Where to look for slim-fitting men's knitting patterns
August 14, 2014 5:07 AM   Subscribe

My mother-in-law is a prolific knitter, and I'd like to get her to knit me a pullover for winter. Trouble is, most home-made knitwear tends towards the baggy, which looks ridiculous on me - I wear a European size slim fit small for most tops. Is there anywhere online I can search for knitting patterns that won't look like a tent one me?
posted by primer_dimer to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ravelry is the Facebook for knitters, except better, because it has a near comprehensive database of patterns :) If she doesn't know it already, you should point it to her.

That said, it's not that most homemade knitwear tends to the baggy, it's that a lot of knitters have no idea how to fit a garment.
posted by snakeling at 5:15 AM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

I agree with snakeling's assessment of why homemade knitwear often doesn't fit -- does your MIL have experience with fitted garments? Blocking is also an absolute must for something that's going to be worn. You might also like to specify that you'd like it knit with a relatively fine weight yarn, as the chunkier you get with most fibre, the less tension you'll have, and the more shapeless it will feel.
posted by catch as catch can at 5:22 AM on August 14, 2014

Best answer: Look at Brooklyn Tweed patterns -- their men's collection has a lot of nice, slim knits.

One thing to keep in mind: slim, thin knits are made out of thinner yarns, so they can take a lot longer to knit -- and sweaters are always a big time investment. If your MIL offers to do this, treat the finished knit as if it was worth several hundred dollars, because it is :)
posted by third word on a random page at 5:25 AM on August 14, 2014 [11 favorites]

Here's a Ravelry search for all the male pullover patterns in the database. The database is not 100% accurate, as you can see by the results, but it's a good place to get started on looking at the sort of thing you might like.

You can further refine that sort to look at only patterns that are tagged as fitted, but fit is a tag not every pattern properly carries, so while it gets you more focused results, it's probably also eliminating a lot of options that would work.

Like the posts above, I agree that this is not a problem with knitting but with knitters and that you should look for patterns written in sport or even fingering weight, rather than heavier yarns.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:30 AM on August 14, 2014

Yeah, agreed with the above that Brooklyn Tweed (it's a he, Jared Flood, not a they, unless he's expanded) is the pattern maker to start with.
posted by The Michael The at 5:51 AM on August 14, 2014

(Brooklyn Tweed publishes the works of designers other than Jared Flood in many of their collections.)
posted by jacquilynne at 5:57 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You should also consider a custom-fit type pattern where you basically plug in your measurements and the yarn details to get a very specific fit. They tend to be plain pullovers, but knit in a very nice yarn or with simple colourwork like stripes, can be very goodlooking.

Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan is one, or any of the sweater patterns by Elizabeth Zimmerman can work. Also, you could buy her a copy of Knitting from the top-down, the classic guide to customfit sweaters of all sorts.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:02 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with the others it's a question of knitting the garment to fit the wearer, but the patterns themselves play a part, too. When did your MIL learn to knit? I notice that pattern books from the 80's and even up to the early 90's feature huge baggy tent-like sweaters. If those are the type of handknit sweaters she "imprinted" on, it may be difficult to get her to knit you a slim-fitting sweater.

Also, how experienced is she with knitting custom-fitted garments? Is she somebody who is used to taking measurements of the intended recipient and determine which pattern size to go with for the desired ease, or calculate the appropriate numbers? Or is she somebody who enjoys knitting one size fits all type items? If she will regard knitting a fitted pullover as an enjoyable challenge, I'd say point her to the resources people have mentioned above. But if she will regard it as a pain, then maybe consider asking for a different knit item.
posted by needled at 6:34 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A design element that's really common in knitting patterns is to knit a ribbing on the bottom with smaller needle, and then switch to stockinette (what a non-knitter would describe as "plain" knitting) and a larger needle size. One way to achieve a slender fit is by making the ribbing a design element that goes throughout the sweater pattern and not changing needle sizes, so you don't get that mushroomy look. My husband has similar sizing preferences so it's a thing I pay attention to in patterns. In addition to Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed, I have several designs by Todd Gocken in my Ravelry favorites list, and you can see how he uses ribbing that runs up the length of the body and other techniques that avoid that ribbing-on-the-bottom thing.

Knitting stretches a lot, and one thing you might want to look at or ask the mother in law about is the idea of "ease". Some sweaters are designed to have considerable ease, so that if a sweater says "for someone with a 36-inch chest measurement", it is intended to be 40 inches around. If you like a slender fit you might prefer zero or even negative ease, similar to how hats and socks typically fit. Measure some sweaters you like, and this will help your MIL figure out what size to make.

Lastly, as mentioned upthread, you'll probably want something knit in a thinner yarn, which means more stitches and more time. Be very, very grateful. :)
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:38 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Introduce your mother to Fit to Flatter principles. While the sweaters Amy designs are for women, her principles on how to measure and compensate to obtain the perfect fit are applicable to both men and women.
posted by francesca too at 7:12 AM on August 14, 2014

Best answer: Josh Bennett also designs some very, very nice fitted men's jumpers.
posted by kariebookish at 7:50 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you've got a jumper that fits you well, let her measure it. It'll give her a good idea about the fit you want, and help her choose the right size.
posted by kjs4 at 6:51 PM on August 14, 2014

Response by poster: Many thanks for all the great answers and links, I knew mefi's knitters wouldn't let me down!
posted by primer_dimer at 7:22 AM on August 15, 2014

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