Paging… a doctor… of some kind…

Knitted doctor mask

I’ve been trying to figure out who to name this knitted doctor mask after. It seems like surely there is a doctor who presides over fashion with accidental political relevance, the way Dr. Freud presides over objects with accidental sexual inuendo. Perhaps I am confusing doctors with saints.

Galen, in a heroic effort to work with my vague doctor-related presentiments, suggested Dr. Lagerfeld as the patron doctor of fashion. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. No, he isn’t really a doctor.

Free knitting pattern: cozy doctor mask

The mask is worked in stockinette stitch with a narrow garter stitch border, with garter stitch ear straps attached afterwards. The mask has decreasing short rows to shape the chin, and increasing short rows to shape the nose. It’s surprisingly warm and cozy to wear!

  • Gauge: 4.25 sts and 6 rows per inch
  • Needles: 4.5mm (or size to obtain gauge)
  • Yarn: under 25g of worsted weight
  • Size: adult (one size)

Row 1 (RS): sl 1, P2, K to last 3 sts, P3.
Row 2 (WS): sl 1, P to end.

These two rows make up the pattern (stockinette bordered by a 3-stitch garter border).

Main mask

Beginning at bottom edge, CO 30 sts.
Row 1 (RS): sl 1 knitwise, P to end.
Row 2 (begin short row shaping): sl 1 knitwise, P to last 3 sts, wrap and turn.
Row 3: K to last 3 sts, wrap and turn.
Row 4: P to last 4 sts, wrap and turn.
Row 5: K to last 4 sts, wrap and turn.
Continue in this fashion until you have wrapped a total of 5 sts on each side.
Row 12: P across (working wraps together with sts).
Row 13 (RS): work in pattern, working wraps together with sts.
Continue working in pattern for 12 more rows, except m1 inside each border on rows 15 and 23
Row 26 (WS): sl 1, P to last 7 sts, wrap and turn.
Row 27: K to last 7 sts, wrap and turn.
Row 28: P to previous wrap, P wrap together with st, wrap and turn.
Row 29: K to previous wrap, K wrap together with st, wrap and turn.
Continue in this fashion (keeping in pattern), until you have wrapped 5 sts on each side (the last wraps will be on the 3rd sts from the edges).
Row 36 (WS): P across.
Row 37 (RS): sl 1, P across.
Row 38: sl 1, P across.
Row 39: BO all sts purlwise.


Pick up 3 sts at top of left edge of mask. Work in garter stitch until strap is long enough to fit around ear. BO all sts. Sew end of strap to bottom of left edge of mask.

Repeat on right side of mask.


Weave in ends.

Tips and notes

The mask is pretty warm, and I think it would be a great alternative to a scarf. A face-warmer, rather than a neck-warmer. The obvious accessory would be matching gloves (ready for surgery!).

I can’t stop obsessing about the timeliness of a mask. It’s a disguise, in an era of paranoia about privacy and spying. It’s a gag, in an era of paranoia about censorship and secrecy. It’s a veil— one level more retro than burlesque. It’s kitschy like ninjas or pirates. It’s a surrogate beard for the ladies, since hipster facial hair doesn’t seem to be going away.

Three favourite recent masks:

Justin Timberlake in a bandit mask

Harajuku cosplayer on Flickr

Santos hoodie by Anticon

My head is full of plans for masks made of lace, eyelets, stripes, and checkers. Or tweed, for business situations.

Compassion for freaks who buy the t-shirt

I just finished reading Douglas Rushkoff’s old book, Playing The Future, about how people are adapting to the digital age and how it isn’t the end of the world (I gave it 3/5 on Amazon). He points out the conflict between rebel attitudes in subcultures like skateboarding and snowboarding (the book came out in 1996) and the masses of commercial logos and general expense of those sports. Buying commercial products to display your outsider status.

I have noted this commercialism in a lot of subcultures that for me are about DIY or revolutionary acts— geeks buy gadgets, crafters buy stash, sex activists buy toys, environmentalists buy organic, hipsters buy everything, even vagina-body-image nerds have products they promote.

This sometimes gets me down. What is wrong with people that they can’t rise above shopping? Two little quotes that I’ve been saving up are helping me appreciate rebel shoppers.

If your popular revolution demands that its adherents eschew popular culture it’s not going to be very popular.

Cory Doctorow in conversation with RU Sirius

The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object.

Jyri Engeström on ‘object-centred sociality’, after Karin Knorr Cetina

To me, activities and ideas can be excellent objects to share with friends, but it is starting to make sense that people are eager for more and more stuff to share with their outsider pals. Why just knit together when you can fetishize handspun yarn as well? Maybe sometimes that’s just friendly, not so much evidence of weird addiction.