Another Man Jumper

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.
Mixing two shades of yarn
Mixing two different shades
  • 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.
    Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless raglan


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.

Handknitted sweater showing fullness at the back



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.

Man in hand knit poloneck


18 Responses

  1. Kerry

    The ‘Nice Nick’ photo really showcases the jumper without drawing attention to its minor defects! Personally, I have trouble wearing things that I haven’t made ‘perfectly’ hence my lack of output in the clothes sewing department for many years. However, when something is made for someone else, with love, somehow those defects seem less significant. I quite like the rustic look of the jumper, its slight rise at the back and the general semi-sloppiness of it. I do hope he will wear it next winter.

    I suspect the wool you used wasn’t a machine washable yarn? I am an avid front loader bung-it-all in kinda gal, but would balk at washing yarn that I wasn’t sure of. This of course, is because I have in the past made terrible mistakes that were irreversible! The wool I have been using is machine washable and I have found it to be so, and I also like the fact that you don’t end up with a heavy lump of wet wool that takes days to dry (Melbourne winters are so impossible for drying things).

    All in all, I suspect you have learnt heaps from this project? I love your solution to the yarn colour problem.

    • fabrickated

      You are right about the yarn. It clearly didn’t like being in the machine, but I can’t really be doing with handwashing a big thing like that. As you have guessed I have learnt my lesson. Which will be to buy machine washable yarns, not to commit to more handwashing. Thanks for your kind remarks. I will wait until I have forgotten all the bad stuff and then I will have another go.

  2. Rathmore

    What a great effort! I have learned the value of short rows on the back of a sweater. Sometimes it feels like you can’t have enough especially for a tall person. I knit my 6’5” son a sweater – the arms took a long time. I used a pattern and there are many good ones on Ravelry. Don’t give up!

    • fabrickated

      I think a better pattern and more short rows sounds like a great plan. Nick is only 6′ and a bit so not as tall as Gus, but it was still at least twice as much work as one for myself.

  3. Joyce

    I agree with Kerry. I love the rustic look of this sweater. No need for perfection! It looks like a well worn and loved sweater that’s been to sea and back a few times- I suggest a pipe prop next photo shoot! Well done Kate!
    Joyce from Sudbury

  4. Kay Alexander

    Kate, the jumper turned out beautifully! Perhaps you’d be interested in a jumper/sweater design class offered on Craftsy? It’s taught by Shirley Paden, and is very thorough. She also has written a book about her method of designing a jumper, if you’d be interested.

    • fabrickated

      That sounds very interesting Kay; I shall certainly look it up. I prefer real life learning but I have done one Crafty course on lace and it was quite good. I may try this, on your recommendation.

  5. helen

    I think this looks great!
    To avoid the front neck pleat would you suggest creating more of a scoop in the front neck by lowering the centre front and bringing the back neck short rows further around to the front?
    I really like the way you have adapted the EZ method into a polo neck.

    • fabrickated

      I think you are right Helen that I should have stopped short on the front neck, perhaps by two or three rows. I believe that would have done the trick. As for the polo neck it was pretty straight forward. She says somewhere just knit the tube for the collar until you are sick of it. I think I got sick of it an inch or two early, so another lesson there.

  6. mrsmole

    What does it look like if you turned it around so the longer front was in the back? Obviously, I know nothing about knitting or yarn but was wondering if the neck to hem length is the same front and back? Love the color and the background!

    • fabrickated

      The back was knitted a little longer at the shoulder so that probably wouldn’t work Mrs Mole, although it looks like it might! Otherwise with being a tube it is the same from all angles. I think I should have done extra rows at the back hem, which is what I will correct next time. My background knowledge is certainly improving. I also like the side view walking shot….!

  7. ceci

    I’m struck with how perfect the yarn color is on your handsome model. No surprise given your color skills, but still…..


    • fabrickated

      Thank you dear Ceci! I originally bought the yarn for myself because light grey is one of my colours. The matching yarn was a bit browner (warmer) than the first batch. While I suit light and cool colours best Nick is actually best in muted shade, so actually introducing the browner yarn made the colour more muddied and worked even better for him. But this is quite subtle reasoning. The simpler explanation is that matching your hair colour, which is often easy with natural wool colours as wool and other natural yarns are similar to human hair, is always a good look. I particularly find the greys and browns (darks, mids and reddish browns), and the natural blacks very good shades to work with natural hair. Have you tried this yourself?

  8. Kim

    I’m using an EZ set of instructions at the moment (the basic sweater you made). I photocopied the instructions so can’t remember the book at the moment but she gives instructions for someone who is narrow hipped with wide shoulders, and addresses the problem of riding up at the back. If you want me to scan and send the page send me an email.
    Nicks jumper actually looks as though it will become well loved, and very well worn.

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