With the thousands and thousands of knitting patterns out there, it seems impossible that there's a shortage of quality patterns for any segment of the population, but as my babies (too quickly) get older, I find there actually is: boys.
There are lots and lots of adorable knits for babies and toddlers, and a fair few patterns for little girls, but unique, well-written patterns for little boys are hard to find. (I'm not sure why this is, but I don't see any need to speculate--just to remedy!)
So earlier this year I was quite excited to get my hands on Kate Oates' new book, Knits for Boys. Not only does the book include 27 sweater and accessory patterns for young men, but it also boasts some "grow with me" tips as well--if you've ever knit a sweater for a child who outgrew it the next day, you know how promising that sounds! Kate has four little boys, so I'm confident she knows what she's talking about.
The garments in the book are generally sized from 4-12 (so my boys aren't quite there yet, but they will be all too soon), but Kate also talks you through how to make adjustments to various parts for improved fit--for example, if your sweater doesn't fit over a bulbous head, or you'd like to raise or lower a neckline.
Boys are so active (JJ is currently bouncing up and down on his armchair while scream-singing "Diego! Diego! Go, Diego, go!"), they tend to grow up much more quickly than out, so Kate's grow-with-me tips focus on how to build extra growing room into your sweater without it looking ill-fitting.
She's also included an amazing section on customization where she explains how to add special details like pockets and hoods, and photo tutorials for a few special techniques she uses, like zipper installation.
And all of this before you even get to the really good stuff: the patterns!
(And speaking of patterns, while this book is called Knits for Boys, I think the majority of the patterns are really unisex, and would work equally well for girls.)
The accessories in here are a kind of hit or miss for me, but I really love most of the garments, so I'll just show you a few of my favorites:
Prepster Vest: I would wear this!
Imagination Sweater: so many possibilities
Jake Jacket: love the textured body paired with contrast trim
Caden Vest: boys can wear fun patterns too!
Big Bad Vest: this might be what becomes of my frogged Deep V Argyle Vest
Jesse Half-Zip: so sophisticated for a little guy
The reason I waited so long to post this review is that I wanted to actually knit--or at least start knitting--one of the patterns first. So I'm excited to share the progress I've made on the Jesse Half-Zip:
I'm knitting this for JJ. The smallest size given is a 5, which is big for him at the moment, but I went down a needle size to make it a bit smaller, and I'm happy to have him grow into it. I'm knitting this up in The Fibre Company Cumbria, their newest yarn, a blend of merino, masham and mohair wools. It's not super soft, but seems sturdy, with a subtle halo. I love the muted blue green (Windermere).
The cables are easy to memorize, and the only problem I've run into so far is that the Crossover Rib used at the hem is an 8 stitch repeat, but the cast-on for this sleeve size is not divisible by 8. You could easily just deal with the repeat being a bit uneven, but I opted to CO 4 extra stitches, and then work fewer increases on the sleeve because I'm kind of neurotic that way.
I'm getting close to the tricky part: the zipper. I've never done a zipper before, and am quite nervous. Fortunately, the zipper installation tutorial is right in the book, so I don't even have to drive myself crazy searching for one online and then trying to guess which will work best! First, though, I actually need to buy a zipper. The local craft stores have a very limited selection, so it looks like I'll be shopping online.
If you knit for small people, I think Knits for Boys is great investment, and given the number of patterns and the instructional information included, it's a steal at $22. Grab a copy right away!
All photos courtesy of Kate Oates.
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