This day and age knitting has a definite gender bent. We tend to think of it as a “granny” hobby done only by little old ladies rocking in wooden chairs. Maybe we think of young pregnant women waiting for the little bundle of joy to arrive. We never even consider a man to be a likely candidate to pick up knitting needles. Yet, this is by its very nature a sexist attitude. Could it be that as a society we’ve decided what a grown man can or cannot to just because we think it’s too feminine?
1.) Men deserve to relax too!
The truth is knitting is not just a pastime you engage in to simply throw together a pair of mittens. Let’s face it: buying them is quicker, easier, and cheaper! Knitting is not as much about the final product as it is about the process. It is almost meditative, a soothing, repetitive motion that has a similar effect on a person as the gentle rocking motion of a swing has on a small infant. The “click, click” sound the needles make are reminiscent of rain pattering on the roof at night. The whole experience makes a person feel cozy and relaxed.
2.) Creativity is NOT limited to women.
Men typically have a very good spatial sense. That stands them in good stead with this type of hobby. Like chess, certain knitting patterns require thinking rows ahead. Obviously, women can do this and have been for generations. Men can do it, too. It’s possible that because men often think in a logical and linear fashion, some of these knitting patterns may actually make more sense to them than to women. Now, don’t misunderstand, that doesn’t mean men are necessarily better than women at this, just that they may have an advantage that makes knitting just as likely a hobby for men as it is for women.
3.) Men actually started this whole knitting thing to begin with.
It’s really true! In the 1500’s it was men who handled the knitting and the passing on of the tradition. There were rigorous tests and requirements for young men hoping to knit for a living. They had to be able to make several different types of articles at a high rate of speed with a certain level of quality before they were allowed to be considered knitting masters. The only reason that knitting ceased to be a tradition taught and apprenticed in such a manner was because a man invented the knitting machine in the late 1500’s. It took a while, but once the machines caught on and clothes were made more easily, faster, and cheaper, hand-knitting became more of a tradition or hobby than a necessity. It then was passed to the women who began to use knitting as a way to train for manual dexterity and industry, a classic way to not be idle.
4.) Constructive idleness can be a great alternative to simply “vegging out”.
A person can be knitting and still be resting. If you are watching a movie or television you can still be working on a project and take advantage of that otherwise idle time. When one stops to consider the tremendous amount of time our society spends doing nothing more than watching television it’s actually quite staggering. You could convert that time into something useful like a garment, rug, dishcloth or some other item. There are organizations that like to have hand-knit items for the people they are helping. One good example is the cancer support groups that help provide hats for chemotherapy patients. If you could master a simple hat pattern, you could learn to practically do it in your sleep and provide something useful and beautiful for someone in need. (See “Handcrafting to Support Charities“)
5.) Delayed gratification and patience are stretched and strengthened with knitting.
Chances are it will take several days working consistently to produce a project, and “several days” would actually only apply to a small project. A larger project, say a sweater for example, may actually take weeks or months. Knitting is not something you do to get quick results. It’s something done with the idea of creating something beautiful to keep for a long time, a treasure. Some people like gifts, some people like quality time, some people like someone to do things for them. Knitting does all three.
The fact is, these are all good reasons to knit for both men and women. It’s a nice idea that a man can put off that normal societal pressure and take up such a useful, relaxing hobby as knitting. Women never abandoned the craft even though it really is so much easier to buy garments already made. Maybe there is simply a part of us that needs to keep that tradition, that love of something personally made. Knitting can certainly help fulfill a need in us to keep connected and do things that are special and unique for one another. Embracing the fine art of knitting is to embrace a classic piece of our heritage, and one that is worthy of our attention and dedication. Maybe it is time for women AND men to begin to knit.