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Knit For Your Man Without Consequences! - Vidal from Rowan Mag 53

Let's face it.  A good men's knitting pattern is hard to find.  There seem to be less men's patterns being designed than in the past -- it's easy to find huge drop-shouldered intarsia wonders from the 80's with tight enough waist ribbing to make a nice beer-belly paunch.

Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a teensy bit, and this pattern (at least the center?) would be kind of cool in an ironic way.  But, I have a man who loves knit sweaters, and he wants them to look good.  Slim fit, no drop-shoulders, no crazy cables, thin.  Yes... something you'd buy in a store... sigh.

And I knit regularly for him... why?  Because HOW ELSE WOULD I BE ABLE TO SAVE ROOM IN MY CLOSET??  Ok, I'll admit, I get real joy at seeing him lovingly wear something I've made.  

But I don't want to knit something boring!  So I'm always sending him any kind of men's pattern I come across that I would actually agree to knit.  He liked Vidal by Josh Bennett (Rowan Magazine 53) right away.

And I liked it because it was a challenging knit -- the X is made with intarsia, a method that allows you to change color in the middle of the row.  I <3 intarsia!

Lucky me, I received the magazine AND a shade card as part of my job as a Rowan Ambassador.  I blogged about the fun we had together picking the colors, here.  To remind you, this included tearing out little strands of yarn so they would be closer to each other for comparison.  Apparently, according to my followers, this is a horrible thing to do, like dragging nails across a chalkboard.  :)  I still want to make something with that other combo...  and I never did get around to gluing them back in like I promised.

We chose the colors Eggplant and Straw (right) of Rowan Creative Linen, the yarn called for in the pattern.

As you may know, I love modifying patterns.  I changed 4 major things.

First, I really didn't like the very long sleeve ribbing... I understand the fashion concept, but in a handknit, it ends up looking like you mis-calculated the sleeve and just tried to rib until it was long enough.  I cut it down from 4 inches, to 2 1/2 inches.  This meant more stripes.

Second, there is a silly blip in the middle of the X.  Each stripe is 6 rows.  But it is physically impossible to get a single center stitch of an X in an even number of rows!  Annoying!  You can see here that there ends up being more on the top of the X in the center stripe than the bottom, and that messes with my symmetrical sensibilities.  This could have been fixed by having 7 rows only in the center stripe, or 5/7 rows in every stripe.  It was too late when I realized this blip.  Maybe I can prevent it in other people's versions!

The third thing was really big for me, but because I also realized the problem too late, I was only able to half fix it.  Do you see this side seam?  

Yeah, I really didn't like that the stripes switched there... why?  The flow of the design, to me, implies that it is the X that causes the beautiful shift, so the side seam shouldn't take away that glory!

Here was my fix... the seam is now perfectly aligned between back and front, which I love.  

BUT because I didn't think about this until the back was done, you can see that I had to start with a stripe that was the same color as the ribbing in the front.  Now, this messed with my aesthetic sensibilities.  So, if you would like to do this right, make sure to start with the same color stripe on the BACK, and then you can have everything work out perfectly in the front.  :)

Lastly, I didn't like where the collar was placed.

I wasn't a fan of it being installed in a contrast color stripe, much less after only one row of the collar.  It seemed sloppy, but I should note here that the collar starts differently for every size, so this may just be bad placement of one size.  To fix this, I started the X one stripe early, shifting the X down (it was too high anyway) and making it so that the right color ended up at the collar placement.  Love the result!

As I mentioned, the stripes are done with intarsia.  Be advised that you can carry your bobbins neatly up one side of the X, but the other side must be cut with ends woven in.

Also, if you've knit a lot of sweaters, you'll find the sleeve cap to be alarmingly shallow.  Don't worry, it works out... but I would recommend taking it in a bit more at the underarm when you sew the sleeve in, and to begin the decreases closer to the underarm.

About the yarn:  I just loved Rowan Creative Linen, which is 50% cotton and 50% linen.  It's dry to the touch and crisp, but surprisingly soft.  It has great stitch definition and feels really smooth to knit with.  There is tons of plant matter in the yarn, but I like that, because it makes me think, 'yup, they weren't lying about that linen content!'.  I decided not to pull most of it out, unless it was a ginormous branch.  ;)  B. did mention it was itchy, though... hmm...

The best thing about this yarn is how it blocks.  Holy moly!  When you pick up your piece afterwards, it's like pressed cardboard!  I've never seen anything block so perfectly into any shape.  Case and point: I blocked it wide and it totally didn't fit right... so the next day I blocked in long and it was like I had never blocked it before... spooky!

To do the photoshoot, we biked down to the warehouse district (Griffintown for those in the 'know').  To my total surprise, there was an upscale outdoor venue called "New City Gas" I had never seen or heard of... and we could walk right in!  It was carpeted in astro-turf and surrounded by metal shipping cars painted bright yellow, and advertising their favorite drink.

Our fashion shot... awesome!

I should add that it was also very hot, and B. was the best sport, ever.

I think he'll get a lot of wear out of this one!  The truth is that at this heavier gauge, wool sweaters get rarely worn... cotton is the answer to seeing a man wear a sweater.  I know I had a lot of tweaks in my version, but I highly recommend Vidal as a comfortable and highly flattering men's knit that is a lot of fun to make.


  1. You're absolutely right, the neck and side seams would irritate me too! I wrote about another tweak I would make to Videl a while ago - Sadly Videl is a bit too bold for my man, but I think it's a great design and even better with the tweaks!

    1. Oh, thanks so much for that link! Following you, now. :) I had never thought of doing that with the intarsia (the increases/decreases)... And duh, I just remembered that I actually changed the chart so that the stitches went more in a line... they were a bit off, and I wonder if that helped smooth it out! I guess I really did a lot of mods, in the end, haha. Thanks for reading!

  2. It's a beautiful sweater, but one I could never knit unless I had you sitting right next to me. Let's plan that!

    1. Consider it planned! And of course, let's make if for YOU!


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