Research project

I am currently working on the article for Canadian Craft Journal that looks at designs for male knitters in pattern books. I am interested in how men are photographed, what type of designs the authors suggest would be good for women to make for men.
I was hoping to find some information on this male forum. For now I am going to post three questions and hoping for your replies. I will not be mentioning anybody by name and if I decide to quote someone I will seek your permission to do so.

1. Do you sometimes knit in public? If so, what type of comments from people around you do you get?

2. Do you participate in the formal knitting group? Are you aware of any women only (not open to men) or men only knitting circles aside from the men knitting retreat?

3. There are several books that offer patterns for men. For example, Margaret Hubert's 'Knits for Men", Debbie Stoller's "Son of Stitch'n'Bitch', or Bruce Weinstein's 'Knits Men Want". Do you have a favourite book (not necessarily from my list)? Do you have a favourite design for men?

I will be really grateful to those who respond


rc_in_sd's picture

1. Do you sometimes knit in

1. Do you sometimes knit in public? If so, what type of comments from people around you do you get?

I knit in public, usually in doctor's waiting rooms and airports. With one exception, the people who strike up conversations with me about it have been women. Only once has someone said "I've never seen a man knit before." On some occasions, people have referred to other men they know who knit. The most common comment I get is "I wouldn't have the patience for that" which I find interesting since a) I'm not a particularly patient person, and b) I would be incredibly impatient in these circumstances if I didn't have my knitting with me. Once a male passenger across the aisle keep staring over his shoulder at me as though I had three heads, but we never made eye contact and he never made a remark.

2. Do you participate in the formal knitting group? Are you aware of any women only (not open to men) or men only knitting circles aside from the men knitting retreat?

My LYS has drop-in open knitting hours on Sunday afternoon, which I'll attend sometimes, but it's pretty informal. I recently saw two other men during one of these sessions, which was the first time that I wasn't the only guy.

3. There are several books that offer patterns for men. For example, Margaret Hubert's 'Knits for Men", Debbie Stoller's "Son of Stitch'n'Bitch', or Bruce Weinstein's 'Knits Men Want". Do you have a favourite book (not necessarily from my list)? Do you have a favourite design for men?

I like Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop, mostly because she provides a framework that allows you to create your own designs, so gender-specificity isn't a problem.

I've generally only garnered

I've generally only garnered odd stares from people when knitting in public, but no one has ever approached with a comment or a question. I think it more likely that in our disposable age, to see someone hand-crafting an item that people associate with being cranked out by machinery is the real underlying cause for any display of curiosity. Why bother to knit socks when you can just go out and buy a pack?
I don't do any formal kntting groups, but do enjoy the "drop in" knitting at the LYS. And yes, I am the only man ever present. I find it amusing when wives come in to buy yarn dragging their husbands along with them and the husbands invariably seem to give me that "What the hell?" look. It's absolutely priceless.
I don't really put much stock in any pattern books or magazines out there, and if I do anything at all ambitious I refer back to Elizabeth Zimmerman for guidance. I'm as gay as gay gets, but DON'T like loud, retina-popping colors and prefer a more conservative look in my knitwear. Generally, I've almost always found patterns published for men to be too "fad-ish" and "trendy". I'd rather a sweater be strikingly plain, well-made, and of high-quality yarn than care about whether it was stylish or not.

Pinecone's picture

Hello Alla, 1. I do not knit

Hello Alla,
1. I do not knit in public. I do all of my knitting at home.

2. Other than Men Who Knit, I do not participate in any other formal knitting group. I am not aware of any such groups that restrict their membership to men only or women only.

3. I don't have a favorite book of patterns for men. Almost all of my access to patterns is via the web (e.g., here on MWK, Ravelry).


mrossnyc's picture

1. I do knit in public,

1. I do knit in public, mostly on planes, but sometimes on the subway or while waiting for an appointment. The comments are always nice and I frequently get questions about what I'm making. Another frequent comment is, "I've never seen a man knitting!", which never ceases to surprise me.

2. I do not participate in a knitting group.

3. I have several men's knitting pattern books, but use them more as inspiration for a basic idea and then create my own pattern using a combination of methods in Knitting in the Old Way and/or using measurements of sweaters I own. Despite the etxra work, it's worth the time to do the necessary calculations and swatches to end up with a sweater that I like rather than following (an often) cryptic pattern and ending up with a sweater that doesn't fit very well.

bobshome's picture

Hello Alla 1) Yes I do knit

Hello Alla
1) Yes I do knit in public. Usually in airplanes and the staff often comments/inquires on the project at hand. Most likely what they would discuss with any woman knitting as well. Always a comfortable conversation. Neighboring passengers just glance over and pretend they didn't just see what they just saw - lol.
2) I do participate in a formal knitting group hosted by my LYS once a month where we compare projects and new materials and see new goods at the shop. There are other men there as well and it's always a terrific evening of good food, good wine and terrific people.
3)I think VOGUE understands fashion more than anyone. While I don't have a favorite men's pattern book, when I find a pattern I like (often by PHILDAR) I will resize and make personal changes using the techniques in "VOGUE KNITTING THE ULTIMATE KNITTING BOOK". This enables me to customize any garment.

good luck with the article.

Tom Hart's picture

I do knit in public. Mostly

I do knit in public. Mostly on public transportation. I've never gotten comments. And I'm a little annoyed about it. I really put on a show. I use the Portuguese method (yarn around the neck) which in itself makes me look like I'm from before the industrial revolution and I'm always doing a two-color project of some kind or other and lately I've been double knitting! What am I supposed to do? Get up and tap dance while I'm knitting?!

The only time I've ever gotten a comment was while knitting in a park. I was working on a double-knit cotton rug with a Fair Isle motif and a woman came up and sat down beside me and asked me if I was making that. She couldn't quite believe it. She told me that when she was a school girl during the Second World War she used to knit socks for the soldiers. But, says she, that was a long time ago and she no longer knew how to knit. She seemed like she really did want to knit again. I suggested that it was like riding a bike but her belief that she didn't know how to knit any longer seemed pretty strong. (And she used to make socks, no less!) Too bad.

teejtc's picture

1) I knit in public

1) I knit in public occasionally and seldom get many comments at all. Occasionally disdain, more frequently curiosity.

2) I don't do any knitting groups - the commitment is more than I have time and energy for right now.

3) My favorite book is "The Knitting (Man)ual" by Kristin Spurkland. My favorite designer is currently Jared Flood.

Grace and Peace,

gardenguy42's picture

Glad to be of help. And

Glad to be of help. And MMario, I am a lefty who knits right-handed too! LOL

1. Do you sometimes knit in public? If so, what type of comments from people around you do you get?

I just flew back “home” for Christmas and was in 5 different airports. I was delayed on the original flight and spent several hours working on a sock. I knit at every one of the airports and on the flight. Not a single comment or glance (that I noticed, anyway). That may be because I’m 6’2”, 215 lbs., and a bit intimidating in appearance (or so I’ve been told) until you realize I’m a teddy bear of gentleness, <<>>

2. Do you participate in the formal knitting group? Are you aware of any women only (not open to men) or men only knitting circles aside from the men knitting retreat?

I am a member of The Knitting Guild of America, which is by far mostly women. There are no knitting groups close enough to where I live or which meet at times that I am available.

3. There are several books that offer patterns for men. For example, Margaret Hubert's 'Knits for Men", Debbie Stoller's "Son of Stitch'n'Bitch', or Bruce Weinstein's 'Knits Men Want". Do you have a favourite book (not necessarily from my list)? Do you have a favourite design for men?

I design my own knitwear using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s percentage system and Barbara Walker’s stitch patterns. I’ve seen very, very few patterns that I liked in books, whether written “for” men or women knitters. Too bland, too generic, too plain, too boring, too much piecework. I do like some of Jared Flood’s work and I check out patterns on Ravelry for inspiration occasionally.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

New York Built's picture

At lunch today, I had the

At lunch today, I had the opportunity to talk with a young black hand knitwear designer and artisan. Our discussion centered on the concerns of male knitters, the patterns that get published, and the reasons for such boring and uninspiring fare almost universally available. The theories flew.

1. Since the majority of knitters are women, they are the ones who have to be attracted to the design. Therefore, they know the type of clothing worn by their significant don't try anything off the well-worn pathway. Women can be so conservative...look at contemporary fashion.

2. A man should never wear anything more becoming than a cereal box, because the last thing his woman needs is some hussy trollop preening at him and his clothes.

3. Similarly, if it is a large investment of time and energy, the female knitter will not waste time, budget or stash on a garment her man might not, will not, cannot wear. In other words, NSFW. (Not Safe For Work)

4. The men who DO knit are all gay, and they'll go for the colorful, well-fitted, striking or unusual knitwear. Why tempt other men to hit on him and possibly have him switch to the other stadium?

5. The only men who wear colorful, well-fitted, striking or unusual hand knitwear ARE gay. We would endanger the welfare of our unit, destroy camaraderie in the group, unravel the fabric of society...oops, wrong argument and subject. Sorry!

New York Built's picture

I miss the connection

I miss the connection between the first question and your stated point for this article. If women are the research subjects, why do you ask if men have reactions by others to their knitting? Strange.

Male knitting groups are all over the US. Mixed sex groups are far more numerous.

Most designs for men assume a limited color palate, a conservative boxy fit to hide a narrow chest, thin arms and an ample waist and a low tolerance to innovative yarns, unusual construction and creative stitch-work.

Since the advent of the so-called digital generation, all we have created is a large group of young people who cannot focus on one thing at a time, need directions for everything so multiple-tasking is possible and who publish first, then edit.

Tallguy's picture

These are all questions that

These are all questions that have been discussed in our forums for a very long time. All you need to do is go through the past posts, and you will find all you need. After that, you should be able to come up with some original questions that will help resolve issues not yet covered.

steve kadel's picture

1) i often knit in public

1) i often knit in public and still don't know what to say when they regularly comment, "i've never seen a man knit," when clearly they just have. once, an orthodox jewish woman laughed at me and said men are not allowed to knit. let's just say i didn't agree with whatever authority she thought could ban me from it.

2) no formal group. sometimes i form one myself, mostly men, sometimes i'll join one at lys, usually the only man. one lys invited me to formally start one, but i didn't want to responsibility to sustain it.

3) none of those books do much for me. i have made sevearl things from queensland collection, jane ellison, and have an old fillatura di crosa pattern book from the mid 80s that i am still making things from. in general, i think men's patterns suck and i have to put far too much effort in finding good ones

we won't just get a cat, nubby nu nu, will manifest a kitten from our love...and lint from our hemp socks

I'm fairly new to MWK, and

I'm fairly new to MWK, and I've read quite a number of blogs and comments, but haven't thus far participated in blogging or commenting. I'm not computer literate enough to know how to load pictures and thought I would wait until somebody can help me. But your questions bear some responding to.

1. Yes, I knit in public. I learned to knit while stationed in Iceland in 1983. Prior to that I was a closet crocheter for 12+ years. I knew that if I was going to take advantage of a knitting class offered by the USO with an Icelandic knitter, I would be in with a group of women. And I was. I learned continental style (all our teacher would allow) with the Icelandic sweater we made as we learned to knit. I took her second course, too, which was to make another Icelandic sweater, but with a purl row down the center front which was then cut to make a cardigan. I told the instructor, "I can do this, but can you teach me something else during this class? I want to make a lace shawl." So she worked with me separately. Since then I have been a knitter and a very open one. Whenever I fly, I knit both on the flight and in waiting rooms. It helps me stay relaxed and focused on something different from the turbulence and fills otherwise wasted time. Usually I engage in conversation about knitting with my seat mate or someone close to me. The attendants generally are quite intrigued to see a male knitter. A couple of times when there was an empty seat next to me and the attendant wasn't otherwise engaged in her duties, she would sit down beside me, and we would have a very open discourse about knitting. I even got a hug from one attendant as I was deplaning, which amused the pilot. (Men who knit in public are chick magnets!!)

For the past four years I have been meeting with my spinning buddy at a coffee shop weekly when I am home. We sometimes spin, but often we knit or crochet, just to draw attention to the fiberarts and to try to get a group started. Occasionally we would be joined by someone local. Both men and women have come to our table and asked questions about our activity. But it finally happened last year; some fiber artists, with my spinning buddy and me as catalysts, formed a group called Fiber Fanatics of Northwest Oklahoma (FFONWOK), and we meet monthly except during the summer.

2. No, I do not participate in a formal knitting group. It's too far from Woodward in NW Oklahoma to drive to Oklahoma City to participate in one. The best thing available here is meeting with my friend Sherry, my spinning buddy mentioned above, at the coffee shop. Since my interest in fiber primarily puts me in groups with women, I feel that I and my projects are usually the objects of interest. Since 1992 I have been submitting items in the annual juried show Fiberworks (year) in Oklahoma City sponsored by Fiber Artists of Oklahoma (FAO), which mostly involves female artists, but accepts items made by men for display. As far as I recall, I have been the only male to submit knitted items. Typical male submissions are weavings, masks, and cast paper objects. Again, I feel accepted within the group and know many of the members by name and by their style of art. I don't know of any groups in my area that are exclusively for women or for men, but the steretypical practitioners of the fiber arts are women, who, therefore, predominate.

Allow me to say that men were also freed by the feminist movement. Women are accepted into groups as members that used to be all male. I haven't had a problem working in the opposite direction. If I am interested in something or want to participate in an interest area with others of the same interest, I don't care what the make-up of the group is. I swallowed that pill a long time ago, and it hasn't been bitter.

3. For several years Alice Starmore's book on Fair Isle Knitting was my standard reference book since I did a lot of projects (vests, caps, wall hangings) that involved stranded knitting. The last several years I have been making lace shawls and table cloths. I have quite a number of books of folk shawls, traditional Shetland shawls, and Orenburg lace shawls. When I find a pattern I like, I work it, and occasionally I design my own. And Mmario is an inspiration as well. I have made two Queen Anne's Lace tablecloths (since I made them with handspun flax), and a Spanish Armada shawl. There really isn't a favorite reference book that I have since I draw something from several. I have bought a couple of books for male knitters with more "manly" projects, but I have yet to make anything from them. As knitted presents for my three sons, I usually make them caps and scarves. My daughter and daughters-in-law are the ones who have benefitted the most, though, since each of them owns at least three lace shawls I have made. For myself I make vests and sometimes a sweater.

So there are my comments to your questions. If there is anything else you'd like to know, ask. And you may use my name.

Charles Sides

MMario's picture

1) frequently. I get more

1) frequently.
I get more comments on being left handed then being male. Though I can't figure out how they know I am left handed since I knit right handed.

2) I don't do any formal knitting groups - the only local one I know of meets during working hours 35 miles away from my place of work.

3) I occasionally look at men's patterns (I do't really know why as I don't wear knits except for socks - and only wear hand knit socks for special occasions because I wear them out too fast) - but almost never find the combination of a design I like and a pattern that would fit me; Many patterns the largest size is 48' actual measurement at the chest; I take a 54' without allowing for ease