We don't know about you, but around here we run into the same question every year: What the heck are we going to knit for our dad/son/husband!? These men, we love them, but let's be honest, they aren't always easy to knit for. They want dark colours, but not too dark; they want something nice, but not too fussy; they want something soft, but not too feminine. On and on go the caveats until you're just about ready to throw your hands in the air and get them a book instead. Well, this year we're here to help you out.
In the shop, we're frequently asked about patterns for men, so we've had some time to think about it. Not all men are the same, so we've broken down the main categories of gift knitting (taking into account that it's already December) and prepared a short list of our favourite patterns, with some yarn ideas thrown in. The list isn't exhaustive, but it is varied enough that something on here should pop out at you. So here we go.
We love this Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted for hats and next-to-skin garments. It's soft and warm, and oh-so-subtly variegated.
Let's start from the top, shall we? Hats are a great gift because they're practical, easy to fit, and can be given year after year to great acclaim. Here are three of our favourites.
1. The Hat Most Likely to Succeed by Alexandra Virgiel is a great staple to have in your knitting arsenal.It combines the classic cable detail of an Irish hiking hat with the practical warmth of a watch cap, making it the best of both worlds. Stylish and practical – we think every man should have one in their winter wardrobe.
2. Man Hat by Haven Leavitt – the name says it all, really. This is a bare-bones, ribbed hat, that manages to still have some style. Knit in heavy worsted or chunky-weight yarn, this is guaranteed to be a quick knit that will pass even the most discerning of style critiques. Sometimes you just need a simple, basic hat, and this pattern will suit that request perfectly.
3. For something sporty and fun, that will suit a guy of just about any age, we like the Man's Striped Flap Hat by Purl Soho. Ear flaps are fun, and perfect for a hat intended to be worn when playing outside on a cold winter's day. Throw some bright stripes in the mix and you've got a sporty winner.
Scarves are a classic Christmas gift for a reason: versatile, stylish, and necessary if you live somewhere cold. Certainly a basic ribbed scarf is always an option, but if you're looking for something a little different (or you did that last year), here are three other good options for you.
1. If you want something classic and a little understated, Henry by Mareike Sattler (from Knitty, Fall 2007) is a great choice. Knit from long edge to long edge (that is: the length is determined by your cast-on, and you knit until you're happy with the width), you're guaranteed to have a scarf long enough to go around his neck by the time the holidays arrive. The subtle herringbone stitch looks like it could be woven, and would pair seamlessly with a suit, a pea coat, or a leather jacket.
2. In the mood for something sportier? Why not try Angela Hickman's Fake Spring Scarf? Simple stripes repeat and then reverse for a little interest and colour, all the while keeping the (free) design simple. Knit in garter stitch in a worsted to chunky-weight wool, this is a quick project, and easily customizable to suit a preferred sports team or whatever colour palette you want.
3. For something in between, we like the Jour de Neige Scarf by Christine Mills. A pair of horseshoe cables do most of the work here, which keeps the knitting interesting for you and keeps the pattern classic enough for him. As a bonus, the cables are large enough that you can go wild with colour and not detract from them – heck, you could even do big bold stripes if you wanted!
HandsMittens and/or gloves are great for this time of year because they're small enough that you can carry them around with you and knit on the go, but they're substantial enough to be impressive. Plus, as it gets colder they become everyday accessories and there's nothing more satisfying than seeing your handknits get put to good use!
1. A good pair of man-gloves can be hard to find, but we like these Foxhall Gloves by The Rainey Sisters. The texture gives them interest, but doesn't make them fussy, and they could easily be worn for work or play.
2. Masculine looking mittens can be hard to find, but we think theyse 3 Stitch Waffle Mitts by Zortified do the trick nicely. They're chunky and substantial looking, but not knit so tightly as to be useless. These are great grab and go mittens, and because of the stitch pattern they lend themselves to both colourful and subdued colourways.
3. Wait wait, don't tell us, you have a man who wants it all? Never fear, we thought of that too. Glenna C.'s Chilly Podsters are perfect for the man who needs warm hands and access to his phone/keys/iPad/whatever. The flip-top offers mitten warmth and glove versatility, and the extra flip-thumb means easy access to any touch-screen device he might use. For a convertible mitten that's a little more robust, we love Borough by Veronica O'Neill (from Knitty, Winter 2011). Thick and textured, these are a more woodsy option, and we love them.
Knitting socks for a man is a true labour of love since let's face it, their feet are big! Socks can also be tricky because often design elements that make them fun to knit – lace, intricate cables, twisted stitches, whatever – are vetoed by men as being too fussy. We went through a lot of sock patterns to find men-approved choices. May we recommend that you cast on now?
1. We love the simple texture of Velodrome by Natalie Selles. These socks are intuitive to knit, and you'll cruise along, which is definitely good if you're starting them now. They aren't totally mindless, though, so while they're basic enough to go into regular rotation for the recipient, there's still a little interest for you on the knitting side. As an added bonus, they're great for variegated yarns!
2. Remember what we said about men usually vetoing twisted stitches and cables, well forget all that, because John Huston, the Tarnished Hero by Rachel Coopey flies in the face of that logic. These socks are definitely masculine, but also definitely fun to knit – plus they come with a great back story. How can you go wrong?
3. Feeling ambitious? These Border Socks by Mary-Jane Mucklestone are a great pick. The fair-isle colourwork is a classic motif, and combined with the ribbing it makes for an excellent man's sock that is both interesting to knit and easy to wear. Switch up the colours to suit the man you're knitting for, and you're good to go!
Sometimes all it takes is the right colour, and we have a wide range of gorgeous shades (in various fbre belnds) from SweetGeorgia, Malabrigo, and Cascade.