I have reached such a point. Like it or not, seems that I'll never be butch.
There have been quite a few articles in the mainstream press about men who knit. If you've read one, you've read them all. They all hit the same key points:
- Knitting is not just for grandmas any more! Men knit!
- But that doesn't mean they're gay!
- No, really! Lots of straight men knit!
- Knitting does not make you queer!
- See all the manly men knitting and drinking beer and not being queer?
- When men knit, knitting is very, very butch and not at all queer!
Even the manager of the shop was quoted reassuringly as saying that this was not a gay dating event.
I have never been to this particular knit night. Things may well be different in New York City than they are in Chicago, and perhaps at KnitNY the straights outnumber the gays, and the gays stick to their knitting and never flirt across their needles (yeah, right).
It may be that, in New York City, even the gay men who knit aren't, you know, queer.
But I can speak for myself, and when I knit, knitting is queer as a three-dollar bill. Even if I'm kitted out in my favorite cycle boots, chaps, a biker jacket, and three days of stubble, nothing's going to help.
My name is Franklin...and I like to knit lace.
Due to the bizarre American belief that the creation of anything delicate and beautiful is inherently sissified, an American male who knits lace automatically places himself at the Liberace/Rex Reed end of the Kinsey scale.
A man who is knitting scarves or sweaters or socks is on somewhat firmer ground. He is performing the very manly task of crafting protection from the elements. A hat, when you think about it, is just a roof you can wear on your head–and what could be more masculine than roofing?
There is no such excuse for lace. Lace has no practical purpose. A lace shawl will keep you warm to an extent, but the real purpose of lace is to be pretty. And American men are not supposed to make pretty things. Men are not supposed to even care about pretty, unless they're looking for female companionship.
So be it. I've never let other people dictate what I do in my life, and I'm not going to start now. And as for those men–gay or straight–who have to pound their chests while knitting lest other guys make fun of them?
The State of Maine Stole
About, oh, a month ago, reader OutfoxedKnitting asked whether the "State of Maine Shawl" listed in my projects was a pattern readily available. Well, sort of.
I'm making the shawl–which has become a stole, and will henceforth be referred to as such–for my sister. Susan lives in Maine, and her husband is in politics there. He is, in fact, a state senator. This means Susan has quite a few political outings to attend, and as Phil is about to go into re-election mode there will be even more such outings.
So here's my plan. I've decided she needs a nice wrap, preferably something that could be thrown over a day or evening outfit, that is Maine-related and might serve as a nice point of conversation. And if I can, I'd like to make it local fiber–maybe alpaca.
This is what I have in mind, and what I've been swatching.
All the patterns are Shetland, right out of Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting. And all of them have something to do (in my mind, anyhow) with the landscape of Maine.
For the ocean, there's Print o' the Wave. For the forests, there are patterns resembling fir cones and ferns. And for the edgings, I'm trying out different patterns that look like mountains. (Susan and Phil have spent many happy days climbing the mountains in Acadia National Park.)
I also want to work the word "Dirigo,"* the state motto, into each end of the stole. I nabbed that idea off a palatine in Galina Khmeleva's Gossamer Webs that has the word "Orenberg" knitted into one end.
Have I ever knitted words into lace? No. But Jean has done it, and I love how it looks, and perhaps if I ask very sweetly she will offer pointers.
Of course I'm awfully glad Phil's not in politics in our former home state, Hawaii, where the state motto is "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono." Maybe in another 30 years I might be up to that.
* Latin: "I lead."
** Hawaiian: "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."