Knitters of the world, untie

Nathan Baker • Dec 17, 2018 at 9:30 AM

I’m a man who knits, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

In the past few decades, knitting seems to somehow have become associated with old, feeble grandmothers, quietly clicking their needles away in a rocking chair, making ugly sweaters and misshapen socks.

First, that’s not even an accurate characterization of the women I know who knit. Most of them are absolute mean mothers and agitators. Calling them feeble would get you a devastating eyeroll, and you’d be lucky if that’s the worst you get.

But for men interested in DIY, what is a better exercise in self-sufficiency than using your own hands to make something that will keep you from freezing to death in the harsh, cold winter?

Through history, men have used knitting to provide for and protect themselves and their families, starting with fishermen who knotted strings together into nets to increase their hauls. Using similar techniques, men later looped yarn to make warm garments.

After they started selling them, they formed knitters guilds to protect the quality and prices of their products. During both world wars, schoolchildren, including boys, were taught to knit and contributed to the war effort by knitting for troops stationed in cold climes.

So, I don’t understand the modern perception that has relegated it to the realm of shriveled biddies.

When you boil it down, it’s simple and binary. Two basic stitches, knits and purls. Loop them together in different combinations to form a pattern, sort of like a computer code, but with yarn.

It’s the simplicity, I think, that appeals to me.

I use knitting as a stress-reliever. Sitting quietly and repetitively counting stitches, like counting sheep, occupies the conscious portion of my brain and ties my worries up with each loop.

Some health professionals say the repetition of needlework can bring on a meditative state, which can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. I believe it.

Growing up, mom was a frequent crocheter, and she could knit, but I didn’t learn it from her.

I became interested later in life, and turned to the DIYer’s favorite classroom, YouTube, to learn how it works.

I’m not what I would call a master craftsman, but I’ve taken on some projects, like an R2D2 beanie and a cabled, Celtic knot scarf that seemed fairly complex. I’m not yet ready for something as large as a sweater.

So far, all of my projects have been for me, which is a little selfish, but it allows to me knit at my own pace, which is tremendously slow. I can spend a few particularly higher-stress weeks knitting, then set the whole thing down for months at a time and not have to worry about having promised a finished scarf or hat to somebody. I’ll likely pick out some patterns for gifts for close family sometime soon, but for now, I’m just doing me.

I’m always looking for ideas and patterns, so I’d like to see some of your knitted projects. Send me photos of your best needlework to [email protected].

If there are any fellow guy knitters out there, I’d like to hear from you, too. Maybe we can start a guild.

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