Men who knit

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A couple of weeks ago the Wall Street Journal reported that truckers are taking up stitching to pass idle time.  Yes, really, men do knit.  It was in fact, very likely men who invented the craft to begin with.  The craft originated in the middle east and was spread throughout the world by the traders, sailors and missionaries.  (Sailors certainly makes sense..when one thinks of making nets for fishing and knot tying).   Men first began knitting in order to create fabrics for utilitarian purposes (socks were the first pieces found) as a vocation.

In the early days of knitting as an industry, the process to join a Guild as a Master knitter was a 6 year process that an apprentice undertook to perfect his craft an prove his skill.  A man could earn his way in the world by being a Master knitter.  Those days would end with the advent of machines during the industrial revolution however, many country-folk continued on in smaller communities, in Wales, Ireland and in Scotland.  Men, and in some instances, entire families in these communities continued to knit as it still proved a viable means of earning a livelihood.  This is the era that brought Aran and Fair Isle knitting to us and yet by the 20th century, male knitters became a rarity.

Although male knitters may have become somewhat of an endangered species, there have been some very notable male knitters in more recent history such as Alexei Romanov, Sir Francis Avery Jones, George Washington Carver and Jacques Plante, FDR and Carey Grant to name a few.

Today, knitting is seeing a resurgence among the male population (or more of them are coming out of hiding), and is counted as a past time of a few football players, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne and quite possibly even Brad Pitt (unconfirmed but I now wonder about the knit hats he is often seen wearing).

It is said that Russell Crowe took up knitting to assist with his anger management and perhaps it is the zen of knitting that leads these and other A-Types to take it up.  We do know that knitting can be a great de-stresser.  It also seems that truckers are taking up knitting and quilting to pass the time between layovers.

It is also still possible to earn a living in the knitting world today (although I’m not aware of any Guilds that require 6 years to join) as evidenced by Barry Klein, owner of Trendsetter Yarns and Rick Mondragon, editor of Knitter’s Magazine.  Barry has also published a number of knitting books, designed patterns for all the top knitting magazines and seems to be everywhere where knitters are.

Bringing men who knit to the internet, there now exists a terrific, relatively new knitting community online aptly named “Men Who Knit” that is a very active community (but have no fear, ladies are also welcome).  If you are interested in connecting with men who knit you might also check out some of these blogs;

Actually, I have found so many that I’ll add these links and the rest to the resources page on our website if you want to do more reading.

To this day, knot tying remains an art (think boy scout badges and sailing) worthy of being handed down so why “knot” knitting?  Why isn’t there a boy scout badge for knitting?

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12 comments to Are more men knitting?

  • Leo

    My hobby happens to be wood carving but I have often marveled at the patience of those who have the patience to tie thousands of knots to make a garment. I read this blog in the middle of sanding a new wood piece and faced the fact that men who carve (and women) also display a great amount of patience. So is knitting for men all that far afield? I just may have to try it.Just to get back at the blog composers puns, it is “knot” that amazing that a man should knit

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    admin Reply:

    A very interesting observation…I wonder. There do seem to be a couple of parallels that I can think of. While actively carving, I would think that one would have to be extremely watchful in order to protect one’s fingers…and yet while sanding, enter ‘the zone’ so to speak. Knitting is somewhat similar in that regard. While knitting patterns such as lace, the knitter is actively counting stitches and yet there are also times (knitting ribbing or straight stockinette) during which times the knitter can ‘zone out’. If you do decide to give it a go, I’m sure we can provide many great resources for you (why knot”!) and please do let us know how that works for you!

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  • Kim

    My grandfather, who is Scottish, used to knit. I believe he used to make (and fix) his own socks. My grandmother never picked it up — ever! She didn’t have the least bit of interest in creating, but she certainly did adore his creations. He actually created many beautiful stitched wall hangings as well that were divided among the family when he died. I received a picture of Clydsdale horses pulling a wagon full of hay out in a farmer’s field.

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    admin Reply:

    Wow, Kim. Thanks for sharing that. It’s great that you have those memories, too. Neither of my grandparents were knitters however, they were certainly into other crafts (woodworking and crochet for example). If you ever have the inclination, I’d love to see a pic of those Clydsdales (I do love the horses).

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  • Ok – I want to see a bunch of truckers sitting around a truckstop and knitting!! I’ve actually seen some Facebook photos with some male high school and college students who are knitting. It seems like it has become pretty cool to be a knitter, especially in some of the urban areas.

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  • One other thing I remembered today: Knitting is an activity that is an option for students (boys and girls) at a Science camp for students who won Science Fair in their regions. It’s presented as a mind expanding activity because it’s patterned and relaxing…it apparently helps to stimulate more academic/critical thinking as a result. I think it makes sense…if your head is clear, you are going to think more productively. Apparently the boys who choose it often quite enjoy it.
    Kimberly Wagner´s last blog ..Ban Technology – Stay in Dark Ages My ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Great point, Kim.
    In fact, one of the articles I’m working on has to do with the benefits of knitting, the zen of knitting etc. This is a great nugget to have and I’ll have to keep it in mind for my article. Thank you for sharing it.

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  • Lowell

    There have been the occasional runs of knits or purls that have flowed in sync with my breathing and the whole process starts to feel meditative, but then I run into a s2k1psso or k3tog and I’m sure glad to be able to breath again when I finally get these done …

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    lvkline Reply:

    Hi Lowell,

    I sure do know where you are coming from on that one! Knitting can certainly run the gamut from meditative to downright argumentative :) Thanks for commenting!

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  • I am a man who knits. I just recently took up designing and have 1 pattern to be published this spring, and 2 others awaiting approval. Check out my blog at http://www.smalltownknitguy.blogspot.com.

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    Linnea Reply:

    Hey Rusty,

    It’s great to meet you. I didn’t get back to you on this…my apologies but I have been to your blog now a number of times and really do like it! Congrats on getting published! That must feel really great! You remind me a lot of my brother although I can’t quite seem to get him to blogging…perhaps one day. Keep up the great work…I’ll be watching :)

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  • [...] has come back en vogue. The ability to create a craft or article of clothing is empowering women (and men!) by the dozens to take up a pair of knitting needles. And while knitting has fallen in and out of [...]

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