A long running issue with men getting into knitting has been patterns. There is a long history of men being the recipients of knitted gifts that are somewhat....ill-conceived. Said gifts are often fussy, with too many details or the wrong colour choice. Scratchy yarn is a big turn-off, as are impractical garments. There is a well-known 'sweater curse' that even has its own Wikipedia entry.
Mike is going to be working off some his favourite patterns for the Man Made course, including some WWII standard issue patterns for knitting for the troops. Knitting for a man at war couldn't be fussy: it had to be simple, practical and highly functional. Function namely being warm. My idea of the perfect knitwear design is a harmony in simplicity. I find all too often that designers of both mens and womenswear have a tendency to add 'something else'. Something else usually being totally unnecessary and upsetting the balance of the underlying design.
What i've learned over the years is that men don't want complicated design, they want to put on a jersey that keeps them warm. The jersey shouldn't tell the world very loudly that it is hand-knit; it should be functional garment that serves its purpose well. It comes down to: the simpler, the better. Here's my round-up of great man knits - with an attempt to include some of the best male knitwear designers around.
(don't mind that this image shows a model wearing a sample two sizes too big for him)
This entire post could be a shrine to Jared Flood, but I've resisted that urge. Jared Flood, of Brooklyn Tweed, is an incredible design talent. I'd go so far as to say he is an knitwear architect - every one of his designs have strong foundations with the simplest and most balanced details. His success is well-earned, that's for sure. He now works with an esteemed group of designers and has his own yarn line. He's my man-knit hero.
There is still a pretty big gap in the men's knitwear pattern market, but it is slowly being filled. Unfortunately there are still a lot of hideous patterns being produced. My challenge to our new male knitters: design your own patterns. Knit what you want to wear. Let's start sending a clear message about the kind of knits that fit into your life. And wear them with pride.
A couple of weeks ago, Mike happened to be in town at the same time a Hutt News reporter wanted to chat about our Man Made sessions.
Would you believe it, this week who is on the front page of our local paper, but Mike? Our knitting teacher extraordinaire.
Despite all my skepticism, we now have some brave souls signed up. There is plenty of room for more!
At the same time, I feel remiss in that I haven't yet blogged about Handmade. It's coming up super fast and word is from the organisers that classes are selling like CRAZY. And I mean CRAZY in all caps. I've had more than a few people approach me lately asking for beginner lessons, and, man or woman, there are in fact beginner knitting lessons being held at Handmade.
Belinda of Blendy Knits fame is going to be in the Knit Lounge (hosted by us, joyfully once again!) teaching regular beginner sessions for the cheap and cheerful bargain price of $10. Scoot down to the bottom of this page to see details.
I will be doing a much more comprehensive post on our picks for Handmade weekend very very soon. However this completely random and fractured post is brought to you by a fried brain thanks to dyeing a crazy (there's that word again) amount of Knitsch Sock in preparation for the Creative Fibre Festival next weekend. Holland Road Yarn Co will be there as part of the trade market, but there is plenty to see as well as lots of shopping to be done :)
Better take the fried brain off for a glass of wine and some crochet. We have a crazy (I said it again!) amount of stock arriving this week so there will be lots of excited noises coming from this direction as big boxes of yarn are unpacked and distributed amongst shelves. And I promise the next post from me will hold some more sense.
A programme of lessons exclusively for men. You know you want to.
Hosted by Mike Dickison: man knitter, ukulele player, bird expert.
$40 for 4 sessions - you choose which ones you would like to attend. We recommend you opt in to the first 2 sessions to ensure you are up to speed for the rest.
Where and when:
7pm - 9pm
Holland Road Yarn Co, 281 Jackson St, Petone
1, 8, 15, 22, 29 May (all Wednesdays); 5 June
Tools, (good) beer and finger food will be provided at each session. Book here - it won't hurt. Promise.
For a long time my knitting ambition was to destroy stereotypes around the craft. To demonstrate that it wasn't simply for old people. That knitting is a pursuit for everyone, that the patterns are no longer awful and the yarn no longer scratchy. Knitting is a meditative pursuit that brings many great joy.
In line with this ambition, I want to prove that knitting isn't the exclusive domain of women. It's not. I know a bunch of men who knit. No, they aren't all gay. I've heard stories of husbands who took up knitting to deal with the stress of PhD study; men who spun yarn for their wives to knit up into jerseys. Men were the original master knitters - as with artists, carpenters and weavers, knitting used to be an industry populated by professional men and governed by a guild system.
So. The challenge is on - is it possible to destroy another stereotype? Are men 'man enough' to knit?
To be honest, i'm extremely skeptical. They say 'build it and they will come' - but will they? Is the average New Zealand man ready to pick up sticks and string and make fabric? Ready to accept that knitting is a craft for everyone?
Man Made is a series of 6 sessions, covering all the basics (and then some) of knitting. Taught by Mike Dickison - a man knitter, ukulele player and bird expert. There will be craft beer. And finger food. And the tools you need will be supplied.
Prove me wrong. As much as I want to be optimistic and think we can get this series fully subscribed, I doubt it. I don't think men are up to it. I don't believe the average man has the balls to help prove that gender associations with knitting are a load of rubbish.
Here's the details anyway:
And to make it easy for you, it's possible to book online. No scary day time shop trip necessary.