Knitting for Men: Cables

Those of us who knit for men know that it can be a challenge. At least this has been my experience. The list of approved colors and patterns is often very short, limiting what I can make that will actually be worn. Things that I think would look great on a person are not always met with the enthusiasm I feel. It can be a tough situation when you want to make something for someone, but also want to make sure it gets some use!

I really like this colorway. It's manly, yes, but also just really fun!

I really like this colorway. It’s manly, yes, but also just really fun!

The first male I ever knit for was my dad, and, because my father is a great guy, his reaction to my creation was positive. What I made was a pot holder (thankfully I didn’t try a wearable thing right off the bat!), from a synthetic, muddy water color of yarn, that looked like Oklahoma. It was not pretty. But he acted like it was awesome. As my knitting skills improved, expectations were raised, and he, and other men in my life, requested certain things.

For a few years I made a lot of hats. I didn’t follow any patterns, so there was a lot of trial and error. Turns out that people don’t really want to wear over-sized hats all the time. Then I tried to jazz things up by using what I thought were great stitch patterns, but I think I sometimes went over the top. I had to remake a few projects when the recipients were very appreciative, but their faces said “never in a million years would I ever wear that”. I wasn’t offended by this, I was learning that it’s important to get input when you’re making things for people. Especially when you’re knitting for men.

I think that cables are very often the way to go regarding manly knitting. Historically many fisherman sweaters featured all over cables, big cables, small cables, crazy intricate knots, and simpler swoops and twists, often with cables on the sleeves too. Some of the Aran sweaters I drool over on Pinterest are made by big box store chains, and I constantly find myself thinking “I could make that.”

Into this pinning/swooning over men in knitwear frenzy fell the Red Loop Pullover by Meghan Babin from Knitscene Winter 2015. It has the awesome all over different kinds of cables, as well as a super cozy shawl collar. Here are some photos…look at those cables! Staghorns. Ropes. It’s awesome.

Red Loop Pullover

knitting for men

I have worn this sample and it is delightful. The drop shoulders make it roomy and comfortable and, let’s face it, super stylish. The shawl collar is picked up at the end, making it a seamless addition to this otherwise seamed pullover.

If a sweater is maybe too much for a gentleman in your life right now, a hat might be a sound alternative. The Plain & Fancy Hat by Josie Mercier from Knits Gifts 2015 is reversible, with cables on one side and ribbing on the other. It can be plain or fancy depending on circumstance and situation!

knitting for men

knitting for men

I don’t want to make the generalization that all men want their knitwear covered in copious cables, but there is a strong tradition of cables on things made for men. It’s always a good plan to get some kind of input before diving headfirst into making something, whether it’s for a man or a woman. When I knit for people, regardless of what I make, I’m pretty sure that recipients know that I like them a whole heck of a lot. But if I can make something that he or she will also like a whole heck of a lot, that is a true win.

Happy cable knitting!


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