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Knitting For Men: The Top 10 Patterns Your Man Will Love

Liat Gat - Founder

October 26, 2012

Do you know the kind of knits men like? What kinds of sweaters do they like best? Crew-necks or cardigans? What brand of yarns do they like? Noro or Cascade? What is the safest color to pick for men? Navy blue or charcoal gray? With all these choices to get right, you'll need a knitting-for-men guide for your journey. Enter Brian Murphy, my go-to expert on knitting for men. Here are Brian's top 10 patterns, plus great tips and tricks.

Knitting for men - Brian Murphy headshotDo you know the kind of knits men like?

What kinds of sweaters do they like best? Crew-necks or cardigans?

What brand of yarns do they like? Noro or Cascade?

What is the safest color to pick for men? Navy blue or charcoal gray?

With all these choices to get right, you’ll need a knitting-for-men guide for your journey. Enter Brian Murphy, owner of and my go-to expert on knitting for men. Here are Brian’s top 10 patterns, plus great tips and tricks:

Brian’s Top 3 Scarf Knitting Patterns For Men

Swelligant Scarf#1 – Swelligant Scarf, by Tish Davisdon.

“This scarf has three fast, easy, and reversible cables running along the length. I knit it in charcoal gray in a merino/silk blend (Cascade Venezia Worsted) and the cables show up great.”
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Red Scarf and Hat, shown in autumn colors#2 – Red Scarf and Hat, by Josh Bennett.

“This is a flat pattern that I decided to knit in the round, because I wanted it to be reversible. I made it in five autumn colors of Cascade 220 (a 100% worsted-weight wool).”

Brian’s tip – to knit this pattern in the round without messing up the stripes, slip the first stitch of the second round of the new color, knit to the end, and then knit the slipped stitch. To avoid any puckering, be sure to leave slack in the first stitch of the new color.

Cashmere Scarf for Him - Zach stitch pattern#3 – Cashmere Scarf For Him (my absolute fave!) Knitting Kit by Jade Sapphire Yarns.

“I knitted this scarf from cashmere for a shop sample for Blazing Needles. The pattern includes seven different stitch-pattern options – the one I used was called ‘Zach.’ ”

Knitting For Men Lesson #1 – Make Scarves Reversible

Brian: The common denominator of my favorite three scarves: they’re reversible. I’ve made scarves that are not reversible, and I find that I don’t wear them – I don’t want to fuss with getting it “just right.”

Brian’s Top 3 Sweater Patterns For Men

Brian: My favorite so far has been one I made to fit:

Cinnamon sweater in medium gray#1 – Cinnamon by Kim Hargreaves.

“I tweaked the pattern to make it fit my gauge and personal measurements.”
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José cabled sweater in light gray#2 – José from Knitting Off The Axis.

“I bought this book just for the pattern, and I have no regrets. I love this cabled sweater – it was actually my first attempt at full-size sweater making. I managed to luck out that it fit so well with no alterations to the pattern.

“I am a little disappointed in the yarn, though; it bloomed more than anticipated after blocking – the stitches lost some definition and it grew a bit. I still love it and wear it often.”

Liat: Readers, I want you to learn from Brian’s mistake on this one. Knit a swatch and block it before you make the entire sweater! If the swatch grows after blocking, you’ll need to knit the sweater in a smaller size to compensate. Or change to a different yarn.

Question mark#3 – A custom-knit sweater from Custom Knits.

Brian: Here’s my ideal sweater: No boat necks! I do like a half-zip standup collar and a v-neck.

I’m ambivalent toward crew necks, as I have found they can be too small and they make my shirt collars disappear under the sweater (not so fashionable or comfortable). On the plus-side, they look pretty good with a classic turtleneck. (Does anyone still wear them, other than me?)

Construction: I love cardigans, but would also like a stand-up collar, half-zip pullover – and I don’t need another shawl collar!

When it comes down to it, I prefer a fitted garment of classic, basic construction with some architectural or pattern element. Nothing too wild.

Again, it all boils down to the fit.

Knitting For Men Lesson #2: Make Sweaters To Fit

Liat: Guys’ bodies vary widely in their measurements, just like girls’ do. Brian is tall with long arms – I know he hates sweaters with sleeves that are too short.

Be careful: even when you take careful arm and body measurements, you have to take into account the idea of ease, that is, how loose or tight he likes his sweaters to fit.

A shortcut to taking body measurements and calculating ease is to just measure your guy’s favorite sweater (Brian’s all-time favorite is from Nordstrom), and then use the custom sweater instructions in Custom Knits to get the perfect fit. Or hang tight until I make a custom sweaters e-book!

Brian’s Favorite Sock Pattern For Men

Toe-Up Socks for MenBasic Toe-Up Sock Pattern, by Liat Gat.

“Of course, I love socks, but you’ve ruined me: I don’t really follow patterns anymore – I feel confident enough to just wing it! Besides, they fit better.”

Brian learned to knit toe-up socks by taking my Toe-Up, Two-at-a-Time Socks class. He used the customizable toe-up sock formula that comes with the course to make socks that perfectly fit his (very big) feet.

Knitting For Men Lesson #3: Add Colors To His Socks

Liat: What about yarn colors? Can we safely make socks in crazy colors for guys?

Brian: I can’t speak for everyone, but I like colorful socks (within reason, of course). It’s kinda like “wearing wild underwear when dressed like a penguin” – but you can show off the socks.

Brian’s Top 3 Fingerless Glove Patterns For Men

Go Anywhere Mitts in brown#1 – Go Anywhere Gloves by Kristin Spurkland.

This pattern is great because you can make them into fingerless, half-fingered, or full-fingered gloves. I just wish I had made the fingers a little longer, because my fingers do get cold.
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Beer Gloves in gray#2 – Beer Gloves, from Son of Stitch N’ Bitch.

I made these cabled half-fingered gloves in a light gray 100% wool, and they show off the cable really well.
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Ragtop Mitts in charcoal gray#3 – Ragtop Mitts by Susan Lawrence.

I love these long, foldover-cuff mitts from Salt Lake City local Susan Lawrence.

Knitting For Men Lesson #4: Make The Fingers Long

“The main lesson I’ve learned from knitting fingerless and fingered gloves is: make the hand and cuff longer than you think. Men are babies, remember?”

Brian’s Tips On Choosing Yarn For Men

“As for yarn, it has to be soft (men are babies). I don’t get the whole Noro craze; yes, the colors are great, but I find the yarn is scratchy. The same with Kauni. I LOVE Malabrigo, although I find some of the colors too girly.

“I also prefer yarns that aren’t going to pill so much. I have a really nice basic black cashmere sweater, but I can’t believe how often I have to shave it. I’m sure that’s not good for the sweater.”

Liat: I don’t know about you all, but does your guy even know what a sweater shaver is? Save the grief and find a yarn (usually a multi-ply yarn) that won’t pill.

Knitting For Men Lesson #5: Choose Brown and All Shades Of Gray

Notice the colors in Brian’s favorite garments? The common factor is that they all look smashing in different shades of gray. Two of his projects are in brown, which is a great choice as well.

About Brian and TeaZaanti

Tea Zaanti logoBrian runs, my absolute favorite place to buy tea online. A great variety is called Golden Pearls – I love it so much I brought four bags of it with me to Argentina so I would never run out.
They also give 10% of their profits to charity!

So, What Are Your Favorite Knitting Patterns For Men?

Help make this blog post a great resource for readers by contributing your favorites! Share your favorite knitting tips for men by leaving a comment here.

And if you liked this post, help other people find it by clicking one of the “share” buttons below. Thanks!

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20 thoughts on “Knitting For Men: The Top 10 Patterns Your Man Will Love”

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  1. great ideas. my hubby doesn’t like sweaters of any kind – he is always too warm, but he will wear scarves and hats, and socks around the house in the winter. he does manual labor for a living and it just wouldn’t do for him to wear nice hand-knit stuff to work, but i love the advice on colors, i do have a son in law now, whom i have not knitted for yet, but we’ll see this christmas, i have plans to make him a pair of solid black socks. he is very picky about his clothes, so i don’t want to get too crazy yet.

  2. I often think of knitting scarves in the round but haven’t bothered yet. My husband LOVES khaki green, but looks dreadful in that colour so I knit in a lightish blue for him and he looks GREAT in that. I once knit a loose ragg type in light blue which he’s already pulled out to wear this fall, also, a long time ago he begged and begged for a badger sweater (he’s a big fan of The Wind in the Willows). I couldn’t find a pattern so I took a plain Paton’s sweater pattern and knit in a cross stitch badger. At that time, I didn’t know how to adjust the graph so it looks a little odd. Someone once asked it it was a killer whale. hee hee I now know that you need to add an extra line or two into every five or so, or find knitting graph paper to redo the picture. I guess that’s my suggestion, find a standard pattern that you like and can do in several different ways by changing the neck or adding cables or some other pattern. There are some old Paton patterns that are excellent for that.

  3. Liat,
    As a guy, I was thrilled to hear about this post and I am truly honored that you asked for my opinions. You are a wonderful and trusted source for all things knitting and I hope what I had to share is helpful to your readers…and I hope they got a chuckle or two reading this – I sure did (I still can’t believe I said some of those things, lol). :)

    BTW, someone mentioned the Jane Ellison Queensland Collection book 9 – I agree, a great collection of patterns!

    Looking forward to the custom sweater ebook!

    Oh, and thanks for the shout-out. You are awesome!

  4. So cool to see this article as I am a male knitter and designer. My first pattern, published by and available from Skacel, is a reversible scarf, hat and fingerless mitts. It is called Men’s Reversible Ensemble and is featured on the cover of Simplicity, Vol. 3, Men’s.

  5. My boys all picked out their winter gear from the snowboarding mags or catalogs, then I knew the styles, colors etc. they wanted for that year. I made up what they chose from the pictures. The only thing I had free rein making was their socks, one time they all wore pink socks I made for them (to support breast cancer) to hockey practice and their team mates all wanted a pair, I made a bunch up and they all loved them. A couple of the kids said it was the warmest their feet had ever been, haha I think it was the first time they had ever worn wool socks! My advise is to have the guy show you what they like first, then make it for them, never try to guess. Also have them feel the yarn you plan to use, some guys may have more sensative skin and won’t like the scratchier yarns. One of my sons thinks the rougher yarns are warmer and prefers his outdoor sweaters & socks made from fisherman’s wool. Above all knit in lots of love and good vibes!

  6. I think the mistaken rib pattern makes a great hat and scarf for men. I am making a set right now in a medium grey color for my dad for his birthday/Christmas gift. Using Berroco Vintage Chunky. Lovely look and feel!

  7. My husband loves all the different scarves I’ve made for him but we have to be careful with color. Nothing that he perceived as Girly was worn by him. I made some warm footies with Malabrigo Rasta that he loves cause it’s the color of his Auburn Tigers!

  8. Queensland Collection book 9 has some amazing pattern for men (ok, that’s all it has). My husband and eldest son want me to knit them one of everything! I’ve brought the book into the LYS where I work and had several customers buy it as well. Great book.

  9. This is a very informative article! My 2 sons are in their 20’s and in college. One is a very fastidious dresser, the other is a soccer playing adventurer who wears jeans all the time. He’s the one who like me to make scarves, hats and gloves. And I’m just waiting for him to ask for a sweater……..I’ve never made one yet! But this gives me a great idea of what to knit for him, and in colors that are a safe bet for a male. And my older son? I think if I make any one of the scarves Brian mentions, he would be happy. Thank you for such detailed information. This is one of the best articles yet.

  10. Love his comment to knit a scarf in the round so it will be reversible! What a great idea! And not just for men’s scarves, either.

  11. My challenge is this, my husband is an 3XL, my oldest son is the reverse, he is an adult in a child sized body due to having kidney disease all his life. The youngest son will not wear any thing I make, doesn’t like hot things on his body. My daughter is a different story altogether. She likes me to make things for her but then she doesn’t treat the items with care. They end up on the floor where she just tromps all over then. Daughter-in-law loves me to make things for her and she appreciates it and takes care of it. Grandson loves my knitted mittens and hats that I make for him . Fortunately they live where it gets colder than FL.

  12. My husband is a long distance truck driver. Every year he seems to get colder and colder. Last year I knitted him a cowl scarf. Rather than knit a scarf with dangling ends, I knitted a cowl in circular knit, and twisted before joining the ends together. Made a matching hat, and now he says he is nice and warm. My man’s favorite color is green, and yarn choice doesn’t matter, cause its made with love.

  13. forgot to say repeat the pattern all the way across the row, the YO, K2 Pass the YO over the 2 stitches, then purl the even rows…

  14. I have just found a new stitch that I am making a scarf in for my dad in a luscious steel gray worsted, it is the bamboo stitch, give it a try… very masculine and has that wow factor without being over the top. cast on however many you would like for the WIDTH of scarf…first row start with a yarn over, K2 then pass the YO over the 2 knit stitches, row 2 purl all stitches, repeat rows 1 and 2 for however, long you want it…Give it a try.


    1. Hi Jodi:
      Love your idea for this scarf for your dad. I am going to try this for a friend who is a real mountain man. What size needles would you use and do you knit it in the round or not.

      Thank you for your quick response.
      North Carolina

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