Tuesday, February 22, 2005

How I Came to Knit

I've told this story enough times in person at Stitch 'n' Bitch (where it is of course the second most natural conversation starter after "What are you making?") and for no particular reason except having a little time to kill, I'm going to write it down.

I went to a great big ivy-covered university in Cambridge, Massachusetts with which I had a love-hate relationship. The hate part has been worked through. The love part grew out of finding there people for the first time in my life who actually understood me. Not all of them, of course, but enough so that I no longer felt like The Lone Weird Kid.

Contrary to the popular stereotype, we were not all rich (some of us were - not me), nor were we all geniuses (some of us were - certainly not me). If we did differ from rank and file college students, I think it might have been our affinity for what you could call cozy anachronisms.

For example, my house insisted upon throwing two large parties every year - a waltz party in December, and a swing party in May. Both were black tie. Never mind that maybe twelve people arrived on campus as freshmen knowing how to do either type of dance. It was a tradition, it looked pretty, and so we took lessons and made it happen.

For me, Eliza's knitting fell into the same category as the Lowell House Winter Waltz. I wasn't so much interested in the thing itself as in realizing the mental picture I had of myself doing it.

Eliza herself was a living bit of history, the latest twig on a rich New England family tree old as the hills. Older, perhaps, depending upon which hill you mean. She wasn't matronly or dowdy, but with a slight change of hairstyle she'd have looked perfectly at home in a lace collar and black bombazine skirt, sitting for a portrait by John Singleton Copley. She was the first person my age whom I'd ever seen working a pair of knitting needles, an activity that seemed all of a piece with the rest of her.

It wasn't long before bunches of us were pestering Eliza for lessons. I don't know about the others, but for me knitting seemed to be one more step closer to my youthful fantasy of changing from the ethnic, blue collar boy I'd always been into something much better. Like, say, Abigail Adams. It seems incredibly stupid to me now, but my real motive for going to Harvard wasn't to enjoy access to unparalleled learning opportunities. It was to somehow achieve a racial purification that would render me a candidate for the D.A.R.

(A firm grip on reality has never been one of my strong points.)

Eliza arranged for a group outing to the yarn shop nearby. I remember very little about it, except that the salespeople were not overly friendly. I insisted that I was going to make a sweater, and with Eliza's help selected 6 or 8 hanks of pretty blue yarn. Given that the shop was in Cambridge, most likely it was hand-spun from free-range organically-fed sheep on a lesbian collective somewhere in Vermont. I don't know. I just remember that the cost emptied most of my bank account.

And so needlework evenings began, five or six of us sitting around on beds and chairs. I struggled through the beginnings of a scarf, adding to Eliza's patient "this is a knit, this is a purl" instructions with the diagrams in a cheap teach yourself book I acquired somewhere or other.

I kept at it, even after we got tired of the picture of ourselves knitting around the fireplace like the March sisters. In the first few years after college, I particularly enjoyed being able to knit scarves that met MY definition of what a scarf should be - about nine inches wide, and at least eight feet long. I moved on to mittens, and there I stopped - scarves and mittens, scarves and mittens, for about three years.

Then, gradually, I got discouraged. I have always been a timid person, and trips to the yarn shops in Boston were frightening. My favorite place to go for yarn and embroidery supplies was the Women's Educational and Industrial Union. It's one of those places you're not going to find anywhere in America but Boston. Founded by suffragettes, and run by their spiritual daughters. They were (and I believe still are) in their Victorian-era location, which hadn't changed all that much. Embroidery floss, for example, was dispensed from a gigantic, ornate cabinet with hundreds of tiny drawers in it. The air was hushed, the light deliciously cool and still. I truly loved it, and loved the idea that by shopping there, my money would go to a noble cause.

And every time I went in, I was treated like a rapist.

It didn't matter how often I shopped there, how much I tried to smile and make lighthearted chat, how much I pathetically flashed bits of current projects to show that I was not only serious, but somewhat accomplished (none of the female embroiderers made their own patterns, far as I ever saw). They were not having it. I was a freak, and treated as such.

And as for other men to knit with, or women for that matter, forget it. My friends just thought it was odd, and as any knitter reading this will know - nobody care less about your knitting than a non-knitter. And, finally, I wound up spending five years with a partner - the less said of him, the better - who managed to mess with my brain to the point that all my creative projects stopped dead.

When the whole Knitting Craze started, I felt vindicated. See! I told all you morons this was fun!

So here I am again, finally tackling a sweater. And I'm still having bad yarn shop experiences (although in Chicago, this seems to be universal and unisex) but this time, I'm sticking around.

That's my story. What's yours?

167 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love your story. I don't understand why women are so threatened by men in a knit shop. They need to absolutely get over themselves!

I hope to meet you when I come to Chicago in August for Stitches Midwest.

Jon
http://coloradoknits.typepad.com

goblinbox said...

Wonderful story!

Sahara said...

Franklin, that IS a wonderful story. Far more romantic than my venture into hand knitting. Glad you got over the racial purification thing. Trust me, I completely understand what you mean.

Fortunately in New York, men have a more pleasant experience in yarn shops. I thought Chicago would be better than that. Hmmph. Wait till I get there.

Have you ever been in touch with Eliza since then? She sounds like Saint E.Z.'s niece. Hope she's well and still knitting.

Richard said...

Hey Franklin,

I stumbled across your blog (as a fledgling knitter) and enjoyed it immensely.

Just wanted to chime in on being treated like a rapist in a yarn shop. Although I'm a new knitter, I've sewn my own clothing since about age 11 (a healthy amount of time ago) and the exact same thing happens in fabric stores. Usually the more high-end the fabric store, the more suspicious they are. I have been followed constantly, asked "do you know what you're looking for?" and whispered about more times than I care to remember.

The little bit of devil in me sometimes couldn't resist engaging them in a pointed conversation regarding tailoring or couture techniques (both of which I'd trained in). The expressions of surprise were gratifying, but never translated to warmth. The only time this type of behavior didn't happen was shopping in the garment district in NYC when I lived there. It was heaven.

And I'm a big white boy. Not even any ethnic factors in the mix (unless you count Irish and German, I guess).

So rest assured, any man pursuing a fibre craft of whatever sort is immediately suspect. Heh.

Richard

Christina said...

Franklin,

When you feel a bit wobbly about being a Man Who Knits (or does other fibrey things) just remember that historically it was men who knit and most designers and tailors are men. So there. Then, stick your tongue out.

christine said...

Hi Franklin - I'm a new blogger, but an "old" knitter (relatively speaking), and also live in Chicago. Perhaps I'll meet you someday in some Chicago YS. I've had some yucky YS experiences, too, so I don't think it's entirely gender-related. I enjoy your blog!

Holly @Home said...

Oh Franklin ( lovely name b.t.w) that is so lovely .You should write a book ...I particulary love The March sisters image ..I always wanted to be Joe . Treat yourself to a trip to San Francisco they have some fantastic yarn shops on the net not sure if they are in the "Castro" ditrict ( how cool is that for a name ?) but Mum wants to go one day after she has had her trip to Washington D.C which will never happen as we'd have to kill her to get her on a plane .Keep knitting and making me laugh ..in a warm way .Holly.

Suzanne said...

Too many women have... learned? been taught? I don't know... to fear men. All men. Just because they are men. It's sad. It's just as lamentable an aspect of sexism that so many women think of all strange men as possible rapists (and believe me, I do understand the fact that women have to be careful out there... I'm out there!... I still think it's sad and try my best not to practice it) as that so many men think of women as idiots. Both of these are things I hope we can change in the years to come.

Amy said...

Oh dear. I'm a latecomer to your blog, but if you're in Chicago, you're not too far from Mpls./St. Paul. You ever hit this region, let me know...I know of several yarn shops (it's like a mecca here) that would be delighted to have you visit. Not only would you not be treated like a rapist, you'd be treated like a talented knitter. One that I know of is owned by another talented gay knitter, so for sure you'd be on safe ground there!

Tom Clark said...

Gosh, too bad you didn't live closer to Laguna Beach, California when you took up knitting. The gals at Strands & Stitches there are the nicest ever and they seem to really enjoy my visits. (I'm a guy.) Nobody batted an eyelash at my being in their yarn shop and they never gave me any attitude at all. Quite the contrary actually. I don't know, maybe it's because I never left the place without spending three hundred dollars?

Out here on the west coast a lot of guys are into knitting - it's like the thing to be seen doing among some of the younger surfing and boarding crowd. I crochet and I've yet to meet anybody who thinks it's anything but cool. I guess things must be changing because I go into yarn shops in every city or town I happen to be visiting and the response is always extremely cordial and warm. OK, there was this one yarn shop in New York where I had a hard time getting waited on. But overall...

Love your blog by the way - and it's great to read how other guys got started crocheting or knitting. Thanks for sharing your story!

Tom Clark
pussycap.com

inefishensie said...

i have started to blog just recently, so this is a bit late...but a girl of 21, with an overgrown mohawk, wearing a sweater with 5UCK MY D1.CK written on it is not traated kindly by women in the fabric- and yarn shops either. until they are just watching and following, i ignore them, but if they open their mouth, i give them the evil eye.(=glare at them till they back off)

Yarngirl said...

I just found you're blog and I'm catching up on all that I've missed - this is a wonderful story - and I have to say, I'm sorry you're treated so horribly in yarn shops! I hope that's changed - I've taught a lot of people to knit and only one man - but he was the quickest darn student I ever had and it was one of my favorite experiences. People are people, knitter's are knitters - male or female!

Cara said...

So funny. I learned to knit from one of the tackiest books ever, but it gave me the basics. I would have loved to have learned from a person.

When I lived in San Francisco, I worked in a fabric store, a very funky, cheap fabric store, and the only times a man darkened our door, he either had a shopping list from his wife, or was an idiot who made our life hell (no, cut it perfectly straight, no I want 27 1/2 inches, not half yards, why didn't you tell me I couldn't throw wool felt in the washing machine? cuz it's written on the flipping bolt, and, mr. know-it-all, you could have asked). I was never negatively concerned about men, but if I'd had one who'd known what end of the scissors to hold I might have fainted in shock. I'm always happy to meet men who sew/knit/etc.

I used to have a hard time when I went into hardware stores, as in "why, little lady, what do you want something like that for, you're just going to (cut your fingers / break your nails / put spices on it), and you could get (your husband to do it / find it in a kitchen store) when in fact I was building 200 pound sculptures in clay and wood. Salespeople have gotten less offensive, but not smarter.

Keep knitting, keep wirtting, we'll keep reading.

Cara

Jeanne said...

Great story! Come to Toledo, OH. Our best LYS is owned by a gay male couple who weave and knit. Their fibers are unbelievable and they are open and welcoming to everyone, regardless of age, race, creed, or orientation.

I love reading your blog. You crack me up!

trek said...

And why can't a guy go to a yarn shop? My Number Guy has been to multiple yarn/fiber/spinning shops with me and he loved MSW last year. We also went to Rhinebeck - didn't like that so much.

There is hope, too. For example, one of the shops Number Guy has visited with me in the past year is within 100 miles of our house which employs a male clerk and the yarn/fiber department of the craft store closest to our house is managed by a male clerk as well.

And, for the record, I'm the one who has replaced all of the electrical outlets and lightswitches in our house and most of the plumbing fixtures as well.

Stereotypes - :Þ

PS - and there is smenita again...

Isobel said...

Both my local wool shops are run by men...want to move to England?

Robin said...

I know I'm a couple years late on reading your story. I've been lurking around a bit, for a while. I'm sorry to hear about how people treat you, especially women. Jeez, why can't men knit for petes sake (who is pete, anyway?). I'm also sorry to hear you had a partner who messed you up. You should meet my brother. We live in Western MI, not too far from you!!! Keep on knitting, I love your knitting and your artwork. Dolores ROCKS!!

FugueStateKnits said...

Hi Franklin! I really really love your story! It reminds me of my college days in a much smaller college in the middle of Vermont, probably not far from the lesbian yarn collective, LOL:) Good times.
FWIW, I am not a man, but I have gone to yarn shops only to be treated like a rapist - and I wouldn't know how to do that, LOL! Let's face it, some LYS owners are just plain WEIRD!
Just so you know, one of the first things I did as a college freshman was to teach a guy how to knit. I'll never forget his name: Jesse Ishakawa or something like that - guess I forgot the spelling! oops... but then I believe i was in college a few (dozen) years before you.
In your 100 things part I, I was really really intrigued by what your dad did. He sounds like quite a man:)
Take care,
Joan
a/k/a fuguestateknits

Krystin said...

Hell, if I saw a man in a knit shop, I'd jump all over that.

When I visited Boston this past spring, I ventured into a yarn shop in Cambridge, and one on Newbury St as well. I have to say, I'm a white woman, and I got about the same reaction.

It could have been that I'm just a little southern girl, but you know what? There are some nasty hags out there in the yarn world who need to get the needles of their you-know-whatses.

wenders said...

I love this story about how you came to knit!

And laughed and laughed at your description of the kind of yarn available in Cambridge. And am still laughing... because. Well, because I sort of want to own and run that lesbian yarn collective in Vermont.

And just so you know, I chose my college partially based on the fact that it was the same school that Baby went to. You know, Baby from Dirty Dancing? And I sort of hoped that I'd have a torrid, dancing-filled love afair like she did. (Didn't happen.)

Sally Webster said...

Speaking as a retailer it is shocking behaviour to treat ANY cusomer in a disrespectful way (unless they are rude to you and even then, remain gracious and you win). These ignorant yarn shops just did not deserve your custom.

Anonymous said...

I live in Denmark where men knitting is no big deal, but not very common either.

The most cool LYS in my area has a very competent male sales person. We had a wonderful discussion about how best to fool the security so as to get knitting needles on board a plane.

Ditmar

susan93940 said...

Franklin,

You bring up a point that must be discussed! Knit shop owners who offend. In this economic downturn, some will leave the business entirely because they discourage knitting, even though it is not in their best financial interest to do so.

Having worked in a knit shop, may I offer this to you? Is the LYS near a place where mandatory counseling is taking place? I suspect the counselors encourage their clients to hug, yea molest the yarn so that they can be "in the moment" or something like that. This wears down beautiful yarn and even I was stunned at some of the behavior. Soon the shop owner anticipates all new customers being of strange behavior and motivations other than knitting.

Once I was alone in the shop when a lady and her daughter came in very closely followed by a young man. For a few seconds it looked as if he was in her party. They separated, browsed and soon she made a call on her cell phone,speaking quietly and in a foreign language. Minutes later her husband arrived and stood near the counter like a Marine, ready for anything. I did not think it unusual, but after the young male knitter left the shop the lady came up to me and said that the young man had put a ball of yarn in the pouch he was carrying. She was afraid of him and called her husband on the cell phone.

When the young man came back I met him at the door and told him that there was nothing in the shop for him and he needed to go. He was very angry at this and yelled that he had paid money to take the bus to get to this yarn shop. Absent the owner of the shop, I determined that the proper thing was to call the police and make a report.

There was also the woman who wanted to sit at the store's table all day and look at patterns. She was in such a disorganized, hostile, emotional state she would have discouraged anyone who came near her. She was exited by way of closing the shop for an early lunch and I never saw her again.

Sooooo, cut them some slack when store employees dog your steps. You don't know what the employees had to put up with just before you crossed the threshhold. Good stores can weather the down cycles. Good stores encourage and support knitting and the people who do it. If you feel you have discovered a store with welcoming atmosphere, compliment them, join a class, ask the salesperson questions about their opinions of yarns, their favorites, etc. Then keep them in your prayers and soon they will relax in your presence because you have practiced good will towards them.

I worked in a LYS (currently out of business) where the owner discouraged me from answering some of the simplest questions because she wanted to have customers attend paid classes. I think that this policy discouraged customers. If a customer comes to your store solely to ask a question, at least they are remembering your yarn store as a resource.

Another nail in the coffin for inflexible, offensive shop owners is the internet. Offensive shop owners do not have anything to do with the internet. If they are the only yarn shop in town, local knitters drive further or use the internet to acquire yarn, books, needles, etc. So far, I have not heard of bad internet yarn providers. Inflexible brick-and-mortar shop owners survive because of forces beyond their control, such as firsttime visitors to the area or a general popularity of knitting. The best response on our part is to be ready to walk away without purchasing from an unwelcoming (unbusinesslike) yarn shop.

If you are coming to the Monterey Peninsula in California, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Monarch Knitting in Pacific Grove--EXCELLENT, worth the extra miles. Perhaps if there is an LYS Hall of Fame somewhere on the internet, Monarch must be added to the list. I also recommend the PassionFish restaurant and the Little Red House restaurant (near Pacific Grove P.O.) as nearby delightful restaurants. There are many good restaurants in Pacific Grove!

Am so looking forward to your blog and podcast!

btw, I'm susan93940m at gmail dot com

JemDale said...

Well so far so good. To be honest though I was really scared of going to the only yarn shop in town. Especially since I live in a farming community in Illinois. But not only did I have a great experience, but I was even invited back by the owner! As far as why did I start knitting...well my daughter deserves the very best from her father. So with that in mind I say why not. Then when my son was born I decided that he should at least know that men are allowed to persue that arts that are considered feminine without fear of being called inappropriate names or being treated as a rapist at the WMCA. Men created knitting so men should be able to enjoy knitting! Viva la Knit

moosemomh said...

I am charmed and delighted to find Panoticon with the varied thoughts and projects you share. don't knit as much since moving to florida, have a very old neighbor who was an amazing knitter whose pride and joy is the white cashmere dress she knitted. to think I stumbled across this site from a link I found while googling sweaters and virginity!

keep up the wonderful work

Anonymous said...

Hi Franklin, GREAT story, absolutely wonderful! Glad you soldiered on with your knitting. I found your blog from a post about the Manly Maze sweater that you tried on at a Knitty Gritty taping. (the sweater is YOU, btw) But now, I must ask . . . what did you think of a sweater knit of hemp yarn? I'm considering knitting it for my BF and would love any info you can provide about how the sweater felt. THANKS!

Tracy at woollies.wordpress.com said...

I've just found your blog and am enjoying it immensely! About the Women's Educational and Industrial Union in Boston--the saddest thing about that wonderful place is that they closed down just about a year before knitting became a craze. If they could have held on just a little longer, they would be flourishing by now. Great location--and there are no other knit shops right nearby. Even so, some members of their staff did have an attitude problem. I never felt truly comfortable there, even as a female knitter who has been knitting since childhood--and who comes from a long line of female AND male knitters.

Stitchinghermit said...

I love to hear knitting stories! I was self taught as well in knitting, was given the basics in crochet by relatives.
Some yarn shops are more stuffy than others, and I think that mosts were more so in years prior to the current knitting boom.
I agree with an earlier reply about Mpls., St. Paul shops, many of them are not stuffy, and welcome all fiber enthusiasts.
At least one shop has a male owner , others employ and welcome men.

Anonymous said...

Hi Franklin! I just read your story on how you started to knit. I knit and shop at Woolly Lamb in Chicago. It's near Northwest Highway and Nina on the northwest side of Chicago. You won't be treated like a rapist there! We're a very friendly group and love newcomers! Come and try it out!

Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Franklin.Made me smile. You are a wonderful knitter!I am enjoying looking at everything that you have made!

Sunflower Farm said...

I loved your story very brave of you! You are the knitter I can only dream of being.

Jen said...

Yup. I knit in Chicago, I'm female, and am also treated like a rapist at my LYS. They seem perplexed and violated by my odd insistance on buying yarn, of all things.

Wee Quantum Furball said...

How utterly odd. We love our men in the shops down here in Austin - and all I know about sewing and cooking came from my father. Heck, he had to teach mom how to do both - and after 46 years together, she's getting a good grip on both.

My mother taught me to crochet and knit - but, it's always been my father who's picked the fibre. He's just really good at it. And he's always been treated lovely in stores - though he's had an odd look or two, it's always been a joy for him.

I'm so sorry you have had other than pleasant experiences, Franklin.

Miss Sandra said...

What is it about unfriendly yarn shop personnel??? I'm an accomplished knitter. I live in western Massachusetts and I go to one location exclusively because they are the only pleasant shop I can find. No one glares at me or gets "toney" with attitude. WEBS. I love them. 'Nuff said.

Yarnhog said...

I wish I had known you at college. I also went to Harvard, where I never much felt I fit in. No money, no prep school, immigrant parents...whatever was "It", I wasn't. But I was an accomplished knitter, even then. I used to buy yarn at that unfriendly yarn shop myself (using money I earned at my JOB, the necessity for which appalled most of my fellow students, and my tutor, and the head of my department...). I would have enjoyed having a knitting friend. At the time, it seemed to me that knitting was just one more thing that made me not fit in. I guess that part of it isn't limited by gender.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, as always your stories hit home! I am currently traveling, and make a point of stopping in the LYS. I have been to 5 LYS within the region, and out of those 2 of them have treated me graciously! The others have treated me as if I am the "rapist" or less than deserving of the same customer service as the other customers present in the store. These shops should understand that the worst thing that I would even comprehend doing is to ogle and fondle all of the gorgeous yarns. LOL

a w said...

Thank you for sharing your story.
I love the fact that there are men who like to knit. I like to teach my son how when he gets a little older.

Anonymous said...

I love your knitting story! I think you might like mine, in 1990 my big tall truck driving uncle Ewen taught me to knit i was 4 and he was baby sitting me for the day, the rest of the time he was a big scary construction worker. :)

Amberlee said...

Completely brilliant and marvelously written story!

I am hoping that your YS experiences have changed...not just because you are a celebrity either. I am right there with you on how you felt about going into certain yarn shoppes. I didn't feel like a rapist, but I did feel like I wasn't trusted, I didn't exist or wasn't important. I would go into a store with hard earned money waiting to find something luscious only to be treated like a 5 year old being disrespected by adults just because they are kids. One look at my almost 6 ft tall, rather large build of a woman with 3 kids in tow and they would run the other way. No hello or welcome. Just that look of fear and a percieved hope that I would leave as quickly as I came. The hundreds of dollars they lost in purchases.....not just from me, but my children as well.

Fast forward 13 years and here I am...in Pittsburgh...I love it here. We have 2 lovely knitting stores I enjoy shopping at. It was so nice to have people ask what I was interested in or what I wanted to try next. Store owners who were surprised that my kids have been knitting for a few years and so has my DH.....(because they asked and I showed them how.)

My poor DH....he was treated poorly before because he was a man who hand no clue what he was looking for or what he wanted. He was brand new to knitting and the joy of Merino and Alpaca. He could spend an hour or two just drooling over, uh I mean, feeling the yarn. He was a man so either he 1. Must be Gay and we are just hiding it... (yes we have heard that....) *sigh* OR 2. he is really just waiting for the store to close so he can stalk the employees...or steal something, etc. PLEASE! Thank goodness for Natural Stitches and Knit One who have never treated him that way.

Someday I hope that love of fiber will not be prejudiced by race, creed, religion, or sexual orientation by store employees and that more and more of us will open our knitting circles to anyone who wishes to knit, crochet and enjoy the soothing feel of yarn softly swishing between our fingers.

It would be wonderful to meet you! If you ever visit Pittsburgh and would like a place to crash for the night you are more than welcome...I love to cook and we love to meet new people.... :) We love to sit and knit as a family too.

Gail said...

Reading this story AFTER looking at the 2009 calendar ... sweet.

Deborah said...

Our LYS treats men well from what I have seen. I think they are more prejudiced against tattoos (had a temp one one - they treated me differently - lol). It would be fun to have men around knitting. The hubby is definitely not a good sounding board. BTW, I am in Ogden, UT.

Loved It Itches - you rock!

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Male needlepointers are treated as rock gods. You need to get into a higher class obsession probably. [BG}

Seriously, the DAR membership isn't all that big a deal although they have a world class sampler collection someplace. Which I've never seen despite having DAR member relatives. Must come with the membership card which I have never bothered to get.

On the other hand, knitters pull out projects at the drop of a hat. You might be in the right creative activity after all!

Thanks for the witty and fun word journeys.

Jane, waving from the depths of Chilly Hollow where there are unused knitting needles--what am I waiting for? More hours in the day....

SharonKnits said...

Now you Know how I feel when I walk into Home Depot or a Lumber Yard.

infinityexplorer said...

I wish I had a great story like yours and others... but I don't. I learned at about 3 or 4 years old from my grandmum and mum. I come from a family of knitters, crocheters, tatters, embroidererssss & artists etc... so it was sort of inherited it. The one thing I can say is that knitting, crocheting, or whatever art I chose it has been full of fun and laughter and some of the best memories have stemmed from those activities. Sooo I intend to continue until I die or until my hands give out!

Christy said...

Wow. What a great story. I laughed out loud. I didn't have much better experience in yarn shops in the beginning either. Apparently, it was my youth that was a problem. I started knitting just before it was popular and the old biddies in the only yarn shop here just ignored me. I was horrified.
I just bought a new car and had to bring my Dad with me to get attention from the good ole boys at the car dealer. Now I had the same experience from their wives at the yarn shop. I was horrified.
But I caved and brought my mom with me the second time I went to the shop. Wouldn't you know, those old bags tripped over themselves to help her.
Thank God knitting is more popular and there are more yarn shops around. Many now managed by a more open minded group. Now I bring my mom with me for fun and not as a front man.
Thanks for sharing. Love your blog too!

Laurdania said...

My names Lauren C.
and i found your story on how you first came to knit very intriguing.I started off crocheting two or so years ago.I remember this girl was crocheting a blanket in my choir class during one of our very rare free days.and i began to watch her and before i could stop it(as usual) i was asking her what she was doing,how it was done.ect.I kinda felt like i was bothering her with my questions after awhileso i stopped.but i still had thise need to know,that wouldnt leave me alone.so one day i went to michaels and randomly asked one of the people who worked there if they knew of anyone who gave lessons in the area.and to my suprise they had a woman who worked there who gave lessons.so a week or so later i was taking lessons in the back store room of michaels.i quit after 2 lessons because i had caught on and being 15 at the time i didnt want 2 spend unnecissary money.(and money is hard 2 come by at that age{was for me atleast}). I started knitting a year later.i dont really remember why.but i would go up 2 my local library and check out like 5 books and 3 dvds on knitting at a time.and shut myself off in my room and just learn.^_^ i have had some problems in yarn stores.when I go in theres always a few older ladies that look at me like there suprised id be in a store as such.but after awhile of seeing me they dont act as strange.or if they do ive become oblivious to it.

Marisigh said...

My knitter-man is quite a man's man. He hunts, he fishes, he builds houses and runs corporate IT networks. And about two months ago he discovered knitting. He loves the sideways glances and hushed murmers when he strides purposfully into the yarn shop, talking gauge, looking for circular needles or discussing his latest business plan (it involves a product line all hand-knit by men...) I'm sitting here now (as I always do in the evenings) wearing his first-ever creation -- A lovely, variegated sage green scarf/shawl that took him HOURS AND HOURS to make. He made scarves for everyone in the world for Christmas and has moved on to hats and giving me some rather insightful suggestions for the pair of gloves I'm working on. I may be biased -- but I think men that knit are sexy!

MS

sal2154 said...

Franklin - I'm fairly new to the world of yarn. I've been doing needlework (cross stiching, etc.) for a while, and I just started learning to knit, and also got hooked (just can't avoid that pun) on crochet and I CAN'T STOP. I have to say my first experience in a yarn shop I almost felt like I was going to buy porn, but ultimately I felt pretty welcome. It makes me feel good to see that there are other men into it all. Thanks.

Sal

Eliza the Knitter of Yore said...

Franklin! I was sent the link to your blog just this week (by a mutual friend, of course), and thought it would be fun to see if you mentioned our little knitting circle in your description of how you came to knit. Imagine my surprise to learn that not only do you mention it, you talk about me! And my knitting! I of course have my own memories of the group, and for years have shared stories with friends of our raucous conversations....

I feel famous, although I do think I need to clarify that 1) while I may have come across as old New England, I am the child of immigrants two generations back (granted, from England and Germany), and 2) I am not that great or committed a knitter! I seem to have been good at pulling the wool over people's eyes...

Sadly, my frustration at my tension problems has led me to stop knitting for periods of years at a time (and I found another outlet for my creative juices, pottery). My DH has been trying to get me reengaged, by having his sister make me a set of little bags to keep my needles in, and I am trying to knit something for my 13-month old son, but it's a bit of a slog.

In any case, I am thrilled to have contributed in any small way to your being a paragon of knitting greatness! And I'm going to forward your blog on to my 8-year-old nephew, who spends all his free time with the fiber arts!
xoxo Eliza

Susie said...

What a great idea to post your story! One thing I do have to say...come to NYC yarn shops. Here we love men who knit! I'm a new knitter and I'm always interested in talking to other knitters, male or female!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm the exception, but I was taught to knit in the '50s by my father - who would lift up the end of small cars so we could put cinderblocks under the axles. (Tennessee) He made the knitting needles himself. Didn't most men know how to knit from WWII and socks? My mother could not knit at all.

aj from Milwaukee

Heidi said...

I just ran across your website in a search for ruanas. Somehow, although I have long enjoyed your cartoons, I had never found your story of knitogenesis before. It made me kind of teary. For what it's worth, not all women who knit feel threatened by knitting men. My grandma taught my Dad (and all the other boyscouts in his troop) to knit when he was a kid. Although none of them have taken me up on it yet, I have also offered several times to teach male friends and acquaintances to knit. And, the neighborhood SnB has both men and women (well, okay, one man and several women, but at least it's a step in the right direction). You would be most welcome if you are ever in the area. The group is listed under "charm city knitters" on Ravelry.
love
Heidi

Jill said...

Thank you for the story. I went to a slightly less venerable ivy-covered institution in New Haven, CT and learned to knit from my roommate Erin, almost a quarter-century ago. I do not patronize the LYS in a neighboring town run by the not-affectionately named Knitting Witch. An adult shopping with a child/children is treated like the barbarian hordes. Of course I know some children are ill-behaved; I am extremely sensitive to my own kids' behavior and threaten, bribe and reward with gusto, even bring them their own books to look at if it's to be a browsing trip. But how will they learn to love fiber crafts if they never go to a store? So it isn't just men who are given the ol' hairy eyeball. My fave LYS has a box of toys under the sit n' knit bench.

Thank you for your work; your writing is a pleasure to read and your wry humor is sadly even more essential in the current climate.

Keep up the good fight.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome :)

Bee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bee said...

Well, I guess I should start by thanking you for the wakeup call.
Having been born & raised in California, I tend to forget that there is a whole world of people out there who think in terms of 'whitebread/notwhite' or 'him/her' or even 'gay/straight.’
I learned to knit (taught myself out of desperation) when I was 5 or 6; but that is another story, for another time...
Fast forward (many years) I now teach in several LYS's and have to say that our approach is much different than what you encountered.
Since you share stories with us all the time, I thought I’d share one with you.
A few months ago a man came into the store I play at, just looking around. (They pay me for playing there- does that count as work?)
I hit him with my usual opening line, "So, knit, crochet, or do you go both ways?" He laughed, and I could see him relax. He explained that he didn't do either, but that when he found out we were there (in town) he just HAD to stop in and take a look around.
Let me pause for a moment here to mention that he couldn’t have been any more obvious is he’d been wearing a T that said, “We’re here and we’re queer” in rainbow letters across the size XL front. (Yes, some people still do wear those in California, the land of tacky dressers.)
I teased him, "Sorry, but we don't get many men in here, so you won't be allowed to leave unless you learn to do one or the other."
He countered with, "That's OK, I'm not a real man."
Now at this point I'm thinking, "Oh! Honey! Have I got a few friends who would think otherwise," but I kept that to myself.
I said, "That's OK honey, I'm not a real woman. And now you HAVE GOT TO learn to knit, 'cause what this town needs is another stereotype. You’ll be back, ‘cause once you’ve been here, you won’t stay away."
He came back 3 days later looking for me. I only play yarn store on Sundays, (and I run “Thursday night hookers –the crochet group- on (DUH!) Thursday nights) so he had to wait another few days until I was back in the store, but he kept coming back until I was there, and he did learn to knit. His boyfriend teases him about being “Such a chick” but I don’t hear him complain about the scarves, hand warmers and socks he’s sporting these days. I may suggest that the next project be a gag though; he is a nagging bitch… oops! Can I say that here?
In closing, I must say that the only solution for your troublesome yarn store sitch is to move to California. You will be warmer, and warmly greeted; and I could be your new Eliza –although I think you are well past the need, I must say.
On another note, I have experienced the same treatment whilst frequenting my LHS (local hardware store.) I get the “Need some help little lady?” so often that could scream. On one visit I was looking for bearings and copper tubing (another long story) when I was approached by a young man wearing cowboy boots. Now the cowboy boots gave me cause to pause, you see I live in an area with an aggie college and some real “down home” boys. (Sad, too, ‘cause some of them could do with a trip out of the closet.) He approached me like SWAT teams do unexploded devices and stayed at arm’s length from me for the entire conversation. “Do you need some help may-yam’? Can I help you find your husband?” I wonder if that line actually works for him. I explained what I was looking for and he said, “There’s a good machine shop in town with qualified people that could probably make that for you.” At this point I am beginning to be seriously concerned that the steam rising from my ears will set off the smoke detector in the building, but I took a deep breath and replied, “I have a degree in engineering and one in chemistry; I think I can manage, thanks.” I noted the name on his badge for the 3 page letter I sent to the corporate office the next day, explaining what happened and that I did visit the machine shop he suggested and that they were kind enough to sell me the parts that I would have spent $300.00 in their store. The pen is mightier, and all that…
Until we meet again, happy knitting and penning,
B

AliaK said...

great story - I'm glad you got back into it

Anonymous said...

Hey, I went to the same party school you went to . . . and while I don't get the reaction you do in a yarn shop (I'm female) nevertheless, the couple times I've strolled in wearing my Navy uniform I swear I've gotten a similar one!

How anyone could survive shipboard life without SEVERAL projects on the needles is beyond me . . .

Kris said...

Your story is very interesting. I have to agree with how you believe a scarf should be... even tho I've just started, my scarf is amost 2 feet wide and one ball made about 9 inches of scarf.. I learned that I dont need to make the stitches go all the way down the needle lol.

The Orange Fibre Company said...

It's like Cara says about women in hardware stores - we get the same crap. I probably have more (and better) power tools than most of the guys who try to 'help' me in the average hardware store, but they'll never know that. And I'm a knitter and spinner, too.

How did that go, something about books and their covers... =)

Sandi said...

Like so many who have posted replies to your story, I had to reply to say I Too have had the "cold stare" and the "what is taking you so long" look or the looks of impatience, despite the fact I was buying a fair amount of yarn for quite a nice price. I have been to a yarn store in Arlington, Ma. and one in Littleton, Ma and same thing. I like men who knit, quilt or sew. My ex husband taught me how to sew. Men who work in fibre are usually come up with pretty interesting stuff. the LYS's seem to have some cold weird people.

sockjoan said...

I trust you've come across the book "A History of Hand Knitting" by Richard Rutt (who is, or was, the Anglican Bishop of Leicester, England). Rutt was taught to knit as a lad by his grandfather, to keep him out of mischief in wet weather. I taught my grandson to knit when he was about seven; the local tough guy sneered, but he didn't end up with a groovy beanie. Said grandson now teaches his girlfriends to knit, crochet and spin.

mamakin said...

New here & love your story. I taught my son & dtr how to crochet & knit when they were very young. In HS my son was the only guy in the Key Club who joined the group to crochet blankets for preemies. Asked how he felt being the only guy in the group- he was fine with it & anyone who wasn't would be invited to see if they could do it....awww they couldn't,what a shame. My dtr taught her 4th grade teacher how to knit & they started a little group that would knit or crochet during lunch break. These skills should be taught in all schools to all kids. They are more than relaxing, they teach math skills, dexterity, & problem solving among other things. They're 20 & 23 now. Oh, & they both also cook-even though 'everyone knows' all the best chefs are men, I made my daughter learn too. Gotta get past those barriers somehow!

Anonymous said...

Enjoying your blog- stumbled upon it while looking for a sweater pattern for my husband.'
I never thought anything much of guys knitting-my Grandpa learned to knit in school in Lithuania and was better at it than my Grandma she said he used to make gloves and such-I'd love to be able to make gloves!!
Thanks for sharing.
Cheryl
aka
knitnut@hotmail

adriene said...

Dude, everytime I read this, I just want to march into that store and shake them for being so rude to you - and any other customer, male or not! I'm thinking flags, protest cards, or just a sprinkling of good common sense!

I hope people treat you better from now on. I got your back. :)

Kneedle Pet said...

Hi Franklin,
I love your story. I just found out about you from a Focus Group that was formed to see if they are receptive of my Kneedle Pet. Kneedle Pet will hold knitting and crochet needles in one spot. A nice way to organize needles ranging in 0-10 US size. Maybe you could check it out at www.KneedlePet.com.

Kneedle Pet said...

Hi Franklin,
I love your story. I just found out about you from a Focus Group that was formed to see if they are receptive of my Kneedle Pet. Kneedle Pet will hold knitting and crochet needles in one spot. A nice way to organize needles ranging in 0-10 US size. Maybe you could check it out at www.KneedlePet.com.

VJ said...

I'm dyslexic and no one believed I would amount to much in life. I was a creature to be pitied. So when my friend Jill offered to teach me to knit through the e.mail I sort of laughed. She insisted because I could crochet I COULD learn to knit. She wouldn't take no for an answer! So now I'm a knitter! I knit socks, I knit lace, I knit cables (which take forever), I knit gifts for family and friends. The word "can't" should be removed from the lexicon.

me said...

Snooty yarn shops are everywhere! I like you. :-)

Violetstone said...

HI, great story. If you came to London you would discover iKnit which is a LYS run by men so I think you will be welcome there.

I feel nervous in yarn shops, I am a relatively old knitter and funnily enough I started knitting seriously in the 80's, and then i felt nervous in knitting shops because I felt too young. Now I feel too old in all the trendy knitting shops. Perhaps everyone feels inadequate in yarn shops.Is this the unspoken 'curse of the LYS'

Michele said...

Terrific story.Thanks for sharing it with this novice knitter and blogger.

Sioux B said...

Phoo on the folk in the Boston and Chicago yarn shops. They do this to women too, you know. If you aren't part of their in-group, then you just don't count. So I say again, phoo on them.

Jen said...

We women get that treatment when we go into a computer or electronics store - we get the "your feeble female minds just can't possibly understand anything about computers" attitude (I work in the field). If I go with my husband the sales person will ignore me completely.

Fortunately, not everyone is like that - my husband is a good example. I couldn't be with someone who doesn't respect my interests, whether they are into them or not.

Anyway, I got introduced to knitting by a friend about 3 years ago and got hooked. It's a great way to reduce stress and I've found that I've missed doing something creative much more than I realized.

I hope you continue to do what you love. Please let me know if you're ever in the Sacramento, CA area - I'd be happy to take you around to all the great knitting shops and we can stare down any rude people together!

Diana L. Sullivan, CPA said...

Hi Franklin,

I had a yarn shop for eight years in Southern California and the knitting guy customers were great. (I did have one customer, once, that I was afraid of, but he had almost nothing on...another story.) We had one guy who could do every kind of needlework! I'm out of that business now, but still an obsessive knitter.

You should think about a knitting machine...knitting creativity on steroids!

Honour Horne-Jaruk said...

Respected friend:
My mother taught all of her children knitting, including both sons (which, in one case, involved sitting in front of a mirror and telling my left-handed brother "just do what the mirror does"... and it worked!). Then I grew up, joined the army, and became a (supposedly unemployable) disabled veteran. As a result, I've spent my adult life working in the field of Historic Clothing, including old-- sometimes very old-- knitting designs.
Right now, I have a potential commission from a museum to reproduce a 1909 knitted sweater. Could you please do a piece on translating older notations into modern ones? The original instructions have my head all 'splody.

Kristina said...

before i ever knew anything about knitting, when i was living in boston, i used to go into the women's ed and ind union and look at the tatting supplies. i always felt this pull to learn because my grandmother tatted. but man, you go in and look at that stuff, and it's like... oh yeah, sure.... i'll get right on that!

i hated handicrafts my whole life, never enjoyed them. so it's so odd that i'm in love with knitting! three years ago, after my son was born, i read about knitting in a meditative way in one of my yoga magazines, and took a night class in knitting at the local high school. thank god i have since found yarn shops, so i was able to undo the damage of that first class!

needless to say, since taking up knitting, my yoga practice has suffered greatly, as knitting takes up any free time i have!

i don't have much stamina though, and have yet to finish a project larger than a scarf. hats, mittens, socks, baby stuff... i have a gorgeous lace shawl started for my mom, and i hope it doesn't go the way of that sweater for my husband...

edwina said...

Hi Franklin,

So enjoying your blog and sharing it with deserving others.
My brother taught me to knit, because my mother said she didn't have time to teach a left hander to knit. I was eight, I guess. I've been knitting ever since. I will teach anyone who asks, and some who don't. I taught my children, and their friends. I hope some of them stick with it.

Anonymous said...

Franklin,
First, thanks for not grabbing the nickname route! As for being treated like a rapist...some people are just plain DUMB and fear everything. I love seeing people of all kinds and sizes in stores, athough I do occasionally wish the snooty ones who "know everthing" and have to lord it over the rest of us would trip and land on their keister. You'd be welcome in my LYS in Bryan, Texas!

k4tog said...

If you ever get to Uniquely Knit in New London MN, we would not treat you like a rapist, but we may never let you out of the shop either. Just discovered your blog today, never been a blog reader, you made me a convert! Going to Stitches Midwest in August maybe I'll be brave enought to say hi.
Thanks for all the laughs!

I Love FX! said...

If you are ever in Seattle, I invite you to Tricoter. Not only are they male knitter friendly; they published a great book of mens' knit projects and have a male staff member! You are welcome to just come in and stitch n' bitch, shop, or just knit quietly in a place that won't think you are strange and will be enthusiastic about whatever you are attempting to knit that day, month, or over several years.

Grandma Cath said...

In college I learned how to do Aran knitting (cables, and knots and complicated stuff) from a man named Keiran who was a rugby player and one of seven children. His Irish imigrant parents both knit on consignment for Irish Fisherman Handknits and each of the kids learned as soon as they could hold needles to contribute to the family's cottage industry hobby. He said the kids knit the sleeves while the adults did fronts and backs, and he proudly specialized in the cardigan fronts with elaborate button bands.

Glad to be knitting in Chicago with a man like you!

Richie·Feng said...

In this game, Maple Mesos is very useful for you level up your character and weapons. Farming is a good way for you to make Cheap Maple Mesos. When you got 100 Cheap MapleStory Mesos, it is probably time to sell the items you collected and repair your equipment as well.

electricbluebird said...

Just found your blog and I am in love. Actually, it came from a list of the very best knitting blogs. I already read mason dixon and harlot so hooray for a new love.

Jenny Juice said...

I'm a knitter who just started a blog so I was searching for fellow knitters. Your finished projects are wonderful! Those nasty biddies at the LYS are missing out!

Jessica-Jean said...

Some yarn shop owners and/or employees are idiots, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. I've learned to get my supplies elsewhere than from the persnickety snobs who think I'm casing the joint.

Helmsdaughter said...

I just found your blog last night and have been enjoying reading about your knitting adventures. I have been knitting for about 8 years now (and regretting that I blew my grandmother off when she offered to teach me to knit back when I was a little girl of 8 years of age). My first completed project was actually a sock--scarves bored me and a sweater was too daunting. I have male friends who knit, crochet, do amazingly intricate embroidery, and other textile-based arts, so I don't find the idea of you knitting odd at all. :) Thanks for persevering at something you obviously love, and thanks for sharing it with us!

lorrwill said...

This story is awesome. Oh how I wish I had an Eliza in my life but I don't.

The LYS: is it universal?

I have been in mine exactly twice.

I will NEVER set foot in there again. Even though it is walking distance from my flat. Even though I want to take a knitting class so badly that I am losing sleep. They are THAT EVIL. (Rude, insanely expensive and rude. Not very much stock and did I mention they are freaking rude?)


I had not idea there were still bastions of femaleness and maleness. I don't get why the women would treat you so poorly. Back when Peyton Place on on the air and society was more brainwashed about his and hers, maybe I could cut them some slack but now? Unbelievable and wrong on a bunch of levels.

Julia said...

You are speaking from the soul of a true knitter. Goodness! I lived in Chi-town 1986-1997, and all those years, was searching for like minded knitters like you. The only man knitter people knew of was Kaffee Fassett. Next, I saw you on Knitty!
There used to be the Chicago Knitters Guild and my only other dear knitting friend Mary - and yes I felt like a geek too.
Those days are fortunately over, and I see that the kitting craze has outstretched that in Germany. Yet the yarns here are far less expensive.
Keep up the good work and I like your blog a lot,
Greetings from Germany
Julia

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lin said...

Really like your blog, and this story in particular. Most California stores could give a hoot what gender/orientation you are, especially in the bigger urban towns like L.A. and S.F. But don't feel singled out... I machine knit as well as hand knit. When I mention this, the angry stares that I get in yarn shops would make you laugh. Something about "cheating."

Just thumb your nose at 'em and keep writing and knitting. That's the best revenge. And I think you're great!

--lin
p.s. m.k. is definitely not cheating.

one crow dancing said...

I love your Ladies Traveling Cap! As there ae no museums in my area for me to hang about (or I definitely would!) I can absolutely see myself wearing this cap about the house on a cold Maine winter's day. I think I need to make this.yes I do.

I enjoyed your bio and have so much appreciation when I find a guy that knits/crochets. I haven't any idea why women would act in such a weird manner. They need to get a grip!

You Rock!
namaste

Rocket Scientist said...

Glad to discover your story here. I'm a transplanted New Englander (to Texas). My experiences growing up in Boston were that, for a state that considers itself so progressive, they're hopelessly reactionary. In my case, I grew up spending months every school year trying to get the school district to let me take shop classes. Girls were simply not allowed to take shop classes. Thank God when I moved to Texas, I was able to take the most fabulous shop classes for adults at Alvin Community College. Great fun and I've built a lot of furniture for our family. And there's nobody who works harder at something than someone who has been told they can't. I'm also a fierce and productive knitter, who fortunately has had 6 children go to college in Ohio so I can knit hats, scarves and intricate mittens for them. But my true love here is lace knitting, actually useful in the winters here. Congratulations on sticking with the knitting, and just shop somewhere outside of New England.

Laura said...

Yeah...the last time I saw a man in a yarn shop, my friends and I almost clubbed him on the head, drug him back to our cave, and then fought over who got to marry him. That's a whole different problem from the one you had...

Cheryl Hirshman said...

Hi,
So sorry you had such a terrible experience going to knitting stores. Especially because it is believed that men (sailors) were the first people to bring knitting to Europe from the Middle East. In fact, one school of thought is that the term spinning a yarn was coined when the sailors would get together and mend the nets! Anyway, I
enjoy your site! I am an artist/educator working primarily in yarn and fabric,video and sound. I am trying to gather stories about women/men and knitting for my thesis project. Please visit my site: http://voiceoftheyarn.blogspot.com and share your stories. Please also invite your friends, family and followers to visit as well. Thanks!
Cheryl

Carolina said...

I thought it was funny about wanting to join the DAR. I guess I'm eligible, since my grandma was a member. She had a book tracing our lineage to a French doctor. When I finally got my hands on it, I discovered that he was a surgeon on a French privateer. Yeah, I'm descended from a pirate! She also kept top secret that her grandmother was as she wrote a "half breed", ie half native American. I imagine she couldn't have been in the DAR had the other ladies known.

nlcondit said...

How funny to have stumbled across your story as I sit on this snowy evening teaching my son to knit. Great story. My older son loved the bit about feeling like the Lone Weird Kid as he's pretty sure that's him.

Anonymous said...

Hi Franklin; just discovered ur knitting blog. I learned to knit in the mid 1940's by watching my BF's brother (a 3rd grader) practicing knitting from school. My first supplies were two sharpened pencils and that gray wool yarn from an old base-ball. (dont no if they still have yarn in base-balls anymore). I am an avid knitter, crocheter, spin w/wheel and drop spindles, needlepoint, embroider, indian bead weaving - all self taught. There arent enough hours in the day or room in the house for all of my projects and supplies. I have just started teaching my 6 yr old grandson how to knit. I think everyone should learn this craft, it is great for eye-hand coordination, relaxation, and meditation. It even keeps the grey cells involved and wards off Alzheimers. I'm also an agoraphobic, so going to LYS can be difficult for me. But, there is a wonder LYS, here in San Antonio, Tx - called the Yarnivore) and they are wonderful w/everyone. Even my non-knitting DH when he goes in to get me some yarn or notions - has been treated w/kindnes, respect, and the help he deserves. I have enjoyed reading your blog, and have been reading every post I can, it will take me quite some time to accomplish this task.
I love knitting socks, two at a time, from the toe up, on one huge (60") circular needle, ala, Magic Loop. I love Addi-turbos and Hiya Hiya, and Knit-picks circular needles in particular.
Please keep writing and posting, and by all means, continue to Knit, and teach us all a little someting.
Once again, Thank you for writing, knitting, and sharing w/us.
MsXanax123

Yarngirl said...

Hi Franklin. =)

I found your blog via the Stitches In Time pattern on knitty. I got into knitting the old fashioned way - my grandmother taught me - and I love to hear other people's "intro to knitting" stories.

I've found myself in unfriendly yarn stores, even without the added "stigma" of being male. I'm so sorry that you've found yourself feeling unwelcome in a shoppe that you wanted to enjoy. Hooray for enforced gender roles, eh? =P

Anne-Claire said...

I helped out in a local yarn store, here in Germany, for a while. One day, a gorgeous man walked in, and my heart lifted. Not because of his gorgeousness, but because I thought Ah Ha ... a convert! He stopped inside the doorway, got his cell phone out and punched in a number. "Which colors did you say you needed, and how many?", he asked his girlfriend. Oh well. A man who was man enough to get out there and buy yarn for his girlfriend who just HAD to get her bag finished. At least I had the satisfaction of being the one who got her started in the first place, through my knitting workshop. Her boyfriend, sadly, was not interested in being recruited for further sessions.

Anonymous said...

during ww1 entire families knitted for the troops, so my father grew up knitting and taught my mother to knit. her second husband specialized in argyles, lessons sourced similarly. for years i took the commuter rail into boston and knitted. sometime around november the ex-waldorf young men would start hurriedly on their scarves for christmas gifts. it was always a treat to see a goth-dressed male with a face full of metal decor knitting. up with knitting as a cognitive enhancement. now, does anyone have ideas about how to use knitting to stave off cognitive decline?

Anonymous said...

I for one am thrilled you became a knitter, particularly after your class today at VKL!
It was great meeting and listening to you. The only bad part of your class was, that you made the 3 hours FLY by, way too fast!!!!
come back to NY soon, PLEASE!~beth
(She who gave you silly bandz:o)

Christine said...

You and my husband will have to get together some day and discuss how nice it is to have a *proper* scarf. While you do so, can you please convince him that if he's going to spend all that time on something that big, perhaps something more interesting that garter stitch might be a good idea?

Tanya said...

Hello Franklin! I grew up next to Cambridge, sort of in the orbit of Harvard (I seem to remember going to the Lowell House Waltz party once in late '80s, invited by a resident). My mother, a knitter herself, worked in Harvard Square - if your unfriendly, expensive LYS experience was at Woolcott, you may feel vindicated to know they are now out of business. I don't think their stock was ever all that "politically correct" - just posh and overpriced.

My introduction to knitting came from my mother, who generally dragged me along to the LYS in Lexington whenever she wanted to make me something. But I was never interested in learning to knit myself until ten years ago or so, after I'd moved to Germany. Luckily, there is a very nice LYS nearby, with friendly, helpful staff. They and my mother have helped me past the inevitable beginner's frustrations.

Thank you for sharing your story - it was a fun read!

Alyson said...

I haven't read all of the comments but had two of my own, redundancy be damned!

1) The women's union closed years ago and the location is now an awful iParty store.

2) as a female: I HAVE HAD THE SAME EXPERIENCES (or fear them, which is essentially the same thing) IN YARN STORES!!! Thus, I avoid them because they are intimidating and buy most of my yarn from horrible box-y stores (Joann, not wally world) and Webs.

Let's open an nice to men and not intimidating to women yarn store! Somewhere warmer than either Chicago or Boston but not too warm that people don't need their sweaters.

haidersadia said...

Hi,
Just wanted to let you know that my DAD taught me how to knit !!

I'm his only daughter, I have brothers but they don't knit.Me and my Dad are knitting partners. I knit the fronts of our vests and he knits the backs as he does not want to be bothered with patterns....

Happy Knitting !!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am new to your blog and love your writings. Just read "How I Came to Knit" and thoroughly enjoyed it. At the LYS I attend when a man comes in I always make sure he feels welcome, ask him if he is a knitter and if not rattle off a few male names who knit and say "you should try it, very relaxing". Anyway, people who work in yarn shops shouldn't be there if they make you or anyone else feel uncomfortable or that you are doing them a big favor by being there. I have experienced that myself in a few shops. Happy Blogging and Knitting.

Scout130b said...

I love your story!

As a young adult I was in Germany for a friend's wedding, doing a bit of embroidery to fill the time on trains and planes.

During the six weeks I spent with the bride's parents, I embroidered her parents hankies with the town crest.

One day while I was sitting there stitching, Elfrieda said to me, "Why do you embroider? It is such a waste of time. You should learn to knit."

She showed me how to knit 28 years ago, so I am an American picker who learned to knit in German. Elfrieda died three months ago and I just finished a sweater for my five year-old son. How grateful I am to have learned.

Sue said...

October in Perth, Western Australia is glorious weather-wise....Perfect for our Pride parade. It gives you enough time to knit yourself that eight foot long, nine inches wide Pride scarf.....We could have an out and proud knitting float. ;)

Joede said...

Women's Educational and Industrial Union; I'll have to check that out. I've only been to one yarn shop in Cambridge not far from the Yard (I'm a student) but it's too small. Luckily, I live in NH and actually get to drive to VT for great wool. (Yes, eat your heart out). :-) bwahahahahahah!!

Chandra the Crazed Quilter said...

Interesting. Portland, OR is a bit of a mecca for the unusual. I knit, quilt and sew, and I have found that most men who join these activities are scrutinized first for sexual orientation, and if heterosexual, subjected to women flinging themselves upon said crafter, and if homosexual, openly welcomed, befriended, and always welcome to gossip with the girls.

I can think of one yarn shop and one quilt shop off the top of my head that either employees men or even has one as a co-owner.

Should you ever make it to the Portland metro area, I'd be happy to show you around.

Paul said...

I am guy who frequents the LYS and the not so local yarn shops and I always feel that I'm considered an alien when I enter the shop. I have that rapist feeling also! The feeling that I'm not a knitter. I am followed around the shop as if I'm going to pilfer something instead of buying fabulous yarn like the good customer I am. Lead by my partner, we took a sunday drive to a New Jersey Yarn Shop, I purchased 3 hanks of Malabrigo. to add to the 12 others with me i'd brought with me for a sweater I was planning. We'd bought some in Vermont on vacation, some on a New York trip, some in Mass. and so we were now going to add some from New Jersey. I made the horrible mistake of asking could I wind the hanks I purchased from Mass. 5 hanks in total. 8 hanks to wind in total. Some where in the middle. I was treated as a shoplifter. The woman who greeted us so lovely when we walked into the store, now was aggressively reaching into my bags of previously purchased yarn expecting to find stolen yarn. I was completely aghast!!! I began to pull the yarn out myself and show that this was not their yarn! I was hurt and embarrassed and angry beyond belief! I replaced the yarn and immediately left knowing that i'd never return to the place that seemed so beautiful upon entry, but that was in every way hurtful and scarring!

Anonymous said...

Hi Franklin--I'm about 6 years late answering your post, so I hope you read this.
Just discovered your blog and love it, especially the story about your grade school teacher and "Raquel Welch." (I was once caned in kindergarten for coloring outside the lines!--but that was Australia years ago, and since then I think creativity is encouraged a bit more there.)
Hope you were only kidding re giving up knitting for NASCAR!
Re being treated badly in LYS's--that happens to women too. Some LYS owners are really weird and don't seem to get that you have to be nice to customers to stay in business (I guess that's why so many of them are now out of business).

kathy b said...

Well, Franklin, who has the last laugh now? You certainly do. As for yarn shop snobbery, it isn't limited to you, sweetie. I am sorry for your consistent bad experiences in what are supposed to be our little yarn havens. Here's to internet shopping I guess.
I am taking your photography course at the Midwest Fiber Fair and am overjoyed that I got the ...last.....slot open...... yesterday.
So looking forward to meeting you and learning more about blog knit images.

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Naycha said...

I keep trying to get my husband to knit! It's something I love so much that I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it just as much. I wish more men (and women) would put aside the stereotypes and pick up some needles! I would love to have just one friend nearby, male or female, who shares my fiber/yarn/knitting addiction!

Anonymous said...

I'm reading this in 2011 because I just discovered your blog. If you haven't already, do come up to Highland Park to Mia Bella Yarns. The owner is really friendly, and her brother (who also works there) turns out some amazing knitwear. For sure he gets some odd looks from customers, who don't expect to see (a) a male (b) teenager knitting in semi-public, but we all love him.

"Hi, my Ravelry name is MrsTinks-a-Lot and I'm an Archers Addict."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your great story, Franklin!!! You are indeed a very creative man with a wonderful heart!!!

Just to say, I'm an older woman who's been knitting for about 14 years (okay, I admit, the first 10 years were mostly afghans a/c being too afraid of gauge), and I still feel intimidated about going into a yarn shop. I'm not quite sure why. It might in part be due to the fact that I take WAY too much time trying to make a decision, and I hem and haw for so long that I start being afraid the employees will think I'm about to pilfer something. And then I can't concentrate anymore and have to leave the shop. Crazy but true. So I end up buying all my yarn online now. Oh, well, one of these days... I'm also a slow knitter, and I've seen women clicking along so easily - a little intimidating. Wish I'd taught myself continental instead of the throw-over method!

Well, I've rambled on a little too much, but I just want to end this by saying a big THANK YOU again!!!

Milly said...

Hi Franklin,
I met you sort of, through a hangout recently with Kimberly Reynolds. I was the quiet one. I loved your "how I got started" story and I totally agree with you and other commenters,WTH is wrong with people who put themselves above others especially when you are participating in the same craft, such as knitting.

My story is a bit boring. I am a self taught knitter. I just decided one day after seeing someone knitting in public that I wanted to do that. So I did. I did eventually take classes at my LYC for socks and an EZ class. I knitted hats, scarves and mittens on my own for about 3 months and then took the sock class. I haven't looked back 5 years later as I work on my first lace shawl.
Love all your work!

MO said...

Franklin, I just "discovered you." I love your "how I came to knit" sotry. I know why men are shunned at fiber venus.....we KNOW that the men knitters are brave, wild in their choices of yarn and pattern, and every one of them is FUN in my experience. I taught men to needlepoint in the 70s in Chicago. Every darned one of them took the lesson and went out to create their own designs, using colorways that were unheard of. These guys were using needlework to recover from heart attacks and stress related diseases. YES. They did.

Deb (aka dlh426 on Ravelry) said...

Franklin, I love this story and wish I'd had a chance to meet you when you were living in Boston (yes, I'm a Bah-stonian lol). We could have stalked yarn shops together and terrorized the employees (in a good way....I'm one of those people who will try on every bizarre and funky hat in a shop just for giggles...and often to the annoyance of the clerks). And despite that, I'm actually a very shy person...until I get to know you. I sense that we could have gotten up to some yarn shenanigans :)

Neil Mudde said...

Loved your story, having knitted for most of my life ( now 72) love it, did a Kafke sweater about 35 years ago this took me a long time, it is now at the stage were I need to fix some of the holes, as having had several cats and dogs over the years have taken their toll, would not have missed any of it.
I graduated early to circular needles, and learned several top down, and bottom up sweaters, being able to use the basic pattern then creating cable in the sleeves, front etc etc, have done mock cables, since the are faster to do.
Love to do baby stuff, it is completed quickly, and makes great gifts, and are great for the out in the cold persons, who can use knitted goods to keep warm in around Toronto,knitting has kept me sane, well as sane as possible, it allows me to relax, watching a documentary etc while knitting something not too complicated
Love to knit on trips, and reaction from many people is worth a book of stories, from being amused to the looks of "ah no doubt one of those!" I could care or less, I creat original needlepoint mostly as wedding gifts, I re-create the wedding invitation this makes a wonderful gift for years to come, and is always appreciated.
Thanks for posting Eleanors mittens, Franklin, they looks pretty straightforward and great for using up some of my stash!!!!!!what is so great today is using all sort of colour combinations like the sky is the limit.
Being short and to the point has never been one of my plusses, but hey it could be worse.
Thanks again Franklin will connect with your blog and see what exciting things you are creating...
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njhou said...

Franklin

I'm very happy you remained to knit. I learned the crafts in Camp Fire Girls, then knitted and crocheted when my children were very little even to the point of embroidering books for them. However, once my husband was out of the Army and we went back to finish our degrees, only sewing remained. Then about 5-7 years ago , a granddaughter, about 10 at the time, decided she wanted to knit. I'd already taught them 'friendship bracelets' which to me is baby macrame. Well, I could not slow down enough to show her. So I took her to my church's sticher group (knit, sew, quilt and crochet) and the lady got me to put the needles back in my hands. I was amazed it was like riding a bicycle. Voila, my hands were doing it without my mind being in control. I was entranced. Since then I've adopted this as a preferred hobby! As to your treatment, well, I think the employees in these stores want only dedicated knitters as customers. They don't want a dilitant. While I'm not treated as a rapist and I have heard this probably thief experience from some of the guys I've taught, I do not find I'm actually accepted at most of these places. Horror of all, once I admit that i work for a living, the exclusion comes -- wherever i go Portland or OKC. How would I have to time to even be the least bit serious as a traveling computer consultant ? I've sort of decided after all these years, it's the people in yarn shops. They're looking for a different customer type than the hobbist. This last Saturday, support local biz day, I took my daughter to a LYS near my home. She loved the yarn BUT she was 'how can you stand to be around these people!' Lucky for her I teach her and her friends knitting and crochet. I personally have just decided I'm a threadhead and their model is their own.

D'marie said...

I understand how you feel, when i started to knit it was not cool, there was no stitch n bitch etc, I was tattooed pierced and at least 30 years younger than the youngest knitter. But i kept at it and like you when knitting exploded said see i told you soooooo....thanks for a great blog

Marizan said...

Franklin, I love your story! I went to a one of those "universities" and although I enjoyed it I wasn't the brain the other's were. I am trying to transition from consumer in the knitting world to making it a career. Mom taught me to crochet when I was 9 and I learned to knit when I was 25; haven't stopped since. I joke that I could eat, breathe and sleep knitting. I even researched if their was a PhD in knitting; there is it's a Technical Art History degree in conservation of Shetland Lace. I love your story and it reminds me of last month I taught a class and for the first time I taught a man to knit. It was so unusual that I was surprised but extremely pleased. Historically men did knit especially fishermen! BTW Holly@home was right you should write a book. I loved the article you wrote "Then Ten Knitters You Meet in Hell". I hope I take a class where you're the teacher one day!

Lyra500 said...

Someone linked your blog on a 'knitting' community post over at dreamwidth and love your story so I figure its only fair I share mine, especially as I hate yarn shops too. Part of that is to do with living in Scotland where there are generally two kinds of knitters: the crofting/islanders/myfamilyhavebeenknittingfor3000years knitters and the snooty, snobbish 'I knit because I don't have to work and I only ever use pure alpaca' sort of knitters. I am neither - I was taught the basics by my mum who was taught the basics by her grannie and left to work out the rest but never bothered. I on the other hand would love to be a bit more competent than knit/purl/cable and have never forgiven Mum for not learning Two Handed Fair Isle from her uni flatmate who was from Shetland! But I am fortunate enough to live within a reasonable distance of the greatest of British institutions - a John Lewis department store which has an amazing haberdashery department and can shop for yarn to my heart's content with relative anonymity.

andrea kiss said...

I just came to your blog for the first time after reading an article you wrote on Twist Collective.

I love your story about how you came to knit.

I am going to share your blog with my fiance, who just recently started to knit and is working on his first scarf. He is a bit annoyed with how people react to his new hobby. When we went to the yarn store to purchase some yarn a lady came up to me to ask some advice about yarn and needles because she wanted to learn to knit. When he mentioned that he was learning she laughed and laughed at him. It was very rude, i thought, and i was afraid it would discourage him. I now hope to run into her there again with him in tow, wearing his wonderful first scarf.

Neil Mudde said...

adversSo what is the update on the scarf, we could certainly use one these days!

SKE said...

Great story! What is it with women sometimes? We can do whatever men do and that's ok, but let men venture into "traditional" female territory and well, you know. My husband is a stay at home dad. I remember encouraging him to get out and meet some other parents, so one day he decided to take our toddler to an early years drop in centre. A hush fell over the room when he walked in and all the moms stopped what they were doing to stare at him. Then the whispers started. Needless to say, he made a hasty retreat and never went back.
By the way, I just found your blog from the Knitty - love the Faucett Scarf!

Don said...

So, I finally discovered your blog! Yeah, I'm slow like that . . .

I've experienced the discomfort that some yarn shop workers have with male knitters - add to that the stares when I go in on my way home from work and I'm still in uniform! (I'm in the Army). The best one was being told that it was so wonderful that 'You People' were allowed to be in the military now. I knew what she meant, but I highly dislike anyone referring to a particular group as 'you people' so I looked at her and said, "Who, knitters?" She looked shocked, then just walked away. Good riddance, and I never went back.

My Mother-in-law - with a Doctorate in Women's studies and 2 books on the roles of women in the workplace and the impact of women in the Labor Unions - told me that she believes it's resentment from the perception that 'here is ONE MORE THING that the nasty men are taking away from women', even though the opposite is actually true. Not that women are nasty and men aren't, but that women are constantly making inroads into traditionally 'male' career fields, and doing a bang-up job of it, too.

My current LYS was so different. I walked in after work, and before I got 3 steps in the door there was a great lady by my side wondering what kind of project I was looking for. Not my wife, ME. Yes, I go back often!

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knittingcurmudgeon said...

I'm a newcomer to your blog, but definitely won't be a stranger now that I've found you! Thankfully, things have changed a LOT since you wrote your story - for ex, every class I took in Salt Lake City, bastion of the very traditional LDS faith, had at least one man, and in a lace class, one guy who was on disability, supported himself and his non-knitting wife by making lace display things for a yarn manufacturer. If I could make lace like he does I'd be in Heaven.
Thanks for your humor - keep writing. You're one of those authors I use to keep depression at bay!

twelvetoes said...

Years after I taught myself to knit using the book "Knitting for Dummies," it was my brother-in-law who casually mentioned to me that the reason I couldn't ever, ever, ever have correct gauge was because I was knitting into the back of the loop.

Male knitters shouldn't have to slaughter the sheep for its wool in order to get the respect they deserve!

hipstamom said...

Great story! I just discovered your blog via Knitty.

I had a boyfriend who sucked the creativity out of me too! I stayed with him 4 years too long. *shudders*

I'm a new knitter and somehow knitting has made me less timid. Knitting in public somehow makes people real chatty with me. Of course crazy pick up lines like, "Where did you pick up that old world craft?" comes with the territory.

Wishing you all the best,
Ange

Hanna said...

Love your story and your blog!
I came to knitting after My ex (again...the less said the better) broke up with me christmas eve, then got back with me two days later just to dump me again New Year's (I swear it's true). I went to alocal craft shop, bought a skein of the cheapest yarn I could find, as well as a crochet hook and a book of basic instructions. Then I spent a week crocheting the word "Fuck". Since then I took up knitting as well, sewn the fuck on a hand-knitted pillow and gone on to more wholesome and positive projects. In fact, two more seams to connect until my current (very appreciative) boyfriend has his very own hoody!

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Anonymous said...

Live also in Chicago, and four years ago the city allowed yarn shops to use an empty storefront to teach anyone who wishes to knit, and so I learned. I have encountered NO suspicions whatever in yarn shops -- and in fact have spent many hours in Chicago shops talking and knitting (I only do lace at this point, haven't yet learned Fair Isle, my next step).

Sorry you have difficulty. Try Loopy Yarns, there were several men there at their "Knit Around the Clock" event.

Samantha Ussery said...

Hi Franklin,
My knitting group had an older gentleman in it. I always looked at him in awe for being brave enough to knit openly and found myself wishing more men did. The last time I saw him he was making a rainbow colored blanket for one of his daughters. It was gorgeous and I was quite envious of his daughter. :) If your are ever in NH we will greet you with open arms.

One of the reasons I love Lion Brand Yarn so much is that they encourage people of all genders and walks of life to knit or crochet. At their LBYS Yarn Studio in NY they even have a Men's night. Which I think is Fantastic. I keep hoping my husband Or son will find it interesting enough to take up the hobby but so far it doesn't seem likely.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Franklin-I found you on the Lion Brand site and really have been enjoying your wit and wisdom on knitting. My absolute favorite though is your flow chart ! I shared it with all my knitting friends and sadly, we all agreed we are not getting enough regular high quality sex from those we knit for. I have to work on that....ahhh perhaps a resolution for 2013?!?!
Thanks for the laughs!
Deb

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Fortunately in New York, men have a more pleasant experience in yarn shops. I thought Chicago would be better than that. So rest assured, any man pursuing a fibre craft of whatever sort is immediately suspect. Heh.

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Rae Smith said...

Speaking as a woman, I am thrilled whenever I see a man in a yarn shop, fabric store, or any other "traditionally female" enclave. Even if he is standing there with a label or a swatch given to him by his wife and looking for a match, his mere presence reaffirms to me that there may yet be hope for this world. I really enjoy talking to the gentlemen that find their way to the yarn spots.

Thank you Mr. Habit for your enjoyable blogs and the way you bring even the most tricky bits down to earth. I first dicovered you through the Lion Brand articles and have grinned and snickered and nodded my head in agreement ever since. Keep up the good work, sir!!!!
:)

Sandra said...

Franklin,

I love your story and know both the type of students you met in university and the Women's Union near Copley Square. I had the pleasure of attending secondary school with many of the same types of people and have never again managed to find a community quite like that.
I am taking your Craftsy course at the moment and I love you style. Never mind yarn shop owners, I have had some "interesting discussions" with women who saw a pregnant 20's ish women and insisted that I must want a super wash wool for baby clothes . . .

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My father-in-law was a knitter. He joined a knitting circle in a local yarn shop, the only man of course, and jet at it for, I think, 20 years. He only stopped when bladder cancer took his life. Those final years may have been his most prolific. He knitted furiously through chemo sessions and long periods watching football on TV, churning out hats, sweaters, and blankets that he gave to his ten grandchildren. My three daughters all have blankets on their beds that were made by him, and through these blankets they have a tangible reminder of his love.

Ann said...

Very funny piece! It reminds me of my own experience working in a yarn/fabric store in the UK! A young-ish guy came in to the fabric dept. accompanied by a young woman, both students in the Winchester College of Art!He announced loudly that he was going to design and make women's lingerie. He obviously felt that everyone was going to jump down his throat at the mere idea of a man designing women's underwear!
I wasn't quite sure how to react (my therapist self saw how insecure he felt about the whole idea. So insecure in fact that he had to throw his intentions loudly around the store, daring anyone to question his actions), so I just answered 'Oh OK, that's an interesting idea'.
He answered, in his now familiar 'throw it out as a dare attitude' "I know its not usual but I'm doing it anyway'.
'Good for you', I replied. 'Do you have any ideas for fabrics?'
...and there he stopped...
'Well, no actually...I mean I've never done it before...but I'm sure its easy...'(back to defiance).
I took him over to the rolls of fabic and he played wiht some, trying to figure what he actually wanted to do. He was looking more and more uncomfortable and sweating visibly now. I felt sorry for him so I suggested that he take 10cm samples of a few different fabrics so he could play with ideas.
His relief was palpable. Not only was I not judging him but I was helping him. His whole body relaxed and his defiant armour dissolved. God love him!
Now if he had come into the yarn dept. I would have had a field day! We obviously treat our male knitters very differently to those in the US! We love them! I don't work there any more as I now live in Egypt, but I have taught my Egyptian husband how to knit! The first thing he knit was a pair of knee warmers for his mother who has arthritis in her knees!!!

Cyndi Snyder said...

I've heard of you but must confess to not knowing much about you. I stumbled across your blog via Ravelry; what a great story about how you came to knit. Personally I love guys who knit, sew, and do all other types of fibery things and I thoroughly respect the male perspective. I hope to come to Southern California because I would love the opportunity to meet you and gush over you in person. :>

Sir Stitches said...

Franklin, I can completely identify with your early experiences in wool shops. It's unfortunate that at a point when your knitting identity of self-confidence is still very fragile, the staff in some of the more self-assumed "posh" knitting shops can make you feel about as welcome as a strain of listeria.

I also began my knitting life whilst living in Boston (Somerville, in fact) and I found it easier after a while to go to Windsor Button Company and browse their yarns since the place was only ever sparsely staffed and no one ever made me feel odd or self-conscious. A friend who was herself an avid crocheter took me out to Lexington to a shop by the ironic name "Woolly Bully". I felt like I had intruded on an exclusive coffee klatch (sp?) and that my being a man just made the elderly female staff more uncomfortable. I don't recall feeling welcome for even a moment.

I'm glad to say the ladies I knit with at my local wool shop are all very welcoming and most everyone treats me well. You'll get the usual "knit snobs" everywhere, and those are the sort of people I'd stay clear of at any rate, so I just don't let it get to me.

I came to knitting during chemotherapy, and it has been a great comfort to me and I can't EVER imagine my life without it.

Keep calling a spade a spade, and I wish everyone the very best. Happy Knitting!

Gejala Penyakit said...

Love your blog by the way - and it's great to read how other guys got started crocheting or knitting. Thanks for sharing your story!

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Anonymous said...

I cannot believe in the year 2000's men can be treated so cruel especially in a retail setting? Even in the Bible it was men who wove the fabrics used for the temple in Jerusalem. Everyone should be respected, no matter how much skill they show.

Hanna McDermott said...

I am happy that Michelle mentioned your knitting and your blog. Loved the story about your knitting beginnings. Will keep an eye on your schedule. Will definitely attend an event in the Wisconsin area. Too bad I just missed Madison.
Knit on,
Hanna
Michelle Thaller's Mom

Karen Talamantez said...

I'm so glad you stuck with it. Sorry about your bad experiences. Mister and I were recently in a yarn shop. Counter lady looked at mister. "Lovely sweater", the lady said, "did you make that?" Mister looked genuinely pleased at being asked. Because so many times it is "Did your wife make that?" In this case, his wife *did* make the sweater, but he was so thrilled that the woman didn't make assumptions (about either one of us.) The y
arn shop made a lot of money that day. It's amazing what acceptance can do for one's willingness to pay.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, a lot of yarn shops are pretty bad. Sorry you've had such appalling experiences. I shop online most of the time to avoid the salesclerks who are too busy eating to talk to me, the 20 year old patterns with dust, the suspicious looks, and the offers to teach me things I already know for mega-$$$$.

I always wonder if the suspicion comes about because I don't look rich enough to afford the merchandise. Maybe. I drive a normal car, have normal clothes and don't usually go out and spend hundreds of dollars without blinking an eyelash.

Anonymous said...

Love to hear other's knitting stories. Up here in New Hampshire, I started my third grade son knitting in his classroom for 'read aloud' time when he needed something to keep him still. None of the other kids batted an eye.
In the fourth grade classroom I work in, all the kids did a cross-stich project during a colonial unit...the boys were absolutely into it and never once questioned their participation. A couple of them just made Father's Day gifts for dear ol' dad on their own time - love it!
As we move forward with things like same-sex marriage (yey!) I'd like to believe that a man knitting will be less of a scandal! The times, they are a changin' .

Anonymous said...

Hey Franklin,

Loved your "How I Came to Knit".

I am still left with shaking my head in disbelief at "being treated like a rapist".

Here in Australia, we would have welcomed you in with a cup of tea and a scone and a million questions about your current project.

As a 44 year old woman, I am still viewed with a certain amount of curiosity as knitting is for "old people" even in the cities.
Wea re a small crowd us knitters, that share a camaraderie and passion for all things fibre/yarn related.

I learnt to knit as a child, but never completed a project beyond an acrylic scarf (which I never wore).
Then at the age of 36, after my last child was born, I found myself confined to bed when the little bundle of joy was only 3 weeks old (nasty mastitis).
Oh, the joy.
The yarn.
The needles.
The accessories.
The world of knitting became worldwide thanks to the inter web :)

I was buying yarn from Alaska to Iceland, another favourite is Gus at at swift river farm, which I think, is in your part of the world.

The friendships.
The companionship.

I became a bit of a celebrity when I joined local Spinners and Weavers, as I was usually the youngest member (most were in their 70's) and being a Lesbian.


The funny thing about knitters, in my experience anyway, is the common ground.
Thankfully there has been no bigotry or suspicion just a warm welcome into the fold.
Always with the question "what are you working on" ?

I am so sorry for your negative experiences, it would never have happened here.
You would have been a celebrity :)

Caroline
Australia