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Survey Results: The Sweater Men Want

Jan 11, 2008

Could this be the ultimate guy sweater?

I just never know what I am going to get when I post a survey here on Knitting Daily. It's always a little scary—will anyone answer? Will people think the questions are dumb? Will I end up having to make up the results because I only got six responses, and five of those were from folks wanting to sell me things I can't talk about on a family website?

Fortunately, you folks are extremely generous with both your time and your thoughtful replies. In particular, I'm tickled to death that a whopping 52% of the folks who filled out the survey (What do men want in a handknit sweater?) were non-knitting men.

Non-Knitting Gentlemen: I thank you. What stars you are to take time away from whatever else you were doing to follow your spouse, your daughter, your sister, the total stranger in the next cubicle, over to the computer to answer my little survey. Your contribution to the greater good of knitting is deeply appreciated.

OK, heeerrre we go!

What Men Want In A Sweater

The Perfect Men's Sweater is a long-sleeved pullover (80%), without a hood (64%). It is dark in color (90%), preferably solid blue (82%). It has minimal texture (68%), although something subtle, such as a bit of ribbing, is acceptable (58%).

Cables were a popular second option (46%). Second choice color was black (76%), followed by brown (72%). Charcoal grey was a big write-in winner (how I managed to leave that one off my color list is beyond me). Heathers and tweeds had very respectable followings, as did forest green. Camoflauge and sports team colors were also mentioned a number of times, as were (curiously) puce, lime green, and pastel pink.

Perfect on all counts: The Cobblestone

(Puce? C'mon, guys. What's up with the puce thing?)

One gentleman badly wanted a flourescent green or yellow sweater, but was concerned about the possibility of divorce if he pushed too hard in his request. Several other men also mentioned that their wives were very, um... influential... in their color choices. (Perhaps marriage license applications need to include color preferences as part of the questionnaire?)

Other interesting bits:

• Yellow, orange, and bright colors each got a 10% vote share.
• Pastels were favored by less than 6%.
• 39% said they would like "a little bit of bright color".
• 45% liked beige/cream/white; 34% liked red; 15% purple.
• Cardigans were favored by 30%; pullover vests, 14%; zippered or button-up vests, 8%.
• 8% did not like to wear any kind of sweater or vest at all.

As mentioned above, 52% of those who answered were non-knitting males. 11% were male knitters; 38% were women answering on behalf of someone male. 28% were age 30 to 39; more than 130 were under the age of 20, and there were two lovely people who checked the 90+ box.

Once again: Thank you to all the folks who responded to the survey, particularly those who are not fiberfolk and thus weren't really sure what the heck was going on. Personally, I would MUCH rather give someone exactly what they REALLY want, rather than spend hours knitting someone a purple cardigan only to later find out that their heart's desire was in fact a flourescent green pullover.

Manly Pullover Patterns

Now that we've heard from the men about their sweater preferences, I thought I'd go through the patterns on Knitting Daily and find the ones that met their masculine criteria:

For sale in the KD Pattern Store

Tan textured pullover shown above: Cobblestone Pullover, by Jared Flood
Subtle texture: Anniversary Pullover by Kathy Zimmerman
Fisherman-style pullover: Old Way Gansey by Ann Budd
A bit of color and texture: Tree Bark Pullover by Fiona Ellis


What's on Sandi's needles? I cannot tell a lie. I made a big boo-boo in the Gathered Pullover, and shall be calling Cap'n Frog in for help. And I'm working on a new Secret Project for Knitting Daily!

Sandi Wiseheart
is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily every Thursday. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits. Or, if you're on Twitter, follow her tweets: alpacasandi.


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on Aug 28, 2010 8:39 AM

Here's a flip for you:  I'm a male knitter and kind of a beginner (one year or so) - just hats and scarves so far.  All my wife's friends go ape when they see what I've made for her, but she won't wear any of it.  My second project was a scarf that took 3 months and was a Christmas present.  She suggested we give it to a relative.  Go figure.

HeidiS wrote
on Jul 2, 2009 12:34 PM

Actually, none of the "free patterns" links are opening up for me.  I already have the Ultimate Gift pattern, but I would love Welcome Back Old Friend.  Unfortunately, a search on Google turned up the sweater, but for sale in the pattern store rather than free.  

ValentinaK wrote
on Feb 9, 2009 4:23 PM
The Ultimate Gift sweater used to be available from this site. I looked at it many times, but never printed out the pattern. Now that I actually want to make it, I can't get it... Has anybody figured out where it went?
laschuk wrote
on Oct 8, 2008 7:18 AM

Like several others, I can't open the file for the 'Ulitmate Gift' sweater ( blue cabled.) Has anyone had success with this?


Mary LisaC wrote
on Feb 6, 2008 12:59 PM
The Ultimate Gift yarn? From where did you purchase it?
JordanS wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 9:41 PM
I am in the midst of the Cambridge Jacket from the Summer 2006 Interweave knits and have run into issues with the sleeves...anyone have any ideas as to what's going on?
LyndaS wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 9:28 AM
I also can't find the yarn used in the pattern, or any information on it. Can someone tell us what weight the yarn is so we can substitute? I find this to be one of the biggest frustrations in knitting patterns - Please tell us what weight the yarn is so that we can substitute if we want, without having to search the internet for days. I've had this problem with several IK patterns lately. Thanks!
MicheleO wrote
on Jan 14, 2008 1:13 PM
Regarding sizing comment above - my husband is 6'2 - average weight. I can't speak to how the pattern was graded; it is from several years ago and I just don't recall. It is a roomy loose fit though and it has grown a bit over time! Check the schematic for measurements.
MicheleO wrote
on Jan 14, 2008 1:04 PM
Imagine my surprise when I opened my KnittingDaily email today and saw my husband standing there! That's my husband Matt modeling the "Perfect Gift" sweater (now about 7 years ago). I thought readers might like to know: that sweater has been one of my husband's favorites for all this time. He still wears it - alot. And... every time he wears it he gets compliments. When I designed that sweater I asked myself many of the same questions asked in the survey. What would be the ultimate gift that a man would actually want to wear? Dark navy, pullover, not too complicated, subtle cable pattern, plus the added luxury of cashmere yarn was the answer and thus, this design evolved.
The one thing I've learned about men... or husbands....or mine at least, and handknit sweaters is that they are always too hot! .... the men.....I mean the sweaters... I mean the men wearing the sweaters get too warm, that is!

Only on the coldest blizzard days will my husband wear a bulky handknit. Otherwise, it's finer gauge stuff that makes the cut. This sweater is nice because it isn't TOO HEAVY! Warm, but not sweltering. If 100% cashmere just isn't in the budget, you could easily substitute a wool or wool blend or even perhaps a rustic silk blend for warmer climates, as long as the gauge matches.

It's always fun to see an old design still popular. I think this one is fairly classic "guy sweater" and I know from personal experience that it has stood the test of husband and time.
(I sometimes roll up the sleeves and wear it myself)!
Happy knitting ladies (and guys) and happy wearing guys (and ladies)!

Michele Rose Orne
DeirdreL wrote
on Jan 14, 2008 11:09 AM
I am currently making my husband and sons crocheted pull-overs, in plain blue, grey, and natural respectively, with simple ribbing, as they requested. So, my men agree with your survey results.
LauraM@9 wrote
on Jan 14, 2008 2:07 AM
This subject hit really close to home. My husband, though he claims to be fairly open on all subjects (start chuckling), is a very hard person to knit for. However, I finally hit on a winner when I knitted Ann Buds "Cambridge Jacket." He is broad shouldered with a tapered waist and tapered arms, so normally things need to be adjusted to fit right. I had to lengthen the sleeves...but he loves to wear this sweater. He has it now in red, dark gray, and loden. He claims this is the perfect mens' sweater.
Anonymous@2 wrote
on Jan 13, 2008 5:34 PM
The percentages would mean more to me if we knew the actual number of responses.
DaisyS wrote
on Jan 13, 2008 3:27 PM
I like all those sweaters for ME, a short "well-nourished" (that's how a doctor once put it) female. How about an article on resizing a male sweater for females? (I know I read about this once but have lost the information.)
Quiltsjapan wrote
on Jan 13, 2008 8:31 AM
WOW, these are sweaters that rock! You've put together an amazing post, Sandi! Thanx!
GJabouri wrote
on Jan 12, 2008 1:31 PM
Hi all,

I agree with TARA R: I also thougfht that puce was a yellowish-greenish color with a hint of brown.
TaraR wrote
on Jan 12, 2008 1:16 PM
My knitting fears are that my item will not look good in the color/yarn chosen; that the recipient will think the gift is lame; if it's for me, that it won't look good on me; or that I'll pick something so frustrating and complicated that I won't finish it. Actually, finishing things is one of my overall problems, but amazingly, there is nothing I've started knitting that I haven't finished. I don't know what's magic about knitting - I have unfinished paper/stamping/scrapbooking projects, unfinished cross-stitch projects, my only sewing project ever remains unfinished and is 10 years old, but I learned to knit in May '07 and haven't left a single thing unfinished, including a summer sweater for myself and two baby blankets, one of which took way longer than anticipated.

I also have a confession to make. I always thought puce was a yellowish-green color - a little duller than chartreuse. Hm. Well, ya learn somethin' new every day.
TerryW wrote
on Jan 12, 2008 1:04 PM
I wish my husband would wear sweaters. I have knitted 2 sweaters for him over last 30 years or so. One was a cotton crew neck pull over in blue/grey tweed in a large basket weave.The other was a vest in black and dark green with cables also in heave cotton. He can't wear wool. He will wear them once in a while. I ask him if he wants me to knit him another sweater and he always say no "I don't like to wear sweater". So I gave up years ago. However, I am just about finished knitting him socks in the most yummiest merino extrafine wool that I have ever felt. It's "Life Style Zitron" (which I never heard of) made in Germany. It's has great colors that forms nice stripes and some fair isle patterning. They are so so soft that it almost feels like cotton. His feet are always cold when we sit around the house at night watching the boob tube. He can't wait until I'm done. This is the first time he showed any interest in me knitting something for him. And Sandi, I finished the toe on the first sock by "grafting on the needle" instead of the Kitchener. It worked like a charm! Thanks for that tip. Thanks again Fire Island Knitter
SueW wrote
on Jan 12, 2008 10:43 AM
Thanks for the size warning on the "Ultimate Gift" pattern Connie M.
Sue W.
ConnieM wrote
on Jan 12, 2008 5:50 AM
One warning on the "Ultimate Gift" pattern. I knit it last year, had gauge throughout, but her husband must be a big guy as the smaller size given in the pattern ended up as a sweater that I would call XXL. Great sweater, beautiful cables, fun to knit, but runs LARGE!
IreneM wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 9:56 PM
Forgot to mention. My guy
picked out a vest for me to knit him. It is a slip stitch
pattern. He wanted the colors
in the picture-a black yarn
with varigated yarn in jewel
tones. Very nice. He does
have a good eye for what looks spiffy.
IreneM wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 9:35 PM
I guess my hubby is very secure in his 'old age' [67]. he likes clothes-sweaters-that make a statement. His words. He likes plenty of color and two
of his favorite colors are
yellow and red. I have made
him a yellow-gold sweater and
also a darkish red one and
has gotten many complements.
Too bad I'm not an expert at
intarsia-he'd love it.
Zaz wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 8:11 PM
hello sandi,
i am afraid that all but the Cobblestone Pullover are VERY textured...
men that work in offices now tend to want what's in the modern shops: maybe one tiny band of design brought by another color ,maybe an all over ribbed sweater too. i know my man hates turtlenecks unless they're very thin yarn which can only be machine-knit for outdoors weekends and such. otherwise all necks have to be simple, he could put it over a shirt (for work). texture is very important to him, he started getting into sweaters when i introduced him to lambswool which was the only wool he could bare to even touch with his fingers.
he hates beiges and whites which he says are "colorless" and "blah".
he'd wear black because his eyes are blue and black is a good color with suit pants and he looks assertive in it.
strangely enough, he adores red, some reds not all because i think it's an assertive color too.
i think that all in all the design and color has to be simple yet bold, far from details.
us women tend to want to throw in all our desires to knit cables into a man's sweater and that's where we would mess u big time, cause cabled ones would be 1) heavier yarn, 2) wider on the body than the cosmopolitan man wants or finds in shops and makes him look like he's going hunting or something or to sit by the fire.
(again a romantic idea of ours that is incrusted in us that we're not aware of).
well, voila!
Zaz, paris -styliste modeliste de la maille (knits designer).
TSmith wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 6:49 PM
While I did post a few lines about Knitting Fearlessly ... there's one thing I always fear ... knitting for the husband. So subsconscious is this terror, I forgot to mention it, let alone place said man in from of the survey box!

I just admitted my fear ... he picked Cobblestone.

BRB - must go buy yarn!

And, hey, what about the LYS shopping spree?
TelmahQ wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 5:52 PM
My man will NOT accept cable knitting. Every single time I show him a pattern with cables (sweaters, hats, socks), no matter how manly I perceive them to be, he says "I like it except without the swirly things."
JenniferH wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 5:45 PM
What a hoot. DH had deleted the survey, but generously took it, today. Oh, the beloved greys & earth tones.
& I am so appreciative of Kathy Zimmerman & all the others who are following the Old Way. I love being able to take the patterns & plug them into EPS. I truly hate to follow row by row instructions. Yeah for diversity!
E.L wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 5:34 PM
I may have missed it, but what is the Number of people who answered the survey? 50% of how many? And the correct spelling is fluorescent.
ColleenD wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 4:50 PM
Puce...I had no idea what color that was. Thanks for the enlightenment, Emily C. I had to laugh when I read about that guy who answered he wanted a sweater in fluorescent green or yellow. Was he being sarcastic at being roped into filling out a "silly knitting survey"?! (*I* don't think it's silly, but I love to knit and want to know what men WANT!)

On the flip side, isn't it easy knitting for women? My mom, I could make her just about anything in any color, and she'd love it...maybe that's 'cause she's my mom, but still. Happy Knitting, everyone!
RuthM wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 4:25 PM
I just wrote to say the What Men Want sweater PDF will not open for me--"error on page" I just tried the other two sweaters offered--welcome back old friend and the Boy's crocheted pullover. Welcome back also will not open. Boy's crochet opens with errors on page. Can you tell me what is wrong--these cable sweaters are great and I would like to download them.
RuthM wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 4:18 PM
I have just tried to download the PDF instructions for the "what do men want" blue cable sweater featured in today's newsletter. It won't open for me and I keep getting the message "error on page," Hope you can fix this.
SeannaL wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 4:18 PM
I was happy that my hubby filled out the survey. He wants a vest, but I'm not sure he would wear it except when watching Harry Potter (he wants a class vest for Hufflepuff).
EmilyC@3 wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 4:07 PM
Puce is rather the color of a cranberry. 2/3 of the men I'd be willing to knit for would probably *love* something in that color. Both are rather fond of red in all shades, so this isn't surprising.

The other might like something puce, but he would probably prefer a somewhat darker red. He thinks brighter shades of red make him look funny.
annekaelber wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 4:02 PM
Sharon H, I have to share my husband's "funny fear" with you and the rest of the readers: He's tried his hand at the knit stitch, but still swears "it's magic". He's afraid he'll suddenly realize it's just not *possible* for this to work....and suddenly knitters all over the world will no longer be able to knit! *grin* Ah, that's my geek. I get his total admiration for the "magic" I create with my knitting.

LisaE wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 3:59 PM
I love Interweave Press and I read Knitting Daily every day and very much enjoy it.

BUT I do not knit. Is there any chance that a Crochet Daily will come out?

Has there been any thoughts on that?!?!?

Lisa Elbertsen
A avid Knitting Daily and Interweave Press (magazine and books) reader who only crochets.
KatY wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 3:53 PM
I have a feeling if you gave the men who preferred puce a color chart that included it, they'd pick out a entirely different color. That or they're completely color blind.
SharonH wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 2:57 PM
Hi Sandi,

I have a question. I've been kind of mulling it over in my brain ever since you posted about fearless knitting and I've decided that it might be best to go to the source.

So, what exactly are people afraid of? I can't imagine that people are actually afraid of knitting, it's just string and sticks. I can, however, think of several things they might be afraid of such as looking or feeling stupid, wasting time, wasting money (by ruining the yarn or not finishing a project) or not enjoying the new technique.

I'd be curious to see what it is that people are actually afraid of.
KitrenG wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 2:37 PM
I didn't take the survey--my husband adamantly informed me he will never wear a sweater, hat, socks, gloves, scarf, or anything else knitted (not just by me!) so 'don't bother'. Well, far be it from me to want to force my talents on an unappreciative audience, waste yarn, or diminish my own wardrobe opportunities (besides, I have lots of others I knit gifts for). More for me, right? But--here is the survey result for my 19 year old son, who does wear sweaters. 'If you can make me one that fits tight all over (read 'zero extra give'), ultralight weight yarn, that looks like a Ralph Lauren sweater (yeah right, I can buy that on sale for $70), I'll wear it--long sleeve pullover, totally plain.
So, where's the fun in that! Besides, no knitwear designers are doing that for men's sweaters. I'm finishing the Central Park Hoodie for my niece, then a hoodie for her 4 yr old, then all the unfinished projects may be next. I could knit day and night for the rest of my life and still not make everything I want to make just for me. And I like all the men's sweaters--for me, downsized, just fine!
Korinthe wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 2:34 PM
"The Ultimate Gift" looks like a sweater my husband would actually wear! However, I can't find the yarn it calls for on either the Filatura di Crosa or the Stacy Charles websites (or the yarndex). Has it been discontinued? (If so can you possibly find out the wpi and manufacturer's gauge from the IK archives?)
LesleyM wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 2:33 PM
Ya know, I've seen the Ultimate Gift sweater a gamillion times but never in a picture as light as the first one in your post. It's GORGEOUS now that I can see it. It's a must knit.
AnneB wrote
on Jan 11, 2008 2:09 PM
My husband actually enjoys going to yarn shops with me. The last time he spotted wool from New Zeeland that he fell in love with. I am in the process of coming up with a pull over vest to make with it.

He also went to a fiber fair with me last summer. Even though he is in a wheel chair, we had a blast. Found some wool from a Manx sheep to knit a pillow for our Manx cat.

I take knitting projects with me to his airplane hobby shops,museums, conferences,....