Men knit! And this is not something that just happened.We need to bust up some of those stereotypes about women being the only ones making clothes and reading patterns in the family! The influence of men with fiber arts has a long history. Knitting is not a new hobby but do you know some of the history of men and knitting? I thought this was really fun and interesting! Here are a few facts for you.
1.So who was the first knitter? Unfortunately, that is not know, but we do know that men were the first to use an early method called nålbinding which uses just one needle! Nålbinding predates knitting by about one thousand years and crochet by 1500 years! I am quite happy to stick with my bamboo needles!
Nålbinding was also used during the Viking-age of 793-1066 ACE in Scandinavia before knitting and crocheting were known. This was how they made sturdy clothing that was warm. Knitting looks quite similar to nålbinding; textile so historians need to closely follow the path of the yarn itself to identify the item as either knitting or nålbinding.
2.The story goes that William Lee, an English minister, grew tired of hearing the incessant clicking of his wife’s knitting needles. In 1589, he modified the looms that were used to create rugs with hooks that would form loops that would be released during each pass of the thread, thereby knitting a whole row at once. Lee left his church work and went to secure the blessing of the queen (Elizabeth I) to ensure that no one else could create such a device and allowing him to make a healthy profit.
3.Who is the most famous knitting character? (Well, that would be aside from our notorious CEO, Nicole!) A creation of Dickens' fertile mind, Madame Therese Defarge appears in his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities. As a leader of the Jacques during the French revolution, she used pattern stitches as a code and knit a list of the upper class doomed to die at the guillotine. This was a true testament to Dickens' talent. He was able to turn knitting, the frequent symbol of loving grandmothers and charming domesticity, into an ominous, cruel, inhuman act.
According to Rutt in his comprehensive A History of Hand Knitting, Dickens was inspired by the "tricoteuses", women who attended the National Convention in which the fate of the unfortunate rich was debated during the French revolution, knitting while they listened. Such a macabre pastime earned them a reputation as sadists, and an archetypal evil character was born in Madame Defarge. Great that Dickens promoted knitting though it is a bit twisted!
4. Today, articles about how wonderful knitting is for us pop up all over the place. But what you might not know is that during World War II wounded soldiers were taught to knit. Reasons for this included: keeping busy, learning something to exercise the brain, interaction with others, meditative qualities, and the satisfaction of making something.Sure does sound like why we knit today, male or female!
Men knitting is nothing new, it just seems to be the exception to the rule in the modern world. Or is it? We all know that knitting provides so many physical and mental health benefits so why assume it is a girls only hobby? Rather than the picture of a frustrated knitter, I love this beautiful, tranquil man's face on the right that expresses the joy of creativity that we knitters love.
5.Men knit! How awesome for us that they don't get caught in some gender specific stereotype. Are you a man who loves to knit or do you know a guy in your life who has a passion for knitting? Men's Knitting Retreats are held all over the place and encourage a variety of fiber craft experiences.
And are you still wanting more information about knitting? Here is a previous DGY blog post with lots more facts about knitting for both genders. So if you know a person young or old, male or female that wants to knit, show them how! Spread the joy of creating! Give the gift of knitting notions, sure to be welcome with all knitters. And be sure to send us a photo of your gender inclusive knitting at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you teaching your boy to knit? Hooray!