Friday, March 11, 2005

Night Swatch

Intarsia Practice Continues

Jon and Mark, I thank you again. I sat down with the intarsia swatch in earnest last night for about an hour before bed, and between your sage advice and the pretty drawings in the little Vogue Knitting guidebook I was able to successfully knit my little brown shape into a field of blue.

I did have tiny setbacks, mostly the occasional hole between colors. When that happened I forced myself to stop, take a breath, unknit, and reknit (and reknit and reknit) until finally the stitches formed properly and the gap disappeared.

After about 20 rows, I was changing colors and organizing the individual balls of yarn without sweating or swearing, and I feel confident enough to tackle the first sleeve on the non-skull skull sweater.

Ah, life's little victories.

Reason #853 Why It Sucks to Be a Male Knitter

So, Mark is knitting the Jesse's Flames sweater from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation, which I've been considering as my next sweater project. The design seems to be freakishly popular - Debbie Stoller and two other people were wearing it during the book signing at Arcadia Knitting, and I've seen it on at least four blogs.

I think that when I knit it, I'm going to change the flame colors to purple and green. It'll be an homage to one of my favorite movie villainesses, Maleficent in the Disney version Sleeping Beauty. My affection for that film has dimmed since kiddiehood, but I still enjoy the scenes in which she flits about like Theda Bara, with the little chorus of goons and that creepy bird.

Of course, if I may soapbox for just a moment, it's no surprise that everybody is knitting that sweater. It's a fun design, for one thing, and it's in a popular book. But more than that - it's a rare example of a men's sweater pattern that a male under the age of 65 who is a not a dork would willingly put on his body.

I keep reading about the Curse of the Love Sweater and I can't help but think that part of the problem comes from the paucity of designs for sweaters a boyfriend would want to wear.

Ladies (for you seem to suffer most from the curse), a tip: Don't make your boyfriend anything (not a mitten, not a scarf, not a sock) that doesn't fit in with the stuff he already owns. A guy who likes to live in faded jeans and beer-stained sweatshirts is not, no matter how much you wish it so, going to jump with joy at the sight of the grandfatherly Aran cardigan you've spent three months creating from handspun whatever-the-hell. Buy him a new sweatshirt and spend the money and time making something for yourself .*

If you are one such lady, you may be thinking, "But I really want to knit him a sweater." Perhaps he has even asked for one. Tough luck. An ugly or unsuitable sweater is no less ugly and no more suitable because you made it. And chances are, you're not going to find a pattern for anything he'd like.

Maybe someday I'll get to a point where I can design things myself. And when I do, I'm going to supplement the 4,456,234 books at Borders that offer patterns for precious lil baby clothes and "fun" felted purses with one volume entitled Sweaters for Young Men Who Live in the City and Are Not Pursuing Careers that Require a Tie and Loafers.

For therein lies the rub. I know from reading (for example) QueerJoe's Knitting Blog that there are wonderful designers like Kaffe Fassett** who are creating men's designs. Problem is, while I love to look at them, I can't wear them. Colorful diamond-patterned cardigans don't go with engineer boots and a biker jacket. I tried the preppy thing for four years at Harvard and discovered that I lack the proper cultural antecedents to carry it off. You could put any of those gorgeous sweaters on me, and I'd make them look dumpy.

The knitting fad 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?

*Unless that something is a poncho, in which case if you even think about it I will break your fingers.
** His needlepoint designs make me sticky wet.


Anonymous said...

I was really enjoying your blog until you had to say that you found a sweater pattern that someone who is "under 65, not a dentist, dork or CPA" can wear...oh well, I am a female CPA, married to a dentist, we are under 65, don't dress like dorks, am totally supportive of alternative lifestyles, and was rather put off by that statement. Its just as bad as being a knitting fiber snob. so much for taking a break from tax season pressure. maybe someday, you too, will meet a hip-er person to work on your teeth and prepare your tax return.

Anonymous said...

oh, please, I hate the phrase "alternative lifestyles."

KristenT said...

I see you took the CPA part out of the dork sentence-- that's good, because not all CPAs are dorks although since my dad is one and so is my brother, I reserve the right to all them dorks. They're cool dorks, though, who race rally cars and enjoy a nice knitted scarf as well as waxing eloquent about the US tax code.

You are, however, quite correct that most knitting patterns for guys are not something most guys would wear... and the Curse is more one of "you didn't know what he would like" and less "he broke up with you because you made him a sweater".

olsonsfoodemporium said...

Quite useful data, thank you for this article.

sghemk said...

Okay. Correct me if I am wrong, but you are now a designer, no? When is the men's book going to hit the shelves???? Please keep the title you had in mind. It's catchy. .... Susan

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