As a male knitter, the biggest frustration is patterns. When you walk into a knitting shop and look at patterns, you'll find approximately thirty-seven billion patterns for women and children, and four for men: one sweater, one pair of socks, one hat and one scarf. This is only a slight exaggeration. The same holds true for books in any given bookstore: hundreds for women, one (or zero) for men.

When presented with T The Knitting Man(ual), I admit to some skepticism. I'd seen books of knitting patterns for men written by women (most of whom wrote the patterns for what they'd like to see on the men in their lives or even what they'd like to knit for the men in their lives and then steal to wear) that left me feeling the entire range of emotions from mild disappointment to full-on disdain. To say that I'm a skeptic about certain subjects would be like saying that the surface of the sun is a little warm.

The Knitting Man(ual) is a great collection. The introduction is a fun read; the techniques section is mercifully short and concise. And then there's the patterns themselves.  Classic styling, good-to-fantastic instructions and charts, very little confusion (admittedly, I was thrown off by the picture for the Seaweed Throw vs. the chart -- the photo shows the throw turned at a 90 degree angle to the chart; turn one sideways), and wonderful color choices for the knitted models make this book a good choice for all knitters.

Admittedly, there are some patterns that didn't thrill me (such as the Saturday Morning Slippers), but then there were some delightful (and I don't use that word often) surprises, like the Everyday Sweater. That little flash of color in an otherwise solid sweater is a wonderful touch that makes it less boring to knit a plain-colored stockinet sweater.

One of the best features of this book is that a good portion of the patterns have multiple variations. The Nordic Hat has three different versions. The Hiking Socks have two separate lengths, complete with the bare minimum of instruction on how to change them to make them bigger. The Classic Socks are fantastic, with two different versions, a plain-color textured version and a multicolored striped version. I'm a sucker for texture, and the bias ribbing on the calf of these socks is fun and isn't just a plain stockinet tube.

Kristin Spurkland has put together a strong, masculine collection of patterns that male knitters and female knitters alike can appreciate and enjoy. The colors are bold; the yarn selections are thoughtful both in feel and price. The textures will keep interest focused on the design, the construction, and (ultimately) the person wearing the garment. The designs are classic and very male. If you knit for men, this book would be a very good selection for your knitting library and will hold your interest for a good long time.


~review by Jeremy Bredeson

Author: Kristin Spurkland

Ten Speed Press, 2007

pp. 128, $24.95