structure or an interesting colour combination. For example, I knitted a plain brown tank top and then knitted it again in blue stripes. Next time I will try a textured stitch pattern. You can always say ‘ it is very like the last sweater I knitted for you and you liked that one’! If you do it in incremental stages, he might not notice!
Take good notes
Always take good notes. You may be asked to knit it again! You could even start a story board or a scrap book with lots of ideas so that you will always have some inspiration.
A professional finish
Knit something well within your capabilities as a knitter. It is better to knit a wonderful scarf which is worn and loved, than knit a sweater which is avoided. Knitting takes a lot of time, effort and skill. When you knit for the man in your life, make sure that he is going to wear it and love it.