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Some Quick Knits and Knitting Patterns for Men


Let's take a little look at men's relationship with knitting over time....


Knitting is often thought of as a 'female' occupation or hobby, but this is a relatively new construct. Did you know that actually it was men who were the original pioneer knitters? Yeah really! They were the first ones to use knitting techniques.

Knitting is thought to have originated in Egypt in about 1000AD and is believed to have been derived from the fishing technique of 'knotting' fishing nets to carry more fish. The craft then migrated to Europe during the Crusades (and yes it's really that old!)

Once in Europe knitting evolved as a hobby for the wealthier in society but became more accessible to everyone as the novelty wore off and as garments such as knitted stockings became fashionable. As these garments became more popular there opened up the opportunity for commercialisation and 'Knitting Guilds' were created exclusively by men for men. These guild members were specialists in knitting and run by businessmen who controlled quality, quantity and the price of knitted goods. They were basically a union and there were knitting apprenticeships aimed at boys who could take up to 6 years to qualify in their profession! And the main consumer of their products were also men so marketing was targeted at them. How things have changed! Guilds still exist obviously, as there are many local spinning and fibre guilds around but now they are mainly populated by women.


But back to men and knitting. During the two great World Wars boys started to knit for the troops at war when they were in school. Handmade garments such as socks, mittens and helmet liners were sent to soldiers on the front line as both a practical and thoughtful gift to remind them of home. Soldiers are also credited with creating the 'Kitchener Stitch', (you know that stitch that some of us love to hate) which is the best way to sew up the toe of a sock without seeming it. This was born out of necessity as the seems could rub and make wearing socks uncomfortable in army issue boots.

Once again a far cry from todays portrayal of this being a female dominated hobby!


But modern perceptions and marketing is now definitely targeted at females who have taken knitting to their hearts and as many of the best designers are now female they predominantly design patterns for the female form.


However recently there has been a bit of resurgence in men's knitting with several high profile knitters such as the diver Tom Daley and actor Ryan Reynolds all publicly talking about their knitting and yarn.


Let's talk to one of the new breed of male knitters.


Anton Belmonte is the owner of the Raw Wool Company www.rawwoolcomoany.com which is a luxury yarn brand which makes yarns from Cornish fleeces in the colours that the sheep intended.


Anton tell us about why you knit....

"For many years knitting for me has been labelled as a “grannies hobby”. There seemed to be some shame associated with being a "male knitter”. I am glad to say we are starting to shrug off that stereo type and looking at todays knitting community, knitters come in all forms of gender, non-binary, and shapes and sizes. In fact the knitting community is looking like a pretty inclusive and positive place to belong to!

Looking back in history it surprises me how the stereotype of 'nanny knitters' came about and the “male knitter” became such a taboo. From the Cornish fisherman, soldiers in the trenches to farmers sat on the top of 5m high stilts in fields n the1800’s; men have been knitting for a long long time.

Like many I was taught by my grandmother to knit when I was 8 or 9 years old. I was the only male grandchild of my four cousins and siblings, and out of all of us I was the one who took to it like a duck to water. Of course growing up on a sheep farm meant that I took a keen interest in wool but being creative person, knitting was something I enjoyed very much. My first 'creation' was a scarf for my big teddy (I was probably a little too old to still love that big ted the way I did). Through my teenage years I felt awkward about being a male knitter and stopped altogether. It wasn’t until I was at university in Cornwall that I really started knitting again. Inspired by seeing a fisherman sat in Falmouth harbour knitting himself a hat I promptly asked my mother to spin me some yarn from our flock of Wensleydale’s and I made myself a hat. A decade later and it is very rare to see me without a project in my hand (as well as 5 others on the go). I knit after surfing to warm my hands, evenings in front of the fire, sat in the fields overlooking the sea on a dog walk, I feel safe knowing my knitting is within arms reach. As well as selling my own yarns with the Raw Wool Company, writing my own knitting patterns as a designer, I am now working with local farmers such as @stevethesaultyshepherd to help them produce their own yarn. I believe in giving knitters the assurance of 100% single origin fibre produced locally and as sustainable as possible.

Covid19 and lockdowns encouraged many of us to pick up our needles and we realised that it benefits mental health as well as being a great skill to have. I am so pleased to see so many male knitters and those of a younger generation turning their hands to the life of slow fashion with such positivity. Even today as I sit in a café writing this I have my knitting sat next to me, people asking me what I am making and “It is so nice to see a man knitting, my son has started”. It is comments such as these that bring a big smile to my face and a sigh of relief that stereotypes and taboos seem to be dissolving. Those lady knitters are the Jedi masters of the knitting world but knitting is and always has been for everyone."


Men as designers and on social media


Now that male knitting has once again become fashionable there has been some great male influencers and designers who are knitting and designing patterns very much aimed at the modern man. In fact they are some of the best and well known designers in the world.


Here are just a few:


There is Stephen West who is not only a designer of colourful and iconic fashion items, he is also a fantastic educator and has created a massive 'cult' following eager for his annual 'Shawlography' release every autumn which is now a massive phenomenon in the knitting calendar. See his designs here http://www.ravelry.com/designers/stephen-west


Arne and Carlos have published 9 knitting pattern books and are internationally recognised for their colourwork and designs influenced by their home in rural Norway. www.arnecarlos.com


Maxim Cyr has emerged as a frontrunner in the design stakes. He creates contemporary unisex designs aimed at men and women in modern colours and yarns. https://www.ravelry.com/stores/maxim-cyr


Brendan Girak is an Australian knitwear designer who has inspired many people to knit https://www.knitwitsandyarns.cs/


As for influencers check out:



So keen to get knitting? Here are some great pattern suggestions for the modern male knitter with some of our favourite yarn recommendations.


Our favourite scarf patterns for men:

From left to right:

View 1. The Dunaway Scarf -


Some 4ply yarn recommendations:

From left to right:




Worsted weight yarn Recommendation:





Some DK yarn recommendations:

From left to right:

 

Our Favourite Hat Patterns for men:


View from left to right


Some 4ply Yarn Recommendations:

From left to right:




Some Chunky/Bulky Yarn Recommendations:

From left to right:




Some Worsted Yarn Recommendation:

 

Our favourite Sweater patterns for men:

Viewed from left to right


Worsted weight yarn Recommendation:

From left to right:




Some DK Yarn Recommendations:

From left to right:



Some DK Yarn Recommendations:


From left to right:



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