Coming out of the Knitting Closet

Knitting in Public
Knitting & Spinning at a Fiber Event in Healdsburg, CA

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.


About fotoknit

Knitter, spinner, knitwear designer, photographer, blogger, former yarn shop owner.
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4 Responses to Coming out of the Knitting Closet

  1. Darn Tootin’! BRING OUT THE KNITTING!!!!! There are more and more men knitting these days. If muggles have a problem with it, let them have a problem. Do you think Franklin gives two shakes when someone talks to him about his knitting? Yes, but then he gets mad and talks about it on his blog. Also, sorry I missed you on Saturday. We had just returned from out of town. I’m sorry we keep missing each other!!!!

  2. mary knapp-samet says:

    Go Waren, break out those needles! I bet you meet some nice people, and even if you don’t, you will have fun knitting!

  3. DO IT!!!

    See, I grew up in a household with a weaving, sewing, embroidering, knitting mum, and a MUCH more obsessed with needlepointing dad. Big, bad, former football-playing, works-for-the-police-force dad. Played with a needle and pretty pretty string. And was pretty proud of it. He’d needlepoint anywhere he could have an audience. So it’s always been weird to me when people think that men aren’t involved in fibre arts. And even stranger when our whole family would arrive in a yarn or needlework shop and there was active, almost hostile, rudeness. Maybe it was the fact my mum was in a wheelchair, and had one hand that was visibly paralyzed. (Well, SHE can’t do any of this…let’s not actually serve her…) Though most of the coldness…and often, rudeness…was clearly directed at my father. It’s frustrating.

    But there is a very clear and direct way to change that attitude: carefully choose the items you need for a number of projects, pile those items up on the counter and allow them to start writing up the bill, and then, just as they get to the point where they’ve hit the total button on the cash register or the calculator…let them know that this is the purchase you WOULD have made, had they not been rude.

    It makes an impact.

    And then go to the store where you know you’re welcome.

  4. Pingback: Knitting in Public, Part 2 | The Stranded Knitter

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