Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Knitting Life

It took me a while to buy the new Interweave Knits because the first copies to arrive at the bookstore near my office were all, inexplicably, sealed in plastic. I wondered (hoped?) whether this indicated scandalous content within–perhaps a centerfold featuring John Brinegar supine on a pile of Jaeger.

The reviews began to show up online and were so positive that I hope Pam Allen et al. opened a bottle of something nice. In case you haven't noticed, knitters are not the easiest bunch to please. I don't know whence came the image of the daft little old lady smiling benignly at the world over her needles, because even since the demise of You Knit What?, make one false move and you're chum.

When I finally got to flip through an unsealed copy (and yes, I did buy it) I was disappointed that there were no naked men. On the other hand, there are several striking designs and two that are gorgeous (Eunny, honey, you're really giving She Who Litigates in Scottish Courts a run for her money). And then there's the men's sweater.

Now, this is not going to be a scathing write-up of the men's sweater. When you're putting your own stuff out there every day, honestly it becomes a little harder to flippantly write things like, "Wow! What a piece of shit!" Also, whenever I start to feel really poisonous I see my mother's disapproving countenance rising up before my eyes and saying "Play nice or you're going home!" and it kills the mood.

I want to write about this sweater because if, on the off chance that anybody who publishes patterns might be reading, I'd like to pass on some comments of my own–as well as one given at last night's Stitches in Britches meeting.

First of all, the model is completely cute should feel free to write to me at any time. However, I am going to assume that the sweater was intended for somebody rather larger. Here's why: look at a) the neckline and b) the waistline.

I am absolutely certain that the designer could not have intended the neckline to be so broad that it's mere inches from slipping off the fellow's pretty shoulders. Nor could she have jumped up from a deep sleep and shouted "Eureka! I've figured out how to make a normal-sized head look freakishly small!"

And there is no way any designer who's going to show up in IK would intentionally put an innocent male model into a knitted minidress, which is what this is. Imagine it belted, with some good silk stockings and a pair of kitten heels. See? You could wear it to a gallery opening.

But on a man, unless he has had his ass surgically removed, what you've got is a too-long sweater that will either bunch up over his butt while covering his crotch; or cover and accentuate whatever junk is in his trunk in a most unflattering dog-under-a-blanket sort of way.

Now, I know a lot of women who like this length, because it can smooth the transition from midriff to the lower regions and possibly look slimming. However, this is not how men's sweaters should look, at least not if you want men to wear them without hating you. A man's waistline should be at his waist. Not above, not below.

As the designer undoubtedly knew this, I am going to shake my stubby finger at whoever arranged and/or styled this shoot, and the person in editorial who let it run. Listen, IK, you are one of the only knitting magazines I enjoy and I know you can do better. This sweater needed a guy about a foot taller and, judging from the size of the yoke and collar, about a foot wider. A tall order, perhaps, but honestly...don't show a garment if you can't show it off at its best. It's not nice for the model and it's not nice for the designer who worked so hard to please you.

Also it encourages the men I knit with to say it ought to be called the Sphincter Sweater because that's what that yoke looks like on a too-small model. And the men I knit with, they know from sphincters.

Sock News

I finished knitting the first cabled sock and will show you a picture as soon as I can be bothered to take one.

The 2007 Ornament

The successor to last year's elf is this tiny Ode to Peace is nearly ready for the shop. Here's a sneak preview. (Note: it's up...and it looks like for a short time CafĂ© Press is offering it at a discount. They control these things, I don't–so I'm not sure how long the deal will last.)

Ornament Prototype

Of course, after the reaction to the last post I'm sorry I didn't draw them peeing on one another.


Cheryl:) said...

I am sure John would happily give you a private viewing.

As for the sphincter sweater! Oh my glory I love the name you picked for it. My favorite feature, which you may not have noticed, is that it is REVERSIBLE!!!!
Now does that mean front to back? or inside out??? (wonder if it's flame retardant as well...we can only hope)

Thanks for making me laugh today...I needed it.

Rebekkah said...

IK so often dresses their male models in sweaters that are extraordinarily big on them. Either they need to get larger models, or ask designers to knit their samples in smaller sizes. I've found this to consistently be a problem, which is a shame, because there are some patterns that could potentially be flattering and popular if they came anywhere near the ballpark of fitting the model correctly.

Kathleen said...

I don't really know anything about IK or men in sweaters. But loved your write that didn't quite tell them they stunk! :)

As mom to two tall (both 6'4") (one large (230), one not so large (135)) young men, I was particularly intrigued by this comment: A man's waistline should be at his waist. Not above, not below. At what point will the young men in my life agree with you!??? :)

Love the new ornament! Thanks for the sneak peak!

Anonymous said...

"And the men I knit with, they know from sphincters.'

Easily the quote of the day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for verifying my opinion of the sweater in IK. IK (and other publications) has/ve been modeling items which fit horribly on said models and which are a real turn-off in many directions, not the least of which is wanting to knit them!!!

Jenna said...

This seems to be a consistent problem in IK. I love the Rambling Rose Cardi in that issue, but it's clearly so small on the model, she can't button it over her breasts.

I saw some of the sweaters for this issue at Stiches a few weeks ago (the men's one wasn't there), and they were all in tiny sizes. On the other hand, I know IK makes an effort to have the models be real people (staff members' family, etc). While that's commendable, they need to try to match the model with the design earlier and have the sample made to that person's size. Otherwise, the garment looks unflattering, no one wants it and fewer magazines are sold.

Aidan said...

While I'm not going to divulge any purported knowledge of sphincters, I stand in complete support of your corrents regarding the sweater. Also, I feel fairly certain Julia Roberts wore a similar sweater with hip-high boots in Pretty Woman. But it was the '80s, and mini-sweater-dresses were in style. And that model was no Julia Roberts. I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

The sphincter sweater, in that colour; the images that calls to mind are a little boggling.
Thanks for enlightening me as to what (or who) happened to 'You Knit What?'.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh! I will forever call any sweater that looks remotely like the sweater in question a Sphincter Sweater

miastick said...

I wish I knew what sphincter means. Anyway, I think that he looks cute! And that guys in oversized sweaters are sexy!

jillian said...

Way to work "junk in his trunk" as well as "sphincter" into a post - an extra dose of funny! Oh goodness.

Mel said...

The first thing I usually do when we get the latest IK is loook to see what they've put in for the gentlemen, and I, too, was less than whelmed. I agree on the size thing and would have liked to have seen the reverse side of the sweater, but still, "sphincter" is rather appropriate for the impression it gave.

As for the model, I'm sure they picked him just for MY viewing pleasure. MINE!! And if they really love me they'll start putting him in there as much as the red-headed woman. Are you listening Ann Budd?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, both on the lack of naked men in the issue AND the man's sweater. My husband felt the stitch design was really cool, but had problems with the neckline. It made this adorable model look slope-shouldered. Which he most certainly is not.

P.S. Does the word verification for this site always have "gaay" in it?

Anonymous said...

I looked at that sweater and thought of a former roommate of mine who always wore his pants just below the knee and his shirts below his non-existant rear end. He had a cough syrup thing too. This sweater seems to have been designed exclusively for him. I wonder if he knits.

Carol said...

~snort~ OK, I didn't get my copy yet, but I have a feeling I'll be laughing alot when I do. Love the ornament! And after your review, makes me think: Fleece on earth, good knits for men...just sayin'

Anonymous said...

I read this post while on a break at work today, and I knew that I'd bought the magazine and looked at it, because I liked the stole by Donna Druchunas. But I couldn't remember the sweater you've written about. Even the references to sphincters didn't joggle anything.

Now I'm home from work and looking at it again, and I know why I couldn't remember it.

Anonymous said...

I think we all agree that male sweater models should just take off all their clothes and simply point to the sweater. Much better for everyone.

Anonymous said...

That red sweater in IK is precisely the reason why I jealously guard my Vogue Knitting magazines from long (ahem) long ago. One example: Holiday 1986. I realize this is from the dreaded 1980s, but featured on the pages are: Perry Ellis pullover with Celtic cables down the arms and edges of the chest; a gorgeous '40s Austrian ski look cross neck pullover in three different shades of blue, basketweave pullover plus three other pullovers in various stitches or multicolors. Gorgeous stuff. In the fall and winter editions, Vogue used to always have at least 4-6 sweaters, but no more. The last time VK featured men's sweaters was their Men's Special Collector's Issue from 2002. I suppose we should feel somewhat grateful that IK gives it "the old college try", but after seeing THAT sweater, I'm not sure sure the word "grateful" applies.

Anonymous said...

Marcy's comment about cough syrup man reminds me of a former colleague who wore his sweaters tucked into his jeans and worked through a daily quart of green gatorade at his side of our "partner desk". feh! That shade of green gives me the willies 15 years later.

I agree about IK's man problem--any of you beautiful guys ready to volunteer as designer/knitter/model?

Jude in obscureknitty

Anonymous said...

Obviously his head is so tiny, because it's just been squeezed through the Sphincter Sweater, no?


Anonymous said...

When the lion lies down with the lamb...and they just happen to both be knitters. You rock! I just ordered 4.

dragon knitter said...

ewwwwwww golden showers!

Anonymous said...

That sweater is reversible because it could also become a pair of MC Hammer pants. Thought I believe Mr. Hammer favored satin over wool.
I bet IK would sell tons more issues if the sweaters fit and the models were pantless.

Anonymous said...

You'd think with all the news and pseudo-news accounts of the obesity epidemic which is assaulting virtually everyone in the world these days that IK could have found a model with a bit of girth just about anywhere. Men and women of size would have applauded them all over the fruited plain for their choice. You're right: It's not the designer's fault the sweater looks like shit. Good call.

Anonymous said...

Sphincter sweater! I just choked on my Earl Grey...

junior_goddess said...

I've been looking for designs to knit for my DH, and I totally agree with you. That sweater is so NOT good-looking. And I've noticed IWK that IWK makes some poor styling choices. In particular, look at the poor redhead in Glasgow Lace from the fall issue. That's a MODEL looking dumpy.

I also think that some men's sweater patterns are just women's sweaters made larger. You and I are about the same height, but I EXPECT a man's sweater to have a deeper armhole and 2" more length to get a good fit. And I have noticed several that don't. I think that a man's sweater should be ever so slightly smaller at the waist, just to help build the ideal silhouette of broad shoulders, narrow waist. Y'all like to strut your stuff too!

Aidan said...

I looked at the bonus photo Ticky Tricot suggested, and I don't think it looks any better than the first. Maybe more like a placenta instead of a sphincter, but let's face you really want to look at either across the breakfast table?

There is really absolutely no way that neckline would look good on a guy. None. Maybe Jennifer Beals circa 1983, but not a guy.

And I can't help but wonder what it looks like reversed...a hemorrhoid?

The problem isn't the model. And it isn't the photographer. And it isn't the art director. The problem, in my opinion -- and I don't claim to speak for all knitters -- is that patterns for men today are, by and large, ill concieved and poorly written afterthoughts. There are no writers out there today who approach designing patterns for men in a thoughtful manner, creating proportions and sillouettes which are both wearable and complimentary to a man's body.

Anonymous said...

Well, I didn't notice anything really off about the sweater, surrounded as I am by undergrads. The same with the impossible-to-button rambling rose. So knit one smaller for the man in your life and one larger for the woman. I am, however, not going to tell the DH about a reversible feature. He might conclude it will only have to be washed half as often...

Sherry W said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for that post. I, too, was bemused/horrified by that sweater. Your comments, as they usually are, were pointed yet respectful to the designer. Hopefully someone at IK will read them and learn something!

I'm always on the lookout for good men's sweaters to knit for my son and this one was a joke, IMO. There are so few good men's patterns--maybe in a future post you could help us find them? Mary B

Sherry W said...

Everyone is dying over this IK, and really I didn't see anything so fabu I wanted to knit it NOW. I think last issue was better, for me at least.

I like Enid, but it has the weird boat neckline like the sphincter sweater. I just think it's a bad neckline for a winter sweater. I want to be warm everyplace but my neck? Oh wait, talk about cold necks, how about that corded yoke thing? Gack!

Liz said...

Totally agree on the sweater. I suggest checking out the Spartan Sweater in Fall 2006 and Cambridge jacket in Summer 2006 in Interweave. Both are far more tailored.

Anonymous said...

random information about that men's sweater - I read on the website of the store owned by the designer that it was originally designed as a woman's sweater. Whether IK decided the change or the designer did, I'm not sure, but it's an interesting tidbit of info, I think.

dpaste said...

Very sweet ornament design. Not that I would ever have a use for one.

Peeing on each other. It is to laugh.

I find it unsettling that Mia does not know what a sphincter is, considering that her life must be rather challenging if she does not possess one herself.

beadlizard said...

Men in Knits addresses, somewhat, what a man wants in a sweater, but it's more from a woman's POV. Her sweaters droop. Some nice ones, but all need tweaking.

I prefer the fit of the garments in Knitting with Balls, though there are other quibbles with that book.

I would think that wearing a long sweater would wreak havoc with taking a leak? --Sylvia

Anonymous said...

As soon as I saw this issue of IK (it wasn't in plastic where I got it), I loved it. I immediately wanted to knit almost everything in it and ran out and got yarn for multiple berets. But when I saw the man sweater, I thought "What were they thinking?". Perhaps you are correct in that it just doesn't fit him right.

As for your new holiday drawing, "aw".

Ethan said...

"John Brinegar supine on a pile of Jaeger" made me chuckle.

"Sphincter Sweater" made me laugh out loud.

But damn you, "And the men I knit with, they know from sphincters." made me snort Diet Pepsi out my nose.

You make my day as always!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree about the men's sweater. It is rediculous. Some of the ladies in my group opened to it and loved it, I on the other hand somewhere in the depths of my mind was thinking sphincter also, though it didn't come out as more than an unflattering potato sack from me. Cheers for the description my brain lacked!

Anonymous said...

Definitely a Sphincter Sweater. I think part of the problem is that it is reversible, with a big yoke instead of shaped shoulders and a classic crew neckline, so it droops and hangs strangely. Add to that the extra length and bagginess and you have a schmatte.

Love the new ornament!

Marlena said...

I had to literally put my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing (as I am currently reading this at work). What they did to that model was criminal, but I feel even worse for the guys who will have that sweater foisted upon them as a gift. Perhaps sweaters like that is why guys came up with "The Sweater Curse." (I feel the whole curse thing was created by men who were tired of receiving ill-fitting, ugly garments.)

Unknown said...

too funny. Obviously poorly chosen model . . . don't they know that swatching goes for the models too?

Tomme said...

The ornament is great. Ordered 3. Wish it came on a mug. Glad they're not peeing on each other. (smile)

thalassophile said...

Whimsy, pure and simple. Your ornament makes me smile.

Debi said...

The issue was pretty good all in all except for two glaring boners...the Retrograde as you've so eloquently described and the Rabling is way too big and the other, way too small. Both might have been passable designs if they were on modela who were actually the right side...what a waste!

Anonymous said...

And you know, 4 blocks from the beach in a couple bring the lotion. I'll bring the Jaeger.

Anonymous said...

and the lion and the lamb shall hang next to the elf. and it is good.

thanks for helping me decorate my tree!

Anonymous said...

Saw the sphincter sweater. I sure it generated envy from some turtles. Otherwise just made the model look like a bad "photoshop" paste up.

BTW, I collect Lions and Lambs and your ornament is on its way to my house.

Peace and garter stitch, and thanks. (Next time they can pee on each other. Bonding, you know.


Manon C. said...

My husband is 5'7" (stretching him a bit) and has weighed 140 lbs. for all his adult life, take or leave a couple of pounds. (he is now 62, and unlikely to change). Every time I find a nice sweater to knit him, I have to adjust the length and the width of the sweater, and the length of the sleeves. When there are some unisex sweaters (doesn't happen too often) that would actually suit a man, I will knit him the women's large to medium size. Why do all knitting magazines assume all men are huge (length and widthwise), have arms the length of an orang-outang, and want to wear sweaters that float on them? My husband likes his sweaters fitted (not tight) and doesn't want the sleeves to reach the middle of his hand. Is it too much to ask? And for those readers out there who think it's a gay thing to want fitted sweaters, no, it's not. Case in point. It's a style thing. And no insult intended to any sexual preference... If a man is on the small side (and again, I am not trying to be derogatory), he looks like he is wearing his older brother's clothes when he wears clothes that float on him. And yes, that man's sweater in IK is hideous, big or not.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is obviously a "girlfriend" sweater, one that you ostensibly knit for the man in your life, intending to wear it yourself on mornings when you want to look like you tumbled out of bed and put on your (enormous) man's sweater and went to pick up the Sunday Times.....duh!

Seriously, my first thought was that I would like the sweater but could not think of any males - straight or gay - of my acquaintance that would touch it!

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