Realistically, I suppose it’s unfair to call a writing day and a day off running errands and pouring over next season’s stock a respite, but I’m used to having to be much more… on. The opportunity to roam around in my own head has been quite a treat. It’s a bit dusty in there, but I’ve been pulling sheets off furniture and basically doing all of the things that very stupid people do at the beginnings of horror movies set in very old houses. Should that concern me?
Most of Monday was prep work. I went through all of my old notes and looked at the design ideas for the book. I reviewed yarn selections, did a little swatching, considered model garment colors (and knitters), and wrote an introduction that will likely be changed a thousand times if it survives at all. More than anything, though, I considered what it is that I’m trying to accomplish. I want to offer something I haven’t seen much of in a while: a big book chucked full of garment patterns that a reasonably large cross-section of men would really want to wear. Don’t get me wrong. There have been some great books out for men in the last few years. Drew and Annie’s Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them is excellent. For the most part, though, my shelves are overflowing with books of women’s patterns, children’s patterns, sock patterns, lace patterns, throw patterns, pet patterns, and occasionally even patterns for garments for your inanimate objects. No offense to iPod, but I’d like as good a selection for myself.
So here’s what I’m demanding of myself: no less than twenty-five garment patterns for men (not unisex garments that can be worn by courageous men who are deeply secure in their sexual identity, but handsome garments designed for men), a range of styles from very traditional to ultramodern, a range of difficulty levels from easy-as-pie to genuinely challenging, and a handful of real, thoughtful accessories that men can actually get some use out of… socks, hats, scarves… maybe mittens or gloves. Is there anything I’m missing? Probably. Are there segments of the population I’m overlooking? Of course.
Here’s the thing, though. Good ol’ Harry from Operations has gotten the short end of the stick pretty universally on clothing. He gets slacks, a long-sleeve button-down shirt, and a tie. Occasionally, he’ll wear a jacket. In cooler weather he can accessorize with a scarf. In short, he’s locked in, and a lot of what’s out there is designed for twenty-somethings and gym bunnies. No, I’m not just writing the Lane Bryant book for men. No, I’m not just after the Elmer Fudd market. I just want good, attractive designs that a large number of men can wear without belonging to their own knit clique that is going to oo-and-ah over a project just because it’s finished and it fits. Yes, I do intend to have wide selections of sizes, and you better believe that I’m planning on putting a pattern for boot socks in there for the guy who simply refuses to wear anything else that’s hand knit. That said, I don’t believe that it’s unreasonable to expect designers to put out patterns for men that Harry can wear to work, to the game, to his brother Bob’s campsite, or to the bar come Friday night without being looked at sideways.
And for the record, I’d like to state very clearly that I am an openly gay man who operates a yarn shop. I’m not trying to deceive anyone—not even myself—into the idea that I’m anything but. I’m not trying to de-gay anything. I truly am proud of who I am and how I’ve dealt with my own personal challenges.
Personally, though, I find masculinity attractive, and I doubt that I’m alone in that. Do I want to be stylish? Sure, I do. But that doesn’t necessitate that I abdicate testosterone. Sex sells, does it not? And in my oh-so-less-than-humble opinion, men are hot.