Its Funny, This Life of a Male Knitter

There are a few of us knitting fellas out there. Quite a few, actually. And there are even less of us fellas that knit for a living. So, I can understand why it might take a second or two for people to get used to it.

But, I never really think about it, I really don’t. I just do it, you know? It never occurs to me. The idea of the uniqueness in a male knitter is about as far fetched as the idea of a female firefighter…..isn’t it? I mean it MUST be, since it seems to come up a lot. Who would have thought that this craft, when approached by men, was a novelty?

Well, lately I’ve been thinking more about it, I’ve been more conscious about being in public and knitting. Not in a bad way, hell no! I wanna see if there is curiosity, and if there is, then I want to start a conversation, get them involved, get them knitting. I don’t want to be one of those huffy people who sits back and acts “bothered” because someone finds them interesting.

You know the type. “Oh, I’m so bored with being unique, that’s ALL any ever talks about…..How unique I am. Can’t we talk about anything else other than how unique I am?”  That’s just…..well, it’s just rude.

IMG_5671I’ve really gotten more conscious about my knitting when people ask me what I do for a living and I say, “I’m a world famous knitter,” (then I toss on my cute little cocky grin. It’ll melt you 🙂 ). They chuckle a little then go, “HA HA! That’s funny! No, really…. What do you do?”

There have only been a few bad experiences. Just a handful. I recall one time I went into a small, local yarn store (or ‘LYS’ as they say in the biz). I wont’ say which one because I don’t believe in trash talking people online. I think it’s a touch cruel and cowardly to sit behind your computer and spew out how much you hate someone without having to take responsibility for it. But, that’s a different blog. Anyway, I went into the store because I wanted to see what sort of yarn they had, maybe give them a little business. I strolled in quite ready to explore and was met at the door by the owner who stopped me in my tracks and asked briskly, “Excuse me, may I help you with something????”

“Nah, I just wanted browse, see what you have.”

I turned to the left and she stepped in front of me. I stepped to the right and she did so again before asking, “Anything I can help you find???” Now, I know tone says everything, and her tone screamed of nastiness.

I said, “I was just gonna look at some yarn.” Then it dawns on me. Ok ok ok. Maybe not because I’m a man, but because I look like a scruffy man with his beat up ball cap, tattered jeans, and boots. THAT is why she’s giving me grief. Why else would a man be in her store? No, even worse, why would a poorly dressed ruffian be in her store? “Those” people don’t knit. And it all came together when she finally said, “We don’t have a restroom if that’s what you’re looking for.” I just turned around and left her store, not saying anything out loud, but replaying in my head that scene with Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” (“Big mistake. HUGE!”)

But most of the time the response is often quite cordial. People approach me with curiosity and I’m more than willing to answer their questions. I think its cool that people want to know more. They get inspired by it. And that has to be the coolest part about being a male knitter. A lady in the corner knitting booties at Starbucks doesn’t get as much attention as the skinny little redneck up front knitting a teddy bear. People notice….they ask questions….they smile….and walk away going, “I wanna learn to knit.”

Knitters are an agreeable group. We create things tenderly and with care to give as gifts. We don’t knit voodoo dolls….well, actually I know quite a few people that DO knit voodoo dolls, but they’re cute! Knitters carefully select the right yarn for just the right project to be given to just the right person at instinctively the right time. So, if I’m spotted by someone who takes notice of my knitting, and the curiosity of it being done by a man instills some inspiration in them to be a knitter, then I’ve just inspired someone to put something good into the world.

And that’s a pretty damned good feeling….

(From the book, “Man VS Skein-The Confessions of a Male Knitter”)








  1. Knitting in England was originally a male occupation, only later taken over by women 🙂 You’re just reclaiming your history. I hate that the LYS lady was so rude. People like that are going to struggle to stay in business.

  2. Way to go, Gregory! Knitting was fast becoming a lost art a number of years ago because young people didn’t think it was “cool”. Good for you for not shying away from knitting in public and for igniting a desire in non-knitters to try their hand at the craft. We can’t let knitting die out with our grandmothers, now can we?

  3. My impression (of men knitting) was that it comes from a long line of fishermen who needed to do something productive while they went out to get to where they needed to be to fish. And, they had the added bonus of being able to knit certain designs (which indicated family) which allowed them to id a skeleton swept up in their nets.

  4. I used to own a knitting store back in the ’80s, had 1 or 2 male customers. They were fun to help. And they never asked to use the rest room.

  5. Reblogged this on arttherapyadventures and commented:
    I needed to read this post today. As some of you may know, my masters thesis is about knitting and anxiety relief (basically, knitting as therapy), so I’ve been gathering sources like mad– I even mention Mr. Gregory in my research! Anyway, I’ve been stressed lately and am not necessarily on the best terms with my thesis, but this was lovely. Much of it is about exactly what I’m trying to spread therapeutically.

  6. I’ve been knitting off and on for over thirty years, and usually didn’t get many stares in wool shops until I lived in France. There the proprietors usually looked at me in horror or would studiously avoid me – possibly also because I looked a bit scruffy and usually had a gigantic dog with me ( who I am mining for chiengora ).

    In Australia, when I’ve spoken to the store proprietors they usually confess that their male customers were much more ambitious in their projects. Female customers sometimes expressed surprise (or envy) that I could read a knitting pattern.

  7. There are some very nice people running yarn stores (or any other kind of stores) out there who are truly wonderful people and those people enjoy a lot of return business because they are thoughtful, caring people.

    The ones who are snobs, or rude and snooty will get paid back in the same kind.
    Nobody goes into that kind of shop more than once. They have no return customer base and still somehow they just never get the idea that being rude to people does not make them want to visit you again.

    Karma will bite those people in the butt, bigtime.

    People like you do well because they care. Because it’s not all about who’s better, faster, richer or more important. Life is about treating others they way you’d want them to treat you. It’s not about taking your insecurites out on others to build yourself up. How awful this world would be if everyone were like that lady you encountered in that yarn shop…. I’m glad there are people who are not.

  8. I’m a stockbroker and years ago a broker I sat next to told me about a homeless looking guy who came in to the Phoenix Merrill Lynch office wanting to open an account. Steve was courteous to him, opened the account and when the man opened his suitcase it contained a fortune in stock certificates. When the man departed he left something behind. Steve ran out the door, looking for him and spotted him in an ally looking through a garbage can. You can’t judge someone by their clothing, I’ve known some real jerks that dressed well. I have plenty of clients that aren’t fashion plates. But they’re kind, good, worthwhile people. Let’s let a person’s worth speak without all the superficial judgement.

  9. BTW, when I go into a shop of any description and the clerk is condescending, I don’t go back. Good service (or the lack of) can make or break a retail organization. The rudeness displayed to you is THEIR loss.

  10. Hasn’t the lys owner heard of Kaffe Fassett? My grandpa taught me to knit. He was in the British Merchant Navy and it was a normal past time. He and my Nana loved knitting and would work on very complex Fair Isle pieces together. British fishermen in days gone by knitted as well as their womenfolk. Male knitting has a rugged history

  11. Knitting here in Norway was in the old days a mans job. Then the women eventually get to knit everyday clothes. The men still knitted the festive garments.

    We also have a local LYS where all the people working there are rude. To everyone actually.

  12. even here in Greece men were knitting in the old times, i have seen pictures of you , even as a woman, you have sometimes problems when you knit outside in a cafe. Which does not stop me doing it or some of my fellow knitters. actually we even have a man in our group and he does not mind being stared at when he knits in public. but the reactions we get are funny.

  13. I’ve run into that lady’s same attitude in a few LYS’s, for much the same reasons you mentioned. I ALWAYS say this as soon as I get that attitude in the 1st question…

    “no, m’am, I just came in to see what y’all have.

    “I’m a knitter – I knit hats, & give them away, (here’s where I throw in some guilt) mostly to homeless or economically challenged people.

    (And now then, here’s where I scare these old biddy’s too death…)

    “But of course, I really do it because it’s (raise voice a little) CHEAPER THAN A SHRINK!”

    I have a laugh I do after that last comment that my wife says really scares them.

    Try that next time you’re in THAT kind of shop.

    Mostly, thought, I encounter women who are REALLY interested in THAT I knit, & WHY I knot.

    ANd most of the time, when I mention the shrink thing, they always laugh too, & agree that knitting does the same thing for them! 😉

  14. It’s a shame you had to deal with a rude yarn shop owner. As for men, I think it’s great to see more men knitting/crocheting. I grew up with only brothers and half of my childhood playmates were boys. For me, it would be very comfortable having a male buddy who knits/crochets. I sincerely hope to see more men catching the knitting/crochet fever. And not being ashamed of it.

  15. Gregory, if you are traveling north on I-75, stop at Creative Yarns in Macon, Georgia, the best LYS in the South! Male knitters are welcomed, and regulars in our groups. The Ladies aren’t rude, and you won’t be disappointed!! Great post, and “Big mistake, HUGE!” is one of my all-time favorite quotes, you writing devil!

    Carolyn aka knit-faced

  16. Aww, I enjoyed this post so much. I am biding my time until I order one of your bears – I already know which one I want. It just seems like you’re still overwhelmed with orders at the moment! Plus, I know someone I know would appreciate a bear as a gift…I’m just not sure who yet. 🙂

  17. Why? There is nothing that says men cannot be creative. Good grief some of our greatest achievements were created by men. My brother just older than me crochets. He’s made blankets, glass cozies, designed his own clown and doll, etc. Never thought it was odd for him to do so. I don’t meet many male knitters or crocheters but I know they are out there. My friend Elly’s husband Dave knits. I cannot imagine that a man would be unwelcome in my lys, you might be barraged with a ton of questions but they would welcome you just the same as they would a woman. Reverse sexism. Interesting. Knit on!

  18. It was my father who taught me how to knit… And he’s a burly guy who’s done carpentry all his life (maybe that’s why I’m slow at knitting, and pretty much stick to crochet.) I’m not sure why, but I think there’s something more approachable about a guy knitting. Probably because I’m from a place where women tend to be snarky… Regardless, it really is the sharing and connecting with others that makes life so worth living. 🙂
    Thanks for your story, and for not being one of those “oh I am SO over how unique you think I am” people.

  19. Hi Gregory, your post made me smile. I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and well-worn baseball caps, jeans, shoes, tee-shirts are regular daily wear in many places. I’ve always been taught (and taught my sons) not to judge a book by its cover. When I run into rude shopkeepers [perhaps 3 in my 65 years], all I can say is “Bless your heart” — they need all the blessings they can get. Keep up the good work. BTW, I have an uncle who knits, and I one of my sons is a knitter, too.

  20. Oddly I had a similar happening today, I was walking round Edinburgh and went in a knitting boutique, The lady at the desk was sniffy and didn’t smile or welcome me, 🙂 , I had been traveling a while and walking in the dust and in a comfy jacket! I looked rough and dare I say it poor! 🙂 she didn’t stop me but I did change my big spend to a smaller one of just what they had I couldn’t get else where 🙂 petty but I still spent and when she saw my collection of wool to buy she suddenly perked up :-D. The meeting I was going to, fell on my wool and we had an impromptu design session over lunch. Knitters are the nicest folk, despite the odd one or two.
    Glad your enjoying your craft, hardly a job when we enjoy it too!

  21. Gregory- one of my grandfathers taught me to knit, crochet, and sew! He was a logger in the Great North Woods- very much a man’s man, but he loved making beautiful and useful things for everyone. You go, guy!

  22. You have a real God-given gift, Gregory. Keep on blessing the world around you. And if you ever encounter those kinds of ungracious encounters again, bless them especially (rather than hoping that ‘karma will bite them in the butt’), because they need that blessing, that sunshine that you give, the most.

  23. I never had a bad experience when I go shopping for yarns. I do both – knit and crochet. When I go shopping sometime a lady ask what I’m going to make and I will tell her what project I’m doing. She usually is suprise a little, but then we just start talking yarns and projects. I always have my head up high and very proud to be a knitter or crocheter.

  24. I love that more men are knitting, I just wish that in the macho driven society I live in, more men had the guts to take up knitting, not only to break stereotypes but to do something else besides staring at some stupid phone all day or be stressed. I’ve been to a few yarn stores around here and I never see men or boys.
    Thank you for sharing your craft with others, maybe one day there will be even more men knitters around 🙂

  25. I always went to my Dad if the pattern was too complicated and he would help me work it out. I miss him but now my friends come to me for help with patterns.

  26. Hey! I live in Puerto Rico. Here knitting is not that know as crochet is, but after reading some of your posts, I decided to buy some needles and yarn. Started yesterday… This is a relaxing activity, although, I am in the process of getting angry everytime something goes wrong. Anyway, I’m doing it with youtube tutorials, so let’s see how it goes.

    I’ll buy your books, I’m sure you have a great story to tell us.

    Tanke care,


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