I’ve finally entered the world of blogging. I decided to do so in order to participate more actively in the burgeoning movement of male knitters, and to provide another space where we can discuss men designers, designs, favorite patterns, trends, and share our stories and experiences as male knitters. I particularly want you to share some of the latter with me at any time, including the story of how you got started knitting. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. At a retreat of male knitters in the Spring, it was striking to hear each man’s journey into knitting…some were more recent and some were start and stop for a much longer time, some involved some very painful episodes, and some were smooth sailing. What was interesting is that all of us were so passionately involved with this amazing creative activity.
As of June 16, I retired from Humboldt State University as Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences to begin a second career centered on knitting. I have the very good fortune to be working as manager of the Northcoast Knittery (in Eureka, CA). It opened two years ago, has beautiful yarns, a wonderful atmosphere, and a very welcoming space for knitters to gather, socialize, and knit. I am very happy to be there and am committed to the vision of a unique gathering place which is the shop’s by-line and ongoing intention. Come by for a visit if you are ever in Eureka (in Humboldt County, CA). Join us for Sip and Knit if you are in town on Thursday night! Friend us on Facebook and join our group on Ravelry!
Another impetus for this blog is the experience of having attended the Men’s Fall Knitting Retreats (West Coast) for the last two years. I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming one occurring September 16-18 at Dumas Bay Center near Seattle. These retreats are amazing…the camaraderie, the humor, the fiber field trips, the class sessions…and the knitting is non-stop. Some of the most amazing moments occur when everybody is so comfortable being together that all you hear are knitting sounds…all guys in a room knitting. Not that these quiet moments last long, given the string of activities going on, but the mix of it all creates a very special experience. For some present at the retreats, it was the first time to be knitting with other guys, and certainly with so many other guys. If you want a taste of the first retreat, held at Point Bonita, CA, listen to this great Y-Knit podcast episode.
Now for the story of how I started knitting…and how this blog got its name. I have done handwork of some kind for about as long as I can remember. My mother taught me to embroider at a young age. Around eight or so, I taught myself how to knit from the craft volume of Childcraft, a set of books geared toward children. I loved it…I remember knitting in the car even for short rides, like to church on Sunday morning. I saved my money and bought a ripple afghan set at Woolworths. I can still see the four greenish shades and four brownish shades of yarn wrapped along a piece of long cardboard in the kit up on the highest shelf of the store. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out the fan and feather pattern by myself—yarn overs were confusing—but Mom asked a friend who knitted to show me the stitches. I got two panels done and half of the third finished, and then I put it away in a small suitcase and attempted to forget it. Boys weren’t supposed to knit. But I couldn’t keep from doing needlework. I learned needlepoint from my sister-in-law when I was in junior high, and entered two pieces in the county fair. One was a Mickey Mouse image—done with poor quality yarn—and another was a pillow kit with quality yarn and a design with birds circling around it. The pillow won first prize, along with a big tri-color “Best of Category” Award. The Mickey Mouse won a 3rd place ribbon, and a comment from the the judge which read “good for a boy.”
Good.for.a.boy. I was stunned. So boys weren’t supposed to do needlework…okay, I got that message (though I couldn’t ever heed it)…but nobody had ever told me that boys were incapable of doing needlework well. And the irony that the same boy had just taken “best in category” was not lost on me either.
Initially, going to have my photo taken with my awarding winning needlepoint pillow for the local newspaper felt embarassing as a teenage male. Now it became a point of pride…hell yeah, I got a blue ribbon and a best of category, and I’m a guy and screw you if you can’t deal with it!
Many decades later, with three college degrees (that’s Dr. Wells), a successful university career, president of the local spinning and weaving guild for five years, organizer of lunch-hour knitting groups on campus, and now manager of a knitting store, a women says to me in the shop “Uhh, do you knit? I mean, I guess…of course you knit (nervous chuckle), you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t? Right?” I smile and say, “Oh yes, I knit. I’m absolutely passionate about knitting. There’s a lot of men who knit. In fact, it’s cool to be a guy who knits.”
It really is good for a boy…and boys are really good at it.