As I watch Kate’s family of boys grow I’ve been amazed at how much she’s been able to do while they were still all so small. Her family has had such a big influence on her design career; with a large number of her designs for little boys I wanted to pick her brain about knitting for boys. My own 4 fall in and out of love with knitwear as their personal tastes and style change and I wanted to get her perspective on knitting for boys.
Her newest book ‘Knits for Boys, 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks’ is beautifully laid out, the tutorials are clear and easy to follow, a new-to-me method of installing a zip was included. The first chapter also has tips on knitting for children, how to allow for growth. The patterns come in a range of sizes from ages 4-12 with a big variety of styles.
So now for a few questions for Kate:
1. What is your own experience of sizing for children? How much extra growing room do you include for your children? Any tips to ensure that they don’t just look over-sized?
This is sort of the basis for the Grow-With-Me section of the book! I really am not a fan of giant over-sized look so that’s what led me to start exploring and learning about how to get extra wear time but in a better way. I learned that children tend to grow up much more quickly than they grow out so you’ll be surprised at the bonus longevity you can get out of a garment if you can manage to add some length.
2. In the 80s the style for children was really wide and short. Fortunately children’s knitting patterns seem to be in more realistic sizes now! With adult garments the amount of ease depends on both the style and personal preference. What amount of ease do you think works well for children’s clothes?
My personal preference is between 2-4 inches and this does depend on the age of the child. A baby’s chest circumference is much smaller than a 10 year old’s…so 2 inches works a lot better proportionally. If its too huge, it’s hard for them to move. I lean more towards 3 inches as they get older.
3. Do your boys get much of a chance to wear the knits in everyday wear? If they do, what do they enjoy wearing every day? When you were designing the book did they have some input (helpful or otherwise!).
Ugh. My kids LOVE wearing handknits. Unfortunately we kind of have the cobbler’s kids thing going on right now in my household. You would think they own closets full of knits but sadly, so much of what I knit now goes to trunk shows that they don’t often get new stuff. This summer though I have decided they are getting some new stuff. However, for the 1-2 items they do each have, they pretty much wear it at every opportunity. It’s quite hot where we live most of the year, so that’s one reason why I have designed some knits that work for warmer weather too. With regards to their input, YES they love giving me direction! They can be brutally honest about colors or fit.
4. Somewhat tied to the last question, they go for colors or texture?
Both! My oldest is more into color and kid number two is extremely tactile and loves a squishy texture pattern. Fortunately for them, I love working both cables and colorwork so I’m happy to do both of these techniques!
5. In my experience children love comfort in their clothes. Any hint of scratch and they’ll refuse to put it on, even if it’s a badly inserted clothes tag. How do you suggest knitters choose children’s yarn so it’s both comfortable and durable for children?
I totally agree with this. There are so many nice and cozy yarns out there right now, so many options that my kids are pleased with. I was really picky about the yarns I used in the book and highly recommend all of them for wearabilty. To really get an idea for how the finished project is going to turn out, work up a swatch and wash it the finished piece will be laundered. Then, see how nice and soft it is! A lot of yarns will soften up a bit after blocking.
6. I love your colorwork designs for children, they’re bright and fun and feel like they’re made for living. Do you have some favourite color combinations that you used for this book?
Orange is one of my favorite colors. I really had fun with the entire Imagination Sweater, using tons of different combos. I love Navy and Orange and also Purple and Orange (though I admit this could be influenced by my alma mater, Clemson University). The other thing I really like doing is putting unexpected colors together. I like putting shades of colors that are next to each other on the color wheel together, like blue and green or orange and yellow. I don’t think it always has to be high contrast.
7. When knitting sweaters do you have a construction type that works best for kids? Is it easy to modify for different children shapes?
I think a top down raglan is probably the easiest. It’s easy to add an extra increase just in the sleeves if a child has larger arms or just wants more room there. And it’s also very easy to add length anywhere it is necessary.
8. You’ve got a great size range for the knits in the book from 4-12 years. You’ve opted to not include smaller sizes, was the baby/toddler sizing range has a different number of design considerations?
This is a great question that I don’t think I have answered yet! There were definitely design considerations–I find that baby sizes often need to include instructions for buttoned necklines because the head proportion to the body is a bit different. Also in a lot of my super extended size range patterns, there are lots of “baby sizes only” or “child sizes only” instructions that are separated out. Since the book really was geared to BOY rather than BABY, I chose to keep the instructions more simplified and really focus on the book’s main audience, who I tend to think is underrepresented compared to baby boy.
9. When knitting the book what design did you enjoy knitting the most? And what one did the kids not want to hand back!!
Oh gosh there are a few of these. Probably my favorite to knit was the Imagination Sweater. A friend of mine actually worked up the Jesse Half-Zip sweater sample, otherwise that probably would be up there also. I love cables. Oh and the Houndstooth Vest, loved that one also. As for the kids, The T-Rex Graphic Pullover, Imagination Sweater and Jesse Half-Zip are all favorites…they must take after me. We seem to share favorites!
Ok everyone, now that you’re drooling over all the little boys knits, what would you knit for your son (or daughter?) first? Give your choice in the comments and I’ll pick a winner of the giveaway on Monday 30th March. (US residents only I’m afraid on this giveaway.)