Manly men knit, right?!

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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! 

 

 

Comments 63

  1. Laura M.

    I have a dear friend who also happens to be a semipro wrestler…like the guys in WWE and Impact Wrestling. He’s been doing it the entire time I’ve known him. He’s huge, he’s super manly, and he crochets.

    Yes, the man crochets. Keeps his mind busy when he has downtime. His grandmother taught him to crochet when he was a littleun’.

  2. Anne

    Jaden,

    My son is 8 and had blood drawn yesterday at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. He is terrified of needles and I was prepared for a complete meltdown. But it turned out to be a fairly pleasant experience for not only my son, but for me. They sprayed something on his arm at the site of where the needle would go. This stuff froze (which numbed) the area. They said it was like holding a Popsicle on your skin. He didn’t feel a thing. I held him and turned his head away from the blood draw and we all talked about Star Wars and Legos.

  3. Emily

    Have you heard of or seen the movie Dragon Hunters? The main character (male) is a huge dragon hunter, who also knits. It actually ends up being a very important part of the story, as his knitting needles save the day. I would suggest watching the movie with your son, or even better – inviting some of his friends over for a movie party to watch it together. Obviously you son enjoys knitting, it’s the friends whose minds need to be changed!

  4. sally cameron

    Good for Nathan! I think that’s terrific! And you are a good mom (of course) for encouraging him to do things that make him happy. All kids, well most everyone, enjoys crafts. Reading your post makes me miss my craft time Jaden. I used to scrapbook regularly and must get back to it. I used to needlepoint and loved it. Blogging has taken over my life. Must amend my schedule somehow. Last note, my previous husband once needlepointed me a pillow just to say he did it! He was the executive business type, and he’d take his little kit on the plane when he flew for business. The stories he could tell were a riot! The guys got weird, the gals all loved it. Go Nathan!

  5. Chandelle

    My kids attend a Waldorf school where all children learn to knit, as well as crochet, cook, and sew. My son is 7 and knitting is the thing he loves best (followed closely by needle-felting). He spends most of his time on the weekend knitting. He’s never received a message that knitting is just for girls (or that anything related to girls is negative). He just experiences pure joy in it. He’s so proud of himself every time he finishes a project. He even taught me to knit, and what a kick he got out of that! I love that he has this opportunity. I didn’t learn ANY practical skills in school. I find it indescribably sad that anyone would find this cause for teasing.

  6. Betsy T

    Saw this through a friend’s post on Facebook. I think the grand prize winner in the Lion Brand Yarn contest was a guy this year! So tell your son, yes, boys can knit. (My best friend’s husband knits, too.)

  7. anna*

    One of my best friends in college (Noah!) knitted me a scarf that I still wear every winter. Go Nathan :)

  8. warren

    I knit. I also arc weld.

    If you want comfy wool socks, you either marry someone who’ll knit them for you or learn to make them yourself. Stephanie (http://www.yarnharlot.ca/) is taken and my wife doesn’t knit.

    Really the whole notion that manly men don’t do X is pretty bogus. Is it manly to stand around helplessly when a button comes off and you don’t know how to sew it back on? Is it manly to live on canned soup and sardines because you never learned to cook? Manliness (and womanliness) is learning to set a goal and learning the skills needed to get there and if you can have fun at the same time, so much the better.

    As for dealing with the vampires, stare at the ceiling and talk about something — what you had for lunch, why pandas have better PR agents than koalas, Keysian economic theory….

  9. Maureen

    Kaffee Fassett is an international artist who knits, quilts, designs fabric, writes books – and is a man. He has made a very successful career out of this.

  10. Georgia

    How wonderful that you are learning to knit. My husband sews all of our curtains and is better than I am with the sewing machine. He also runs marathons and plays competive volleyball. It is alsways nice to do things you enjoy doing.

  11. claire

    ravelry.com currently has Ravelry has 2,143,254 registered users, and about 1% of those are men. My husband actually bought himself a spinning wheel, so that he could spin yarn for me (since I knit him socks, hats, vests etc). He used to be a motorcycle mechanic, and loves wheels and thought a spinning wheel would be fun and a challenge.

  12. Jeffery Dar

    Its okay to knit, there are many famous people in sports that knit,basketball players and football players and some wrestlers all knit, they say it helps them deal with stress and they say they enjoy it and relaxes them. So if its cool with them, knock yourself out,and don;t let peer pressure stop u if u like it. Think of it like cooking, some of the best cooks are men and if u like ,do it
    Jeff Dar

  13. Tess

    I love this quilt… is there an easy set of instructions… want to teach my granddaughters!

  14. Zac

    I am a male knitter myself. Most people know that I knit, and they usually think that its cool. Lots of friends want me to knit socks for them. It should also be pointed out that many martial arts masters take up knitting as a way to relax between matches.

  15. Liz

    Hi Jaden!
    Few links!
    http://www.krochetkids.org/who-we-are/our-story/ Some guys who started a non-profit helping people in Uganda and Peru by crocheting (still, a ‘woman’s” craft)

    I heard a great podcast once on the history of knitting… Apparently, it’s believed that men started the knitting tradition by making and repairing fishing and other nets. too bad i couldn’t find the podcast again!

  16. Helen

    I learned how to knit from a lady whose grandchild I was babysitting. I always take my little projects home with me on my days off and would do some knitting at home. My younger brother, learned from watching me do it. I was greatly impressed by his ability to learn and very proud of him, indeed.

  17. Les

    I have been knitting and crocheting and doing counted cross stitch since I was kid. My brother does amazing counted cross stitch and is currently trying to become a fireman. My boyfriend doesn’t sew often, but he knows how to put on a button and fix small tears and rips in his clothes. Just because someone says “oh that’s a girls thing” is no reason to stop doing it. Likely they have no idea what they are talking about, and are also often jealous that there is a skill they do not possess and are too afraid to ask how. I constantly have my guy friends asking me to teach them how to knit or crochet because they want to make something for their mom or girlfriends. The larger variety of skills you have the more well rounded a person you are. So I say keep going and learn what skills you want to learn, to heck with what anyone else says, you are a better person for it.

  18. Candice

    Your son Nathan shouldn’t be ashamed at all. In fact, I think some kids might think he’s cool because he knits.

    Case in point, my little brother (also named Nathan) has always been crafty. First it was origami, for which other boys at school tried to make fun of him about until he folded up an origami dragon. He also made dollar bills into ninja stars, and so everyone was coming to him to fold up their cash. Origami flowers were very popular with the girls. ;)

    Then I taught him to knit a slouchy beanie and fingerless gloves. The kids at school didn’t make fun of him, they were amazed (or in disbelief) that he made those things and would ask him to make them a pair too. He doesn’t exactly have the resources to make everyone knitted things but generally his classmates think he’s awesome and talented for it.

    If that isn’t enough, let’s look to actors:
    David Arquette knits! Ryan Gosling knits!

    Oh, and the manliest of them all– My boyfriend knits!
    I taught him over a year ago and he has made me the best knitted accessories ever and I love him for it.

  19. Jen da purse Ho

    all boys should learn to knit with their mama’s. I think it’s beautiful and sweet that he wants to. :)

    encourage him! tell him it’s a chick magnet! :) tee hee. good skill to have later!!

  20. Carol Lynn

    Oh, this post makes me so happy! I know a Nathan who is a knitter as well, and he is also very embarrassed about it. I keep trying to get him to come to our local knitters guild with me, but he refuses to do it. :( My mom tried to teach me how to knit when I was growing up, and I had a really hard time knitting on the slick metal needles. My stitches kept falling off, and eventually I gave up. After college, though, I bought a pair of bamboo needles (not quite as slick as the metal ones) and I haven’t stopped knitting since!

    A friend of mine who teaches high school English told me that several of his students (boys and girls) knit or crochet their own hats. It’s totally THE thing to do at his school, and apparently all of the varsity wrestlers make their own hats.

  21. Diana Johnson

    Hi Nathan! You are growing up SO fast! I think it’s really cool that you are learning to knit. I wish that I knew how to knit, in fact I think you have inspired me to try and learn.

    I know that sometimes kids at school can say hurtful things and that’s really hard. Sometimes it’s because they really wish they could do what you do, sometimes it’s just because they’re mean. You are an amazing kid and if you feel good about knitting and proud of the things you make, don’t let teasing keep you from doing it.

    I won’t say that no one will tease you, because I can’t promise that. But I know a lot of really manly guys (some play in rock bands, some are professional hunters, some are professional athletes, even a police man and a firefighter) who knit, and almost everyone thinks it’s cool. If anyone does tease you about it, you have really awesome parents to talk to about it and they can help you know what to do.

    I hope that helps. You are one cool kid and I hope to get to see you again soon!

  22. Jessica

    Hello Nathan,

    I think it’s really cool that you’ve learned how to knit. Throughout your life there will always be people who don’t think the things you do are cool. That’s okay. If those things make you happy then that’s what’s important. When I was young, people used to make fun of me because I dressed funny and listened to weird music and liked to make my own clothes (knitting and sewing). Now, I work in the fashion industry and get to make clothes everyday! Nobody makes fun of me anymore. They all think what I do is really cool – and I didn’t change at all!

    Sometimes you just have to stick with what makes you happy and when your friends see that you’re happy they will be happy for you, too.

  23. Amanda M

    Well, Nathan, Do you know that back in history in Europe, MEN were the only ones that knit! Women weren’t allowed to cuz it was seen as a men’s chore (because it took so much time and women had a lot of housework to do). Fishing nets were knit and had to be mended by the fishermen. Soldiers in most of the wars would knit their socks while they were chillin’ in the trenches. Let’s not forget all the men today who knit…I know this might not mean much coming from a girl….but many men knit to calm their nerves. I have personally been approached by many grown men on the bus and train(the CTA here in Chicago) who knit. One man carried around pictures of all his work in a picture book. Everything he knit was white! He knit sweaters, blankets, socks, and baby things. He told me that his wife didn’t knit but he started when he got back from serving in the military.

    I can tell you of many men who frequent my local yarn store who knit the most amazing lace shawls! Let’s not forget Franklin Habit! There are quite a few male knitters who blog, you should look them up. I personally have a good knitting friend who is male. Well, mostly he crochets….but I’ll throw him a bone! ;) He’s been crocheting since he was 5!

    Rock on with your bad self! There is nothing harder than being yourself but it totally pays off in the end. Think of what you could be doing in 10 years if you stick with it! Who knows, someday, you may be an editor of a famous knitting magazine!

  24. Rico Blanco

    Hi Jaden,

    One of my coworkers forwarded to me your blog as she found that I would find it interesting.

    Being and avid knitter and crocheter for over 30 years, I can safely say that knitting and crocheting has enhanced my life. Learning to crochet wasn’t an easy task, I had the enthusiasm and my mom crocheted on a daily basis, however, she refused to teach me, because she said that my father would be upset. Every day, I begged for her to teach me, when one day, she tossed a ball of yarn my way and told me to “have at it”. Not having a crochet hook, I taught myself to crochet using my fingers. My mom seeing my project the next day eventually gave me a crochet hook and taught me the finer points of crochet. Eventually, I began to knit also (something that my mom still does not know how to do). The tables have turned and my mom asks me for assistance with learning a new pattern or a new stitch. I am now 40 years old and I’m an avid fiber enthusiasts. Please let Nathan know that there were times when I was afraid to knit on Chicago’s Public Transit system and that now I freely knit wherever I am. Please also let him know that I am a Marathon Coach and that I have played recreational softball for years. Also, let him know that my son has had epileptic seizures and overtime it will get better and that less shots will be necessary. I’ve included a link to a recent segment I was in for WGN News I’m the guy in the black baseball cap http://www.wgntv.com/videogallery/67064046/Food/Around-Town:-Evil-Squirrel-Comics#pl-62806755

    Happy Knitting

  25. Ave

    I’ve been knitting for over 45 years and am definitely of the male persuasion. Although my wife taught me, at this point she often comes to me for advice. Men have always knit (see “War and Peace”). I also sew. Just have the courage to be yourself.

  26. Karla

    I love that pillow! I need to learn to knit….

    Anyway, years ago my dad casually mentioned that he wanted to learn to knit. At the time, he was in his early 50’s, a Washington state mountain man–a big guy with a bushy beard and a deep, deep voice. I bought him knitting stuff for Christmas and he took off! He would go to the local knitting store and sit with the old ladies and they loved him. He knit us hats (one of my favorite snow hats), booties for the kids, and lots of other cool stuff.

    Also, Waldorf Schools are advocates of knitting for both sexes and you will regularly see Waldorf kids knitting. I think knitting would be great for my son–he needs that calming influence.

    Keep Knitting Andrew!

  27. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    Hi Nathan,

    I’m so glad you are doing well and have found interest in knitting. Just remember, do whatever that makes you happy :)

    Knitting is not easy and isn’t for everyone — you are so talented and cool :)

    So proud of you!!!

  28. Adrienne

    Yeah, see, a lot of people don’t know that a big hurdle left in feminism and gender equality is de-stigmatizing “girl” things so that EVERYONE can enjoy them!

  29. hi

    If you haven’t encountered it, look for the menwhoknit.com website.

  30. Monica S

    Ever since my son was a wee tot, he embraced arts and crafts to its fullest and knitting, crocheting, and embroidery was no exception. One day I asked why he pursued these particular interests and he said he liked giving unique gifts to his friends. Personally, I have been the lucky recipient of knitted scarves which come in handy for Bay Area CA weather. Yet, one of my concerns as a parent was how my son was coping with teasing or name calling from his peers (like golf alpha yankee or foxtrot alpha golf) and my son nonchalantly responded that “yes, it happens”. Although the name calling ceased in high school, I did take the time to explain to my son that when people see things that they are not familiar with or find something confusing, they sometimes have a knee jerk reaction (like name calling) as a way to deal with their confusion or fear. During my son’s elementary summer school years, he volunteered as an art and knitting teacher’s assistant. One of the benefits of these jobs was that my son was able to obtain glowing recommendations for a paid job he applied for in high school and for private college applications. I’d say that knitting (and machine embroidery, too) has served him well. Nathan, pursue your passion and ignore the naysayers.

  31. Grace

    My 14 year old son knits…. He started a year ago. My daughter 23 taught him last Summer. He is very good and cranks out great Christmas presents! We went to a knitting group late last Summer, he was a little embarrassed at the beginning. As the ladies that were there talked about their sons and husbands that knit, and how much better they are at knitting, he felt more comfortable. It is not unusual to see my son laying on the sofa watching TV and knitting. I think it is pretty darn cool! :)

  32. Jeff

    Early Vikings did a form of knitting/crochet to make nets to catch food. My grandpa knit his own socks during World War I…it was either that or not have socks. Knitting improves hand/eye coordination, and it’s just plain COOL.

    I’ve been a knitter for FIVE years now. It relaxes me when I’m stressed, and my scarves are the envy of anyone who sees them. Knitting is COMPLETELY cool, and I applaud Nathan for taking up such a historical and TOTALLY manly past time!!

  33. JulieD

    Nathan, I love that you’re knitting! I want you to learn how to knit a blanket so you can teach me the next time I see you, okay? :D

  34. KittenWithAWhiplash

    Hey Nathan! Yes, Manly Men Knit. And Crochet. And Sew. And Cook. And Paint or Scuplt or do Woodworking . All kinds of men – firemen, doctors, teachers, sports players, businessmen, and even young men like you – do all kinds of things for hobbies. Some men even do them as thier main job.

    You are learning to knit, and it is something that you should be proud of. It is a skill that lets you use your hands and your mind to create useful things to wear or use around the house, and that’s good.

    I’m a guy who started crocheting when I was about 7 or 8, sewing about high school age, and now I also knit. I like to make hats that go to the homeless people here in S.F., and I think that’s good too. I feel good helping other people.

    Whoever you are, boy or girl, man or woman, you should feel good about learning new things, and being creative. Congratulations on learning to knit.

  35. Janice

    Nathan, I think it is so cool that you learned how to knit in one afternoon. I’ve taken lessons and keep trying, but I’m not very good yet. Please ask your mom to post photos of your projects. It will keep me motivated to keep trying and not give up.

  36. LeAndra

    Nathan, I am so jealous! I’ve been trying to learn to knit for years, but I get too impatient and feel too intimidated, so I give up. You’ve inspired me to dust off my knitting needles and start learning again.

  37. Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits

    Dear Nathan,

    What a special talent you have! Knitting takes a lot of time and patience plus it develops good hand/eye coordination. Your friends probably spend a lot of their time playing video games. When the video game is over, they have nothing to show for it but a whole bunch of wasted time. With your knitting, you can see your progress plus you wind up with a lovely gift for someone to treasure. Don’t give up, Nathan. Knit away!

  38. Susan

    I’m ashamed to say I didn’t teach my son’s to knit when they were young, but there is always hope for the future! They are 27 and 30 now and I think the reason I didn’t get around to teaching them to knit is that we were living in the Florida Keys and it was hot, too hot to knit, also I was busy going to school myself. They did learn to latch hook rugs, needlepoint and sew tho! And a trip to the craft store was as welcome as to the book store, they did all kinds of crafts. They also both took ballet and tap dance for many years, even taking their tap shoes to school for show and tell. One is in the movie making business and surfs and the other is in the Army reserves and plays ice hockey. Both of them have attracted wonderful wives, is it because they assist with one’s jewelry making business and surprises with tickets to the ballet with having to be asked?! All boys should have the opportunity to play with dolls and all girls should be able to play sports. Doing things a little different from the norm or the rest of the guys, and being open about it, teaches tolerance. It teaches them tolerance and reinforces it with you. Tolerance of everybody’s wishes/desires makes the world go round. When somebody says you can’t by virtue of your gender, and you believe them, the world becomes a smaller place and your life has restrictions from fun. Invite all your friends for a knitting party, why let girls have all the fun?!

  39. Katy Manck (BooksYALove)

    Nathan – a blogger-guy I know is busy this weekend at a Men’s Knitting Retreat with lots of other guys. He signed up early enough that he will also be learning how to spin with a spinning wheel: http://www.vanwaffle.com/2012/05/18/mens-spring-knitting-retreat-joins-community/

    It’s great that you’re learning how to do something that is fun and useful, too = you will always be able to make cool gifts for people.

    I know how to crochet, but haven’t learned how to knit yet, so you’re ahead of me! Have fun & be your own guy,
    **Katy M
    Recommending YA books beyond the bestsellers at
    http://BooksYALove.blogspot.com
    Follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove

  40. Gabrielle

    I wish I could remember his name, but one night when I was watching boxing, one of the fighters talked about his mom having taught him to sew and that he made money during high school by sewing prom dresses for his classmates. I think it’s absolutely marvelous that Nathan is knitting. Wish I could!

  41. deb

    My son knits as well, and our local yarn shoppe even has a guys version of a stitch and bitch. Big props to Nathan for learning how to knit:)

  42. Faleen

    I hope that Nathan has found his comfort zone with knitting. It will be very relaxing for him and the nice thing about it is that he has results that he can enjoy for quite a while.

  43. Leslie

    Nathan,
    We need more guys who knit! I met my husband at my friend’s yarn shop -http://blog.mlive.com/runningwithneedles/2009/02/eastown_couples_hearts_are_kni.html.
    My father crocheted when I was growing up and made beautiful blankets we snuggled up with in the winter. Some men have made great careers out of knitting and fiber arts. One of my favorite knitting designers is Jared Flood aka Brooklyn Tweed.
    There are all sorts of cool things you can knit like monsters and animals. Keep knitting, you won’t be sorry.

  44. keropokman

    When I was about Nathan’s age, my mum taught sis to knit, and when I said I want to learn too mum taught me as well.

    But dad did not really seemed pleased about it! LOL.

    In the end, I gave up myself because mum keeps asking me to unpick! Not up to her standard. Sigh.

  45. Anne

    Well, it’s crochet rather than knitting, but close enough – two really cool snowboarders here in Sweden had a lot of leftover time when travelling between meets, and decided to start crocheting their own hats. They now have a super-successful hat company – http://www.kaskofsweden.com/

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