I mentioned I was trying to knit a jumper for my husband Nick, having practised on my son Gus.
Here are the issues with knitting for men
- Much bigger bodies
- Need more yarn and time to complete
- Men’s bodies are a different shape to women
- Most men (or people who do not make clothes in general) do not know how to specify what they want
- I always find making for other people is fraught as there is so much emotional content associated with it.
In this particular case I had added issues
- I was reusing yarn – Rowan Cocoon – from another project – a Kate Davies owl sweater for me. This was a learner project I started years ago and found it too hard and it was never completed. I unravelled the yarn, Nick said he liked it. I started knitting a jumper for him, soon ran out of yarn, reordered it and found it was a completely different colour.
- I unravelled that jumper too, and started again knitting one row of each and this worked surprisingly well.
- I didn’t know what pattern to use. I had tried the Elizabeth Zimmermann New Zealand jersey, but the yarn was too stiff for the job. Or maybe I wasn’t using large enough needles. But it was not pretty.
- I offered Nick some of my vintage patterns but he expressed dislike of anything fussy.
- I thought I would stick to what I knew and produce an Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless sweater. I had already made five or six of these for myself and found the raglan sleeve look was simple and effective.
- On EZs advice I cast on fearlessly and started going round and round in huge circle until the torso tube was complete. I then used the percentage system to determine the sleeve width, and kept decreasing until I got to this stage.
- I didn’t find much instruction on turning this sweater into a polo/turtle neck in Knitting without Tears, but taking advice from Instagram I built up the back neck and side neck by doing about eight short rows to the front raglan seams, and then just knitting a tube for the collar. As you can see in the finished picture there is a fold at the CF below the collar which shows I didn’t get this quite right.
- At this point I put the jumper into a cold wool wash. I have done this before, but on this occasion the jumper shrunk a little bit, and became slightly felted. More positively the yarns blended at this point and the brownness seemed to wash out! At this point I nearly cried. I should have carefully hand washed it as advised by EZ.
- In order to save it I dried it carefully and added length with a knitted ribbed band to the hem and sleeves. In the photo below the ribbing is not soaked; it is just as it came of the needles.
- The shaping is not that great. Nick is fairly wide in the shoulders and chest, with a narrow waist and hips – the classic inverted triangle. As the jumper is just a tupe plus sleeves we have a little tightness across the chest and shoulders, too much fullness at the waist, and loads of fabric at the back that was unwanted and uncalled for.
- Nick said he would prefer a deeper but narrower collar. I was a bit cautious on the width as I wanted to be sure it would go over his head.
I was pleased with the photograph though. The copper background worked beautifully. The second photograph shows the problem at the back. It is shorter and too full.
My first reaction to these obvious fit problems is
- Never make another one
- Actually make another one and learn from the mistakes
So if I do another EZ seamless here is what I will do.
- Using a similar Aran weight yarn use the stitch count to make adjustments.
- Do half a dozen short rows at the start to make the back longer than the front
- Start narrower and gradually increase by around 20% as you come to the joining of the sleeves to the body piece.
- Repeat the method already outlined for the collar, but I will use less stitches to create a narrow, longer tube.
- Don’t machine wash the jumper!
It was a labour of love and it was not entirely successful. But it was a good learning experience and I am going to do another one at some point.