All about Men Who Knit and the Dogs That Love Them by Annie Modesitt
by Scott Rose
Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Themby Annie Modesitt
Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them. The very title of Annie Modesitt's book brings a smile to your face. The pictures of the dogs in the volume are all totally adorable; some of the men shown are lookers, too. The garments discussed, furthermore, have that much-coveted "F" factor, fabulousness. Between the Faupi Lopi Cardigan, the Fluffy Handpaint Dogbed and a knitted article referred to as the Boy Toy, there's sure to be something in the book that you will either want to knit yourself or have your boyfriend knit for you.
Annie has a profoundly beautiful philosophy of knitting. "We don't knit to 'make things' - we knit to make ourselves happy!" I might add that we also knit, at least part of the time, to make our dogs happy. You look at the cutie Woofer in this book posing in a knitted Rasta Dog Jacket, or at the sweetie-pie four-legger in a knit Pet Box Sofa and you just want to pick up knitting needles and wool and do something for your dog!
An expert will of course have no problem following all the clearly-worded instructions in the book, but what if you are a total beginner who doesn't know what casting on means? If you truly have zero experience with knitting, then it's possible that to get up to the level of Dogs Who Love Them, you will do best by reading extremely basic knitting instructions first. But you will definitely want to do so, inspired by all the great knit clothing in the volume. Annie's own description of her approach in the book is that she is "just putting the tools within reach of beginning knitters so they can increase their skill set at their own pace."
Then too, Annie makes an excellent point when she refers to knitting as being "passion-driven." She says: "If someone sees a cable sweater and KNOWS they have to knit it for their pooch because they love it, they'll find some way to work through the cables." The dog sweater patterns in the book are sized to fit a lot of different body types; many can be made more feminine by the addition of just a few easily-achieved details. And speaking of passion, our passion, a passion for dogs; the canine specific knit items in the book are so great on their own that you could well want the book for them alone. The variegated dog kerchief, for example, gives a dog that "Moi, I'm a chien from the Rive Gauche," bohemian look.
Annie has a previous book, Confessions of a Knitting Heretic. I asked her for an explanation of that title. Her answer gives rich insights into the spirit of her doggy and men knitting book. "In every human endeavor there is an orthodoxy; a group that feels there is a 'right way' to accomplish a task - and a heresy; a group that feels the orthodoxy does not have the last word. Knitting is so tied into my soul, it almost is like a religion - it's definitely a method of meditation for me. Since I'm self taught, I learned in a vacuum, and I taught myself some techniques which aren't considered "right" by mainstream knitters. I tried to change my ways, but nothing felt as good and natural as my OWN way of knitting. So I rebelled. I knit the way I want. And I went even further - I [gasp] teach others to knit like me. I tell them, "You can knit ANY way you want - don't feel you must knit like me - but also know that there are MANY ways to make a knit stitch, and none of them are wrong if you are getting the fabric you want! So I'm a proud heretic, because I know that there are many ways to reach knitting nirvana."
Here's what Annie said when I asked how to decide which colors and garments make for the most fashionable matching pieces for a person and their poochie. "I think fashion is within us. If the "in" colors this year are puce and chartreuse, and they both look ghastly on someone, then THEIR most fashionable choice is to pick colors that are flattering to THEM! For my money, the most significant factor in choosing a color is - do you LOVE the color? Does it make you sing? Does it look good against your skin and the doggie's fur? If the answer is yes, you really can't go wrong!"
Has Annie noticed whether dogs like certain knit materials better than others? "People and dogs prefer comfort. I know for sure that my standard poodle Atticus, who is full of himself and knows how good he looks, loves to be comfortable. He, like so many dogs, prefers fibers that are machine washable, feel good, and are strong enough to last to become part of a familiar and favorite item."
Annie reports that Atticus enjoys the things she knits for him. She says: "He acts like a girl with a new dog dress when I put a new sweater on him! He tolerates the mutt lucks I tie on his feet in winter to keep ice from hurting his paws. His favorite knitwear item, though, is the saddlebags. He knows when I bring those out that I'll be taking him on a nice long walk, which makes him jump with joy."
In this book, Annie relates her dream of one day opening a knitting and wine bar called Knit One/Sip Two. I asked which drinks and snacks are her favorite indulgences when knitting. She confessed: "I do enjoy vino, but get too giddy too fast to be able to knit. A Lady Grey or a nice chai tea is a natural. And when I'm just starting a long-term project like a coat or a snuggly sweater, I love a nice spicy wheat beer. But it's easier not to lose your stitch count with tea than with beer!"
Annie's co-author and real-live man consultant for Dogs Who Love Them was Drew Emborsky. She acknowledges Drew's excellent input for the book on many matters including which designs would speak to a guy, which details might be excessive, and small changes that might render certain garments easier to make. Drew also conducted interviews with knitting men; enlightening outtakes from those interviews appear here and there throughout the book.
In one of Annie's online portfolios, I found her Raccoon Jacket for women. It looked so smashing, I just had to ask if it would be possible to get that look for a canine. She says that keeping garments for animals close to their bodies is a key to comfort, so that, for example, they won't get caught in the clothing while they are walking. "The best use of the Raccoon Jacket pattern for a doggie would involve fitting it close to her body while retaining the look of a cute little fur jacket," says Annie.
Annie maintains a blog, and reports that she always receives lots of e-mails when she makes a post including Atticus, The Amazing Black Standard Poodle. She also teaches knitting classes, during which her sunny disposition keeps students' needles productively moving. We mustn't forget, after all, that her motto is "We knit to make ourselves happy." And I'll bet you a dozen Three-Colored Doggie Anoraks there's something in this entertaining book that will make your dog very happy indeed.