Note: this is Part Two of a two-part article series, Men Who Knit. In Part One, we looked at how men drove the knitting boom centuries ago and were its primary (if not sole) practitioners. Now in Part Two, we’ll check in on present-day men who knit, both “regular Joes” and more famous men. Men may no longer be the largest number of artisan knitters, but by no means is knitting the province strictly of women. Men continue to knit in enormous numbers; I would venture a guess that the only reason we don’t hear about them quite as often is because men have so many other pastimes. Things like watching sports and brewing beer and cooking (oops, there’s another so-called “feminine art,” dominated in the professional leagues by men) and auto repair and computer gaming. But knitting still has a huge following among men. According to the U.S. Craft Yarn Council, approximately 2 million men and boys knit. Sure, that may not be quite as large a number as men and boys who are gamers, but it’s still sizable.
A few weeks ago, I asked men subscribers to the Knitting Nuggets Newsletter as well as Facebook fans of the Knitting for Charity page to chime in. I had heard from a dear, eager knitter who longed to have her dear husband knit alongside her. Lisa wrote the following: “Knitting is such an enjoyable hobby for me; since I learned to knit a number of years (10+) ago, I’ve begun to neglect my other passion, music! However, my problem is this: HOW might I motivate my dear husband to at least TRY learning to knit? We have been married 30 plus years and I admit to bringing the idea up at least once during our winter season; we live in NH and the winters are loooooong. “It would be so cozy to sit together on the sofa and knit while watching TV / movies…I already do this myself, BY myself, but would enjoy knitting with him. I know at least 2 other guys who knit, one of them even co-owns a local yarn shop that I stop at sometimes. Just wish we could share this passion, like we share a love of music, food, etc. “He will not even consider knitting, saying it is more for women than for men.” Sadly, I have yet to hear from any men Knitting Nuggets Newsletter subscribers. I did hear from a gentleman on Facebook, as well as anecdotal evidence from female Facebookers who wanted to share their experiences with male knitters. I’d like to present these here, without further ado. * A Dutch woman named Madelon alerted me to a couple of male Norwegians named Arne Nerjordert and Carlos Zachrison. These men are not just avid knitters; they are avid writers and editors who have published many books on knitting. You can actually find their many books right on Amazon. *A knitter on Facebook named Laurie alerted me to Eivin Kilcher, the star of a Discovery television show called “Alaska: the Last Frontier.” He is evidently an avid knitter; recent Facebook posts include a status update in which he mentions he has “so much knitting to do,” as well as a photo of a hat on the needles. *Laurie also provided this gem of a clip from a Cary Grant movie called “Mr. Lucky.” You just have to watch it. Really, who is more manly than Cary Grant? No one, that’s who. * Lee chimed in: “I am not a man knitter, but my boyfriend was for awhile. It’s a strange story, but he was acting in a stage play at the time as a very intense, angry character. When not on stage or after the show, he would knit to release tension. He found the rhythm soothing. Maybe finding the right manly pattern would help, too. (If he sat still long enough, he’d probably still knit because he watches me intently when I do)” *Sharon shared that her dad was a knitter: “I’m the eldest of four, mum used to knit [for] the two biggest and dad did the smaller two so we always had matching woolies.” *Sally told us that her father was also a knitter: “Very well, too. Lopi sweaters [were] his specialty. When he died in 1999, I inherited his needles and his (homemade – he sewed also) needle case!” *Heidi alerted us to a delightful Craftsy blog post titled “Men Who Love to Knit.” It celebrates some popular male knitters and includes a smattering of patterns that any man would enjoy. *Chandell pointed out, “During World War II, the wounded soldiers would knit wool socks for their battle buddies still in the war. If that doesn’t speak to the manliness of it, I don’t know what would.” *Finally, a male knitter spoke up for himself. Garry wrote, “I am a male knitter. I started because I wanted to make myself a scarf. Many years later, I’m making things for friends and family.” Also, this wasn’t mentioned by any readers, but I have to mention one name: Ryan Gosling. If you have spent any amount of time on social media, or knitting-related websites, you may have heard that this superstar actor enjoys knitting. He mentions it in this GQ Australia article from January 2013. Lisa, I don’t know if these will help convince your husband, but it may be worth a shot! Any men reading this, if you would like to chime in with why you picked up knitting and continue to enjoy it, I would love to hear from you! Even if you’re not looking to convince a man in your life that there’s nothing overtly feminine about knitting, I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at men, knitting, and history. In my opinion, knitting is simply too enjoyable for women to have it all to themselves!