Back in the spring of 2005, when this blog had only been around for about a month, I wrote a screedish little entry about how my search for a men's sweater pattern had turned up miles of Aran cables and acres of Fair Isle, but nothing I felt would suit a fellow in my particular (urban, gay, young[ish]) circumstances.
"The knitting fad," I huffed, "has brought out shelves full of pattern books for the young urban female knitter. So how much longer do the guys have to wait, dammit?"
I think the wait is over.
I've just spent a pleasant couple of hours sitting with Kristin Spurkland's The Knitting Man(ual), a copy of which was sent to me for review by the publisher, Ten Speed Press. This is the book I had in mind when I wrote that early complaint; and a solid piece of work it is, too.
In putting her book together, Spurkland and her publishers have taken obvious care to appeal to a male audience without condescension. The look is sharp and decidedly masculine, with clean typography and subtle blocks of color. Refreshingly, however, there is no reliance on cheap macho stereotypes: no army camouflage, no grunge typefaces, no evocation of the car repair manual aesthetic. The handsome photography by John Valls, which includes a wide range of races, ages, and body shapes, is beautifully executed and shows off the projects to perfection.
And the projects themselves (there are twenty-two) are on the whole a well-edited and attractive lot. The first is a ribbed and cabled throw; the others are all for garments, including hats, gloves, mittens, socks, and several sweaters. All have their good points and some are perfectly delicious. Only two (house slippers with weird toes and a schlubby color block scarf) miss the mark entirely. Paging through the rest afforded me the pleasure, never before enjoyed, of finding in one volume six different projects I'd like to knit for myself. The previous record, in case you're wondering, was two.
For true beginners, there's the usual introductory section of techniques–illustrated with photographs of male hands. This would be a perfect gift for a guy newbie, as the projects range from very simple to moderately complex. I could well imagine it providing impetus enough to keep his needles clicking until he's past the Point of No Return.
The only thing not here that I'd like to see is some discussion of male fitting issues. And yes, ladies, male fitting issues do exist. Not all shoulders are created equal, to say nothing of chests and stomachs. Perhaps in volume two? (Hint, hint.)
In 2005, knitting books occupied about six inches of space on my bookshelves; now they take up five feet or more. I own more than enough books on knitting technique, design, and history. My need for The Knitting Man(ual) is perhaps not so vital as it once was, but I'm still awfully happy to find it at last.
Thanks for the positive feedback on the recent design changes. I'm still working on them, so certain features (like my blogroll) aren't in place yet. All in good time.