Who's Terry? - Of Men and Garments

Who's Terry?, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.
Start: 14th January 2010
Finish: 21st August 2010
Needles: 3.5 mm and 4 mm Addi Turbo
Yarn: "Saphir" by Bernetta Wolle; 65% new wool, 15% super kid mohair, 20% nylon; Colour #438.02 (beige/natural), dye lot #9006381
Pattern: "Terry's Pullover" by Carol Feller, from Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts 2009
Modification: Knitting the sleeves in the round. I really cannot fathom why the designer knitted the body in the round and knitted the sleeves flat (she said it's easier to join)...but I think that it's kinda nonsense and seaming down the sleeves totally beats the purpose of this otherwise wonderfully seamless construction....because it's obvious that it can be done seamlessly.

Who's Terry?, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.
Before I launch into my tirade about men and garments, let me show you my latest accomplishment (yes, I do use my free time well, when I don't have work).

Sure, I'm a tad late with the shawl collar movement, but frankly, I couldn't find an industry made jumper with a shawl collar that looked good on me and so I kept my hands off from it. That is, until I saw Terry's Pullover.

I just thought that I should give it a try. The pattern is simple enough and I had - back then - recently acquired quite an amount of yarn that would work well with the pattern.

The jumper - as with most of my knitting projects - took a bit of a backseat ride when I started my job. But now that I am currently job-less and have time on my hand, I decided to use the time well and cram out my UFOs/WIPs and do as much as I can with them for the time being. The first serious attack on a project was with the Terry's Pullover, because I was already half-way through the second sleeve and so it seemed sensible that I should finish the project first. Besides, I didn't feel like doing the bulky-weight project or finer gauge projects I have on the needles (which I will do now that "Who's Terry?" is done).

Who's Terry?, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.
There isn't much to say about the pattern. It was pretty clear, safe some particular instructions when it came to the neck opening section with the pattern, because all of the sudden it seemed that the designer (or perhaps the editor?) couldn't be bothered about giving detailed instructions any more and just told you to knit. Not a problem for me, but could very well be a problem for newer knitters. I just winged it as I saw fit.

Two other things that bothered me about this pattern were:

1. The ribbing on the sleeves. There is no mentioning of how you should be starting the ribbing at all. If you weren't careful and look at the photo and started the ribbbing by using the k2, p2 instead of p2, k2; then you will get a very different result. Apart from this, there is also no mentioning about lining up the ribbing on the sleeves with the ribbing on the cuffs at all. I have mentioned these facts on my Ravelry notes....and the designer saw it. She said that she would notify the pattern editors about this. So, I contributed. :-p

2. I seriously cannot understand why the designer decided to knit the sleeves flat. She said that it's easier to join them to the body that way - which I reckon is kinda bogus. Like I mentioned in the pattern notes, knitting the sleeves flat would totally beats the purpose of this wonderfully knit-in-the-round-construction altogether. But hey, whatever gets ya rollin'. I opted to modify and knitted the sleeves in the round instead.

Who's Terry?, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.
As for the yarn itself, I have to admit that I am pretty surprised by it. This is a yarn from a company in Germany that I have never heard of. The yarn was being put on sale, dirt-cheap, last year. So, what was a knitter to do in such a situation? I bought up the whole load of this colourway, which they still had enough to make a jumper and a cardigan (yes, I'm planning to knit Jarrett with the same yarn and colourway).

The yarn itself - 65% virgin wool, 15% super kid mohair, 20% nylon - in a ball was already soft enough. But after having washed the piece, the yarn actually bloomed a bit and became even softer. The only problem I have with the yarn is the super kid mohair content in it, since it sends fibres flurrying around everywhere.

A further downside of this yarn is how it is constructed. It is a loosely two-ply tweed, which blooms after washing. This caused a slight halo to the garment and thus obscure the cable pattern around the neck opening of the jumper. Adding to that, the oatmeal colourway didn't really help with making the cable pops and the very tweedy effect drowns it even further. Nonetheless, I still love the jumper. :-)

Who's Terry?, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.
Now, about men and garments.

Ever since I started knitting jumpers and cardigans, the compliments I received the most is along the line of: "Wow, that fits you really well!"

This brought to my attention the fit of men's garments out there. Particularly, those that are hand-knits.

If you open a pattern book for men, particularly the jumpers; or take a look around on Ravelry to see the sweaters that are knitted for men, what do you see?

Does "potato sack" comes to mind?

Now seriously, the credos that I have read up to this date when it comes to men's garments - or what men like - is that men (supposedly) like to have comfort in the garments they wear, i.e. that they are able to move freely within them; that the garments won't tug and pull when they lift their manly arms, etc. etc. But does that have to translate to wearing a potato sack? I don't think so.

Of course, I cannot speak for all men. And I'm sure that tastes vary very vastly (nice alliteration) when it comes to style and personal taste. But to have space and room and comfort in a garment doesn't mean that you need to leave 20 centimentres chest room in the body of the jumper and an extra 10 cm around the sleeve - especially not when your guy is a stick-figure.

True, I'm lucky to be of a pretty slim/wiry build. I can pretty much wear every style I like in order to accentuate my build. For my personal preference, yes, I like to accentuate it. But sure, you wouldn't want to put some guys who have a belly of a blue whale and squeeze him into a size XXS jumper, would you?

Anyway, leaving body build out of the equation and assuming that your guy is of a regular build, not overly muscular, not fat, not a stick-figure; and let's also say that taste doesn't matter here for the moment, that it's all about just looking good: Surely, you wouldn't want to stick him in a shapeless potato sack.

What I'm saying here is: Try knitting the garments a bit more tailored - keeping the assumptions on body build and taste from the paragraph above in mind. Go down (half) a garment size, or play around with tighter gauge to produce a smaller garment, cast-on less stitches than required (assuming that you aren't going to have to tear your hair out doing some modifications yourself), etc. Then see what comes out of it when you have a more tailored garment knitted, rather than a shapeless, rectangular-looking jumper that will hide any sexy details of yourself or the man you're knitting for. Remember that something knitted slightly smaller can still be blocked out a bit bigger - if it's not all too small in the first place.

Anyhow, that's all I have to say for now about men and garments. Sorry that my thoughts are not well-constructed and doesn't follow a logical trail - my mind is somewhere else at the moment - but I hope that you got the gist of what I was trying to convey. I might come up with more points for future posts, so keep your eyes out for new entries. ;-)


Another fabulous sweater from your needles. It is beautiful. I agree with you about the sleeves being knitted in the round and joined to the body. It makes much more sense - and no sewing. Hope you get a job soon.

PaulJMC's picture

wow - look great. I have this pattern in my list of jumpers to make - you have inspired me - it looks great, and I love the colour yarn you have chosen!!


In cielo non c'e vino...beviamolo sulla terra!

Thinman's picture

You always do beautiful work! I really like the yarn you used. I agree with your rant about the "potato sack" look of sweaters and cardigans. I too am thin, and I'm also very tall (6'5"). Commercial produced garments for tall people are almost always "big & tall", not "svelt & tall". That's one of the main reasons I learned to knit, so I could have a sweater that wasn't a potato sack and still have arms long enough.

TheKnittingMill's picture

The jumper looks amazing Victor and it's photographed beautifully as usual. I like the yarn you used and think it would look great for Jarrett--I love that pattern. I totally hear you about the "potato sack" fit. I don't get it either, as it's relatively easy to alter/customize most patterns. I always have to taper my sweaters in the waist and allow at least 2-3 inches of ease in the chest and shoulders. If not I look like a newby homo who raided his little sister's closet for a shirt before going to the club--not a good look for me.

d_alienation's picture

It looks SO great! And like loads of fun to put time into it!
I'm going to jump into all the jumper section of knitting, and I think this might just be the one to start with!