As a guy who knits, I sometimes encounter. . . incredulity that I am playing with sticks and string. When I walk into an unfamiliar yarn store I am often confronted by a bemused clerk, wondering if I've wandered into the wrong place. When I wandered into the yarn store in Doylestown a couple weeks ago, I heard one woman call out to me, "We're all ladies here!" I refrained from discussing the difference between ladies and women, hesitant to be accused of classism. However, as soon as I identify myself as a knitter, I am treated like a long lost member of the clan, the extended family, the mishpokhah of knitters.
One of the guys from Nine Inch Needles (our men's knitting group) has been known to knit on the subway! He says that if he is knitting on the subway then no one sits next to him. I rarely knit on the trains, usually because I almost always fall asleep when riding the trains. However, the trains can get pretty crowded, so maybe if I knit on the trains I'll get a bit more room to myself.
Or is that selfish?
One of the frustrations I have is that when a new book of knitting patterns comes out, there are usually only one or two patterns for men. I'm not inclined to buy a book with 15 patterns and only one of them is something I can knit for myself. There are several books written specifically with men's patterns as their theme, but almost all of them are written to the woman knitter making something for the men in her life -- husband, son, father, boyfriend, fiance, brother -- but with a very few exceptions, not written for men who knit.
I get it. We are a very small demographic. I go to a knitting night on Fridays, and I am almost always the only man who shows up. I like knitting with the ladies, but sometimes it would be nice if another guy showed up. But men knit. Really, we do. You'd believe it if you could see my yarn stash. We know that historically there were places men knit, like on whaling ships out of New England. There were long periods of down time between chasing whales and rendering their blubber. The hour were filled with crafts, knitting included.
And we know that knitting is a manly art. What could be more manly than a cowboy? That very icon of American manliness.
Amazon for a mere $175.99 (new), or $79.95 or $129.49 (used). Something tells me it isn't something I'll be adding to my library any time soon. But I like the idea that the Marlboro Man could whip up a quick neckerchief between drags on his cigarettes and while making all those little dogies git along.
Maybe I'll start knitting in public more than I currently do ('cause maybe knitting in hipster cafes doesn't really count). If anyone gives me any shit, I'll look 'em right in the eye and say, "Knitting. It's a manly art."