Friday, January 11, 2013

THE DUDE: a retrospective

As I'm working to publish my book of men's knitwear designs, I want to look back at one of my very early designs for men: The Dude.  

This pattern was created on a dare and was my very first published sweater design, as well as being my second published pattern ever!  (Yes, I was arrogant and a little bit crazy.  I'm much more humble now.)  

Above all other considerations, I wanted the pattern to look as much like the one from the movie as possible.  When working on most of my designs I think, "How can I make this more pleasant to knit?"  and "Maybe there is an equivalent technique that would be more fun."  Not so with this design.  I was very conciously a slave to the image I was looking at.   

So, the fabric I chose was the insane 1x1 rib with stranded color work.  I really thought it looked more like the original fabric than anything else I swatched (and OH the swatches I swatched!)  I also worked the whole thing back and forth in rows and in pieces instead of the more reasonable and traditional steeking after working in the round.   

That is why so many of you intrepid knitters have expressed what a huge pain this thing is to knit.  And I won't deny it.  The hundreds of fearless knitters who have made their own Dude sweaters have proven themselves to be dedicated and persevering people, creating a much beloved garment with quite ridiculous construction.  I think you all deserve a medal!  So I made one for you.  

If you successfully completed an entire Dude sweater, I encourage you to add this graphic to your Dude Ravelry project, print it out and wear it on a piece of yarn around your neck, make stickers!  You earned it.  (If anyone makes buttons out of this, please send me one.)

Despite how difficult and irritating the whole thing is, I think I captured the spirit of the sweater pretty effectively.  The collar really could stand to be a bit more generous, but the rest seems fairly true to the original.  

If you have created your own Dude, but haven't knit from my other patterns, I need to tell you something:  I promise that my other designs, including those in Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men, do actually take into account t the knitter's thoughts, feelings, fingers, and sanity.  The color work sweater is kindly worked seamlessly in stockinette stitch as is logical for such things, and the ribbed sweater is worked at an enormous gauge and also seamlessly.  The Dude is by far my cruelest pattern.  

I have really loved the comments I've received about this pattern - it's great to be able to bring joy to knitters and their Labowski-loving friends and family.  

Here are a few snippets from pattern's Ravelry comments:

I showed this to my boyfriend and he said, “Make me this sweater. I will not break up with you."  
- justineka

That cardigan really ties the room together. I’m all over this.    
- vanillademille

You are so, so awesome. 
- weaverknits

This is the most amazing thing I have ever laid eyes on. I love that he’s holding a white russian in the pictures. :D I made the mistake of showing this to my fiancee who immediately said “Oh my god, ITS THE DUDE MAKE ME THAT”" 
- HaventGotaStitch

I'm also constantly amazed at the stream of new projects - some worked just like the pattern and others modified in wonderful ways.  Here are a couple:

Photo © Tom Zeller Jr.; knitter: jeannetao

Photo provided by knitter Pamela Northrup; model: Christopher Marsheck

There are 272 projects listed on Ravelry, so I encourage you to go have a look at the rest.  They're pretty inspiring.  You can also discuss and commiserate about the pattern over the Dude Knit Along in my Ravelry group.  

The Dude is a free pattern that will always be free.  Tell us about your Dude experiences!

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