Sticks & String

A podcast by an Australian bloke who knits.

Show 5 – What men want

Welcome to show 5, This show’s theme is ‘What men want’.

The book review this week is Knitting with balls by Michael del Vecchio

Wren Ross’s full CD is here.

The essay is available here.

What’s happening
Courthouse stitch’n’bitch – Sundays 1:30
Sydney Sity Klickers Every second Saturday afternoon
NSW Knitter’s Guild – Blue Mountains – 3rd Saturday of each month
Long Island Knitting and Crochet Guild (link to a page with their details, scroll down a little way) Westbury Library – 2nd Thursday of each month
Sydney Royal Easter Show 5 – 18 April 2007- Competition details. Arts entries close 20 December

This show’s music
This week’s tracks come from the Podsafe music network.
(Except for the little bit of Bach at the beginning and end, that’s me on a synthesiser.)

Phil Ayoub Carnival Days (link).
Alexander Blu Nature Days (link)

Link to the show file
Show 5 – What men want

You can contact me at: podcast at sticksandstring dot com dot au (I’m sure you know to replace the at with @ and the dot with . but perhaps the spam bots won’t.)

If you’d like to contribute to Sticks & String, guest essays, reviews, suggestions of music, people to interview, please just let me know. And please let me know about your knitting group I’d love to have to start a whole separate page because the list is too long.

25 November 2006 - Posted by | knitting


  1. I enjoyed the “bloke knitting” theme and look forward to hearing more of it. I have to say, though, that knitting for a man doesn’t necessarily have to be plain. Some traditional styles, such as Fair Isle or Scandinavian jumpers, can be very male-appropriate and not terribly gaudy if approached with an eye to appropriate color selection. I think that these styles tend to work because a) the designs are generally geometric and not too frilly, and b) the jumper construction itself is traditionally one of very simple lines without a lot of fussy bits and bobs.

    Comment by Mel | 25 November 2006

  2. Great show. I sat and listened to all 4 of your podcasts one after another. I especially like the instrumental music you pick. I also am impressed at how professional your show sounded from the first episode. Many podcasts have fallen by the wayside, it can be tough so keep it up.
    Thank you!

    Comment by Tonya Leach-Trickel | 26 November 2006

  3. Hullo David,

    I havent heard of the Knitting With Balls book yet and it was interesting hearing about it. It is really hard to find patterns that I would wear or my father would wear, maybe he will get it for me lol.

    I think you have a really good point that guys dont want all kinds of weird stuff to wear they want simple stuff, even as a knitter I want to do all kinds of complicated patterns and stuff but I dont want to wear any of it. So most complicated stuff gets turned into pillows and scarfs for ladies, bright unwearable colours get turned into throws. I want to knit a little of everything and I have tried almost all of it but I certantly will not wear it.

    So You wanted to know about stuff guys woul knit well the answer is I will knit anything as long as i know that whoever gets it in the end will be happy for it and wear/use it things like sweaters in plain stocking stitch are completely worth making if the person will wear it even if im bored forever it mostly isnt about me. I mean, knitting does keep me busy in my classes but its really not time I put into it and the entertainment for me its the reaction I get from a person thats exstatic about the item they are going to be able to use for years to come.

    I forgot the name of your guest but he has some really good points. If you find yarn you like use it for something and never wear eyelash yarn yuck.

    Have a good week and have fun on your trip.


    Comment by Johnathon | 26 November 2006

  4. Hi David,
    Wonderful podcast!
    I am very interested in these episoldes on Men and Knitting as I’m mother to 3 boys and also have a Mr Fitknit. A few years ago, I decided to knit myself a pair of socks. “Why would you do that?” asked Mr F, a question I’m sure most knitters have heard.

    I totally ignored him, finished mine, then made him a pair. I used an 8ply wool and reinforced the toes and heels with wooly nylon. I chose 8ply because I wanted it to be a quick knit and if he didn’t like them, I didn’t want to waste too much precious knitting time.

    After a couple of hours, the first sock was knit. I tried it on his foot. The look on his face was priceless and he refused to remove the sock! I have continued to make him socks because now he understands why handknit socks rock.

    He still wears them, even though we live in QLD and it is very humid. I’m also working on a jumper for him, using Knitty’s Leo pattern as it was the plainest I could bear to knit!

    Keep up the great work and I hope the camp goes well!

    Comment by Fitknit | 26 November 2006

  5. Entertaining podcast, as always. I wanted to toss out another idea about knitting for blokes. Handknits are not just for wearing; things that can be used around the house can also be fun to knit and yet appropriate for and used by a bloke. The messiest, most un-decorated kitchen still needs things like handtowels, trivets, and dishcloths and while these are still essentially knitting rectangles (which some knitters can find boring), they can still be done in interesting patterns and colours. (Dishcloths with a bit of lace patterning can even be more useful that dishcloths in a solid type of pattern, if, like me, you have to wash all your dishes by hand.)

    If you want something to knit that’s a bit more adventurous, lapthrows are also quite useful – if the colours suit and the bloke lives someplace where the temperature ever gets cool enough. (For anything larger than a lap throw, I’d be more likely to quilt – it’s a lot faster.)

    Finally, if the knitter is determined to do something intricate and complicated and challenging to knit that the bloke will still use, a pair of fingerless gloves with the mitten flap should do the trick. (You can find a pattern on called Broadstreet.)

    Looking forward to future podcasts!

    Comment by James | 27 November 2006

  6. Great podcast, David!

    You make it so easy to listen. I appreciate your simple, humble approach. There is a clear and honest tone to your podcast. Knitting and the internet has brought the most interesting people into my life!

    Thanks for this topic. I think I finally get why my husband doesn’t want a sweater. A man of few words, he is probably afraid of the the bobbles and braids and wild colors I’m so fond of. I am going to take your advice to heart and create a simple v-neck in stockinette in the dullest shade of gray/brown I can find, and then counter it with cabled socks in RED (though I will spare him the bobbles).

    BTW — as a former secondary English grammar teacher, I feel your “end of term” pain. I now work at my local knitting shop (see website), but I remember this crunch time just before Christmas break. Thanks for taking some time out for us.

    Happy Knitting Y’all!
    from Denelle in Tennessee

    Comment by Denelle | 27 November 2006

  7. thank you for another wonderful podcast;
    the interview was very interesting.
    i look forward to next week.
    good luck with end of term.

    Comment by profbookwurmknits | 27 November 2006

  8. Nice essay David and you’re absolutely right about how the thought of row after endless row of knitting a big bloke’s jumper is very off-putting. The Leo pattern from Knitty is nice though – if we could only get the yarn locally!
    Loved the music and the birdie accompaniment.

    Comment by Kate | 27 November 2006

  9. I have really been enjoying your podcast – it has quickly become one of my favorites. I love your essays at the end of each podcast. You always leave me with something to think about. It is nice to hear a male perspective on knitting – both as a recipient of knitted items and as a knitter as well. Thank you for making your voice heard.

    Comment by midgeling | 28 November 2006

  10. Great podcast – I really enjoyed it. I’m knitting a sweater for my husband – its a Starmore Aran. He picked it out, and picked out the yarn…but after listening to your podcast I’m wondering if he’ll actually wear it. All of his store bought sweaters are very plain. I made him a sweater (my first one), and he never wears it. Its pretty plain (just two big cables), but its sort of big and puffy (just what every guy wants, eh?). Maybe I should have a heart to heart with him before I invest a lot of time in this one. Thanks again – great podcast!

    Comment by Jeanne | 28 November 2006

  11. David,

    I just finished listening to episodes 4 and 5. Both were just great! I truly enjoy the music and essays.

    My comment is about your “just do it” attitude. I very much agree that is how a person should approach knitting. It’s not as if a mistake is permanent, you get “do-overs”. If something turns out not as you want it to be, you can just rip it out and start over. I love that!

    One thing that I have also found helpful when tackling a technique you want to try but are unsure of your skill or if you will even like the result or technique, is to knit for a baby or very small child. My first Aran type knitting is a royal blue baby sweater, and my first Fair Isle is a Dale Ladybug sweater. That way I learned the skill without too much money tied up in yarn, and even if I had hated the techniques, I would have finished the projects since they were small. Bonus points for the fact that small children have to wear the sweater if their Mom likes it, unlike older children who express their opinions and might not wear it!

    Keep up the good work,

    Comment by Linda in CS/CO | 28 November 2006

  12. G’day Dave,

    GREAT podcast! It’s nice to see other men who knit and taking up the mic. I haven’t the resource or the real experience to do a podcast, although I’d love to…but I doubt I’d stick to it.

    Anyhow, I had been listening to your show since Brenda mentioned it. And it’s nice to hear an Aussie accent on the podcast again after Andy Grace stopped doing his podcast. So, here’s a “Ta” for a great podcast! Keep on the great work…I might write something up for the upcoming episode, depends on my time. 🙂

    Cheerz mate!

    Comment by Elemmaciltur | 28 November 2006

  13. Thanks to your promos on Cast On and Lime & Violet, I found your wonderful show. It has quickly joined my pantheon of favorite knitting podcasts (Cast On, the sadly-and-hopefully-temporarily-silent Knitcast, and yours). Your shows are so thoughtful, well-considered and inspiring.

    I’m planning to teach a course for college freshmen next year that considers art, science, history, and politics through the lens of knitting. I’m hoping to attract some male students, and I think between your podcast and Michael del Vecchio’s great book, I just might be able to convince one or two Texans that knitting can be manly…

    Many thanks again.

    Comment by Elizabeth GM | 29 November 2006

  14. I found my way over here from Brenda’s podcast. Of course. I’m all caught up now, and I’ve enjoyed all you’ve had to say! And now that he’s heard you went to the U2 concert, my husband approves, too (he doesn’t knit or listen to podcasts… but as long as U2 is mentioned, he’s happy). The What Men Want essay was brilliant, and I’ll keep it in mind if I ever knit anything for my husband.

    Looking forward to more!

    Comment by Susan (Hyperactive Hands) | 29 November 2006

  15. Listening belatedly later in the week as one of our cats is very poorly and time,until I moved the sewing machine and the computer into the same room, is for her.

    I enjoyed the bloke knitting podcast, lots of useful information. I don’t knit for my partner as he likes the “plain, good quality yarn” and I am sure they do it better in Rodd & Gunn. Maybe I will do a sock one day but they sound hard and I’m only on my second garment – a cardigan with a sort of textured stitch in a Merino wool.

    The one thing I don’t do when listening to the podcast is knit :-)) I can’t follow a pattern and listen to you, I end up missing all the good bits so forgive me if I quilt as I listen and knit when you stop!


    Comment by Marjorie | 29 November 2006

  16. My husband (a non-knitter) and I listen to and enjoy your podcast together, and this week we both laughed out loud!

    Good on ya’.
    PLEASE keep it coming!

    Comment by Deborah | 29 November 2006

  17. I enjoyed the podcast on “bloke knitting”. I’ve only made one sweater for my husband–a shawl-collared pullover in deep rust with a band of colourwork in brown and cream across the chest, depicting dragons. My husband chose the yarn, the pattern, and the colours. Yet, in the ten years since I’ve made it, he’s worn it once. He always says it’s too hot and heavy.

    During periodic closet cleanings, I’ve suggested giving away the sweater or my frogging it so the yarn can be re-used. He won’t hear of either one. *Sigh*

    I’ve never made another sweater for him, but he has asked me to make him a cardigan-style vest. He’s also turned down the offer of hand-knit socks, but has been after me to knit him house slippers.

    I feel your end-of-semester pain. I’m a Ph.D student and a teaching assistant; we’re coming up to the usual end of semester nightmare.

    Comment by Colleen | 29 November 2006

  18. Congrats on the wonderful shows David, looking forward to the new one each week! I can spin away and listen to your show.So you have been bitten by the spinning bug, not long now and you might also come across the dyeing bug. Both of these habits cut into knitting time.

    all the best

    Comment by Paula | 29 November 2006

  19. LOL on the spinning wheel. And good luck. I just broke down and bought a hand spindle.

    So here is my response to “What Men Want”. I loved the episode overall, but still have some objections to the idea of the plain sweater as boring. It’s true, I’m female and I never knit for my husband. My Dad likes vests, but he’s not your average guy in a conservative work atmosphere. Maybe we’re talking about slightly younger men here.

    Yes, plain sweaters are boring. But, they can be an inspired in a way too. Plain Stockinette is a great place to try switching your knitting style from English to Continental (I mix them up so sorry if I got it wrong) if you don’t mind resigning yourself to a lumpish creation or doing a lot of frogging. However, a plain sweater is a great opportunity to try your first basic custom fitted sweater-design and a great canvas for new techniques. This is where you get to follow the sage advice of Maggie Righetti (author of Sweater Design in plain English), or knit along with Elizabeth Zimmerman. You can to compare 2×2 rib to 1×1 rib (okay not that exciting). Perhaps you want to try different ways of doing sleeves or necklines. There’s the v-neck and the roll neck. How about adding a zipper for the first time? (Then you could do pockets.) If you do add a zipper, where are you going to put it? At the neck only? Down the entire front? On the pockets too? Jazz it up by knitting BOTH sleeves at the same time. I know chunky grey wool or cotton can be dull, but it really is good practice

    Comment by moraie | 30 November 2006

  20. My main problem with the plain sweater is that my husband doesn’t think I should spend that kind of money on yarn when a cheap store bought sweater would do.

    Comment by moraie | 30 November 2006

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