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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Boys Knits by Katya Frankel

Do you ever knit for boys? Have you got sons, grand-sons or nephews? Then you may have noticed the lack of designs for boys in knitting magazines. I'm not sure why this is but Katya Frankel is tackling the problem. I've known Katya online for a while now. We've been published in the same magazines for the last few years but at Woolfest this year I got the chance to meet Katya in real life and she's such a lovely person and I've always admired her designs.

I'm not very good at knitting for other people. Knitting takes a lot of time and effort and I don't want to knit for someone who's not going to appreciate it. Also, at the moment there's the small question of time. Knitting for kids is challenging. Although the garments are smaller you still want to make sure they're going to like it and wear it, especially when they reach that age where they don't necessarily want to wear what you want them to wear. 

Being the mother of two teenage daughters, i can't say that I'm an expert at knitting for boys but i have noticed the lack of good designs out there specifically aimed at boys. Quite often what knitters want to knit and what our loved ones will wear are very different. When I heard Katya was working on a book of boys' knits and I was intrigued and I'm thrilled to be included in her book tour.

 I've got 4 nephews. The oldest two are university age but my Norwegian nephews are 5 and 8 years old. I've never knitted for them (apart from one scarf for the oldest one when he was 2 yrs old). When I saw Katya's book I felt the urge to knit them something though. I keep looking through the designs and try to imagine what they may like. The problem is I don't have much time and I don't see them very often so knowing exactly what kind of clothes they like isn't easy. But the designs in this book are so wearable and I think the boys would like any of them. 
 I asked Katya a few questions about why she decided to write this book and how she worked on it.

Katya: Starting such a big project it was important to be organised from the beginning. At first I concentrated on the breakdown of patterns by their techniques, yoke styles and yarn weights/composition, since having a good balance of all of the above in a book is important to me. 
 But before diving in and finalising the designs for the book I spent a lot of time talking to my friends kids to find out about the clothes they wear. Whether they go shopping with their parents or are picking their clothes themselves? Do they like what they get? Styles, colours, pet hates, I tried to find out as much as possible. It was really interesting to get the answers directly from the boys rather than the parents and then see what the parents thought about those answers. 

I think asking the kids what clothes they like is a great idea. Quite often we'll ask parents about what their kids are likely to want/like but there's nothing like asking the kids themselves.
 After the interviews I sat down with a blue print of basic sketches and started adding small details, stitch patterns, finding the right yarns that would add to the look I was going for and emphasise its details and so on. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to make the parents' tastes and wants meet their kids'. And from the feedback we got so far, I think I got it right. 

There was much reworking of the designs to get the right look and the feel just right. I think that's what I was working towards while pairing the sweaters with the yarns - trying to capture my original vision.

Any particular challenges with knitting for boys? I don't think knitting for boys is particularly difficult, or different from knitting for girls for that matter. The only rule is, you have to listen to what they ask for and try your best not to convince them that they'll look fab in green if what they want is an orange jumper for example. Or that cables are much more fun to knit than Stocking stitch if all they want is a plain jumper. :-)

If you are not used to knitting for children then there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
a) they are all different size, this may seem obvious but bear with me. Just like when knitting for an adult, it's important to select the correct size by the child's measurements rather than size/age reference. 

b) kids grow. So generally, when knitting for a child you'd want to make sure they don't burst out of the sweater too quickly. There is quite a lot of information in the book about the fit and how to choose the correct size, how to make minor adjustments to patterns and things to keep in mind when making those adjustments.  

This book can be purchased as an e-book and print book and has 16 designs. The book has a great technique section and suggestions for how to alter the length of the garment. Every pattern has schematics so you can easily work out how best to alter length etc if needed.

Now I just need to decide which patterns I will attempt to knit my nephews for Christmas and how i'll find the time.

Check out the other stops on the Boys Knits blog tour.


Sea said...

It isn't just a dearth of teenage boys knitting patterns, it is EVERYWHERE!
Up to around 10-11 there is a wealth of clothes for all children, boys included, and after that I think you are supposed to push your boys into a cupboard under the stairs until they are full grown adults....that is unles you wish to raise track-suit wearing youths.
My two boys and I muddled through, but is was not easy. The whole 10-16 boy clothes market needs addressing

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment and it's not much better for teenage girls unless you want them to dress like 'whoever the latest scantily dressed popstar is'. My girls live in jeans & hoodies. Fortunately they're quite keen to keep their bodies covered.

I think the whole teenage clothing market needs a re-think. Not all kids want to dress like what my kids would call 'chavs' ... not 100% sure what that is though. I feel old! lol.