Manly men knit, right?!

Earlier this week, I had mentioned in my email newsletter that Nathan was embarrassed to let his friends know that he knits. Well, I got so many email responses from wonderful, supportive readers that I thought it would be great to post this on Steamy Kitchen and let Nathan read all the responses.

Last Thursday, we had a neurological check up for his epilepsy (which is now under control, thankfully) and he had to draw blood for routine analysis. Nathan is terrified of the needles (as am I) – we were in the waiting room for a good 20 minutes while he cringed in the corner. Every time the door opened and a nurse came out to call the next victim’s name, Nathan would just have this dreadful look. Poor baby.

He tried so hard to convince me that the nurses were out to lunch already and maybe we should come back another day (didn’t work). When they finally called his name, he took the tinest of baby steps, hoping that by the time he reached the evil blood sucking station, they’d forget about him (nope). Without any other excuse or stalling tactic in his pocket – he braved the needle. Surprisingly, no screams, no tears this time. He gave up, gritted his teeth and took it like a big boy.

We walked out and I said, “You were so awesome that I’m going to let you ditch school the rest of the day!” And so we partied the rest of the afternoon, frozen yogurt with 3 toppings, Barnes & Noble book spree, lunch at McDonalds and a visit to my local yarn store, The Good Yarn in Sarasota. Owner Susan and the ladies who work there are amazing – they’ve seen me through my beginner days when they sat patiently teaching me how to knit – and have watched me grow into a freaky speedy knitter who has trouble finishing projects because there’s always something shiny new catching my eye (I know, I have issues).

My boys have always embraced arts and craft (though, what kid doesn’t?!), so much that we built a ‘craft room’ in the back of the house, filled with markers of every shade, enough glitter to fill the swimming pool, crafty paper in pretty patterns and a massive square table to work on. This is also where I keep the yarn stash, I think we have enough yarn to knit a striped scarf from here to Texas.

Part of my yarn stash. Some of my needles. I keep the straight and double pointed needles in vintage blue glass mason jars. The rest of my yarn stash is hidden from my husband.

Normally, when I go to the yarn shop, the boys are with me and they LOVE helping wind the yarn, picking out colors with me and getting tons of attention from the ladies who come to sit around the table to knit. It’s social hour every hour there at The Good Yarn.

A pillow I’ve got to finish up – based on The Beekeeper’s Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits – knitting a giant quilt that takes a year to finish is too big of a project for me, but a pillow for the couch is perfect!

This particular afternoon, Nathan asked Amy, one of the ladies who works there, if she could teach him how to knit. A little boy asking to knit!? In a roomful of cheek pinching grandmothers!? It was as if angels overhead had started singing.

I’ve known Amy for a long time now – my first stitch that I casted on was 9 years ago, when I was pregnant with Andrew. Mimi (what my kids call Scott’s mom) taught me the basic stitches and I took off from there, daydreaming about knitting baby booties and cuddly hats. Amy taught me the rest – complicated stitches, how to read patterns and walked several miles going around and around in the store looking for the perfect yarn for my project. She even knew me when I told her, “I think I want to start a food blog.”

My boys looooove Amy. And so Nathan sat down with her and she began teaching him, step by step, stitch by stitch.

While at the shop, he finished a little knitted patch, Amy helped him bind off and they tied the two ends together to make it into a cool necklace which he proudly wore. He was so excited and proud of himself that he spent his own allowance to buy needles and a skein of bright green yarn.

On the way to school to pick up Andrew, he took off his necklace, put it in my purse and said to me, “Mommy, I took it off because I don’t want my friends to laugh at me for knitting, okay?”

awwwwww….sobsobsob…..oh that’s so sad. But I didn’t say anything to him right then while I was driving….there really was nothing I could say that would change his mind at that time. It would take more than “mommy saying so.” I needed references, support, physical proof that manly men knit, that knitting was cool, that the kids at school wouldn’t make fun of him (or if they did, that it wouldn’t matter.)

My winter yarn is at the bottom…you can tell summer is almost here by the happy colors on top!

After I sent out the email to my newsletter subscribers, reader Kathy emailed, “I thought you might like to know about Rosey Grier. He was a pro football player, whose hobby was knitting and needlepoint. He even wrote a book about needlepoint for men. You can’t get more manly than that. You can Google him and read all about it.”

Another reader, Faleen, pointed out that football great, Rosey Grier, wrote a book on needlepoint and loved to knit! I’ve just now found out that Laurence Fishburne, Ringo Star and Russell Crowe knit too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and any special messages you have for Nathan – I’ll be reading the responses to him! 



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Comments 65

  1. Su Su

    Dear Nathan,
    I remember reading in one of Diana Gabaldon’s time traveler books that Scottish men who lived during the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie knitted! They did it when they were walking from one place to another and when they were hunting – that is when they were waiting for the boar/deer to show up. This means that men throughout the ages have knitted! It’s just grown to be more a woman’s craft in recent times. So, you are just a member of the historical society of men who knit. Well done! It’s great to hear that you have learned a craft with such a long tradition and history. It also great that in this day and age, the men & women roles are blurring, in other words, men can do things which were thought to be things only women did traditionally and women can do things that were traditionally thought that only men can do. It’s really gives everyone a sense of freedom because it means that we (whether men or women) can do what we like or what we are gifted at without being limited to what we are supposed to be doing according to our sex. ^_^

  2. deniz

    I think it’s awesome that he wants to learn to knit – I always like a man with a hobby 🙂
    Love your gorgeous stash, and especially that pillow! What a great project. Sooo tempted… but no, I’ve got to finish all the ones I’ve started!

  3. deniz

    Oh, and Su Su’s right! Jamie Fraser and Ian Murray of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books are both knitters!

  4. Brian

    Lots of guys I know knit, we all seem to enjoy it. I’ve made enough hats to give to everyone I know overtime. There are lots of opportunities online to find good sources of things to knit, socks are particularly fun and useful. You can see a lot of them online on a knitting website (, you have to have an account) that has a lot of patterns and places you can ask questions if you get stuck on a pattern, its a lot of fun and even if you stop doing it for a while, you will come back. My nanny taught me to crochet when I was about 10 and I didn’t do it for many years, but started again when I was older. I’m happy that I have those memories, keep up the good work and have your mom post some photos of your work.

  5. Kim Bee

    I say no boundaries these days. My son had a doll, and he’s now 23, relatively normal (lol) and off to get his phd. You met him at FBF, totally well balanced kid. My daughter played every sport known to man, including more manly ones. She’s still a tomboy and it’s all good. I think it’s healthy to let them pursue their interests regardless of gender roles and peer pressure. He’s a total cutie and you’re great parents. So it’s all good. And seriously there’s ballers that do it so it can’t be all bad.

  6. Liz

    Hi, Nathan!
    It is SO GOOD that you knit! Think of all the wonderful things you can make for yourself, your family, and your friends! I know that your friends would really appreciate a hat or scarf that you made for them, and would probably wear them all the time. Maybe some of your guy friends want to knit, or already do, but are too shy or embarrassed to say so. Maybe some of them don’t even know what knitting is, and you might spark that creativity and curiosity in them. You can teach them! My partner, Mike, is trying to learn to knit, and my son, Ethan, is still too little to be able to knit, but he pretends. I know even more guys who crochet! 🙂 There are probably a lot more men and boys that knit than you think! Good for you for doing what you like. You are inspirational.
    Happy knitting, kid!

  7. Anna

    Well, my nephew Kai is 6, lives in Palo Alto, and really loves to knit. I can understand your concern, but I don’t think anyone has made fun of him for it. Yet. I know it’s hard, but if you let everyone decide what you should do, you will never do anything you enjoy! The more boys and men knit, the more ‘normal’ it will become, so my advice to you is to do what you love.

  8. Cathj

    Dear Nathan,

    You inspired me to start on kniting. I always wanted to do kniting, but by looking at the needles.. I thought I might not able to do it.. So i forget about it. By reading this post.. I am so inspired because if little Nathan can do it.. A grown up aunt like me sure can too.. Haha.. Thank you again and keep knitting ya.. 🙂

  9. Diedra B

    this might be the unpopular position to take but I think it’s okay not to inform people about things they likely will not understand or appreciate. I don’t think Nathan has to hide his knitting but maybe the kids at school aren’t ready yet?
    please delete if you don’t want him to read this.

  10. Barbara

    The term knitting was originally knotting, which is what the fisherman used to have to know. It was always done by men at one time. Macramé is another form of the same genre. Cub Scouts are taught a lot of knots, and my 9 year old grandson is extremely adept at knot tying, which has earned him recognition. Knitting is simply knotting with tools, so it must be higher on the evolutionary scale, I’m thinking! Go, Nathan! I used to love to knit, and I learned the Scandinavian method, which is about 10 times faster than the way we Americans do it. I may even go back to it one day.

  11. Barbara

    Oh, and here’s another little known fact: During WWII lots of boys knitted things for our soldiers. My brother was one of them. He enjoyed a lifelong interest in knotting as an adult and learned many techniques like the monkey’s fist and other knots that are practical as well as decorative. The beginners knitted scarves and caps, and with more experience, they learned to knit socks and gloves which were so badly needed by our soldiers that thousands of men, women, boys, and girls did it to keep the supply up with the tremendous need.

  12. kika


    I say good for you! Learning anything new is hard. You just made it double tough by picking something that you’re not only learning with your mind but your body too. Lots of types of men and boys knit just like lots of kinds of women and girls knit.

    A lot of football players do ballet in the off season, did you know? It’s the most demanding for their bodies. American football players that is, I haven’t followed world football (soccer) in years. I only know because I had to help make a grown up fight so my little sister could play soccer. They said no, because she was a girl she could *gasp* get hurt. Its 8 and 9 and 10 year olds. They all are going to get hurt a little. So I went to libraries and used card catalogs and took a lot of notes. Depending on where and when you live or lived all the “girly” things like dancing on stage and baking and weaving were all men’s jobs.

    Wear it to school if you can. Probably no one will notice or care. If someone asks you can proudly say you made it. First try. I did it myself. If you’re nervous you don’t have to offer that it’s knitted. Only another yarn person could guess, I promise. It’s also okay if you take it off partway through the day too.

    Many famous male (and female) actors knit. They’d be easy to find.

    I sadly only have little girls but they can all knit. My older two did martial arts and aside from one mother were the only girls. But they went over a year and had so much fun! If it’s fun to you, it makes your tummy happy, (and no one’s getting hurt) then who cares what hobby or sport you do? YOU.

    My grandma used to say that everyone was much more concerned with the run in her **own** stocking, and she is right.

    Knit on! Or not, because you’re awesome just for trying and learning. If you love it, do it.

    kika, mama to girls but big sister and cousin to mainly boys

  13. Amanda Johnson

    I don’t knit but I do crochet and so do my son’s art is art and it is not gender limited I hate the stipulations put on genders specifically males for example if a man loves the color pink or purple they are considered less of a man but girls can love any color and any craft and still be accepted as feminine I personally hate that I have 4 boys and I hope to change the mind set of ppl everywhere starting with my own boys

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