It’s not always easy being a male knitter. Many times I am ignored when in a new yarn store – especially if accompanied by a friend who happens to be female. Sometimes I get vaguely uncomfortable looks from shop staff – as if they’re not sure if I’m a knitter or not. Both situations make me feel uncomfortable. In social situations that are not knitting-related, for example an office party, I never mention my passion for knitting & yarn. In fact, a fair number of office co-workers know my history: I’m a knitter and a former yarn shop owner. Does anyone EVER mention these facts while socializing? No. Do they ask about what I’m working on now, or do I miss the shop, or am I still involved with yarn? They do not. Only the crocheting co-worker expresses interest. At times this can be torture; I’d love to talk about my passion with others, but I feel like it’s taboo in mixed company.
While at a wedding reception years ago, my good friend introduced me to a table full of people like so: “This is my dear friend Warren; he owns a yarn store!” She was delighted and proud. The most I got from the crowd was “Oh, that’s interesting”, then everyone looked away and started talking amongst themselves. People avoided me the rest of the day; I felt like I had an unfortunate skin condition.
As a result of these awkward moments, I’ve become averse to knitting by myself in public. I lead a knitting group and we are always knitting in public (there must be strength in numbers), but I never pull out the needles when I’m alone. I guess I have visions of people shouting “Looks! A Male Knitter! Let’s go stare and laugh at him!” An irrational fear of course.
Then there’s public transportation. I ride the ferry to work every day, and am at times tempted to bring my knitting along. After a year of ferry commuting, however, I have yet to screw up the courage to bring out my yarn & needles. I don’t know what I’m afraid of. What’s the worse that can happen: that someone strikes up a conversation about knitting? Imagine how many new people I’d meet. I may even make new knitting friends!
Time to get out of the knitting closet, I say.