Knitting for Men: Modifying the Brick Pullover

TJ in Brick Pullover
Kathy Zimmerman's Brick Pullover on T.J.

You folks are such a hoot. All day yesterday, folks around the office were quoting your comments on Monday's Men of Interweave Gallery to each other. I am pleased to announce that the comments included our very first Knitting Daily proposal of marriage (an arranged marriage, but still); and many, many exclamations of admiration for our four male models.

I must say, there was quite a lot of giggling here.

Modifications for the Brick Pullover

Now, down to serious business. You asked some great questions about modifying the Brick Pullover from the Summer 2008 issue of Knits, so let me try to give you some hopefully great answers!

Can you show us a photo of this sweater on a woman? Sure. I've added a photo of me-wearing-The-Brick, plus the usual commentary, to the Brick Pullover Gallery.

The neck looks as though it is being pulled down too low in the back. Adrienne B. and Terrie R. both asked if it would be possible to add some short-row shaping (a la Elizabeth Zimmermann) in the back to remedy this.

On this particular sweater, you cannot add short-rows horizontally across the back "yoke," as each shoulder/yoke section is worked from side to center, as an extension of the sleeves, not from the bottom up or top down. (Read through the construction notes at the top of the Gallery page; you will see that there is a vertical seam connecting both shoulder pieces at center back.)

You could, however, work fewer bind-off rows when shaping the back neck. So for example, in the pattern, at Shape Back Neck, work to the point where it tells you to "bind-off 2 sts at back neck edge three times." If you "bind off 2 sts at neck edge" only twice, then you have two additional columns of stitches that run the full length across the back neck, raising the back neck by the width of two stitches.

The back neck section

And Now: The Question of Beer Bellies

Sharon H. asks: "My husband has a rather large belly. I know what to do for women's shaping, but I can never find anything about different men's shapes. Any hints?"

Well, men are just human beings, after all. Bodies are just bodies, right? And a beer belly is just one sort of curve, yes? All right then. Although shaping for men is non-traditional, perhaps this is one tradition it is time to let go of, in the interests of better-fitting clothing for all you wonderful men out there, knitters or no.

If you were knitting for a woman with a large belly, you'd add short rows, or increase/decrease to give some waist shaping, for example. However, for a sweater like this one with a distinct pattern over the belly, you can't really add short-rows (regardless of whether you were knitting it for a man or for a woman). The pattern stitch is "in the way," so to speak; the short-rows would show. You cannot add "belly darts" here for the same reason.

Since the Brick Pullover is worked hem upwards, what about casting on the number of stitches corresponding to beer-belly-plus-ease, then working decreases on the way up (at the sides, where they won't show), so that when you get to the chest area, the stitch count is closer to manly-chest-plus-ease?

Bertha says rust is not her color…

Yes, this is the same sort of math one does for waist shaping, so you could even use the Waist Shaping Calculator, I suppose. Differences: You aren't working an hourglass; you'd want the shaping to be gradual and subtle; the narrowest part isn't necessarily the waist; and you (probably…) won't be increasing back up to accommodate a "bust." Other than that: It's Just Math. We've talked about fearlessly using our shaping skills for women's sweaters; why shouldn't we use our knitterly math skills to make men's sweaters more comfortable and flattering, too?

And finally, my favorite comment:

What, no Bert? Bertha must be lonely! (Laura S.)

Welll..Bertha really wants to focus on her career right now, so I'm not sure she's ready for a boyfriend. However, I have been thinking about getting Bertha a "big sister" once the budget allows…

Do you have any questions or suggestions about adjusting this sweater to fit yourself or someone you love? Leave a comment!

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Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily every Thursday. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits. Or, if you're on Twitter, follow her tweets: alpacasandi.

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