WWW: Men Who Knit; Guerilla Knitting Calendar, Olympic Mittens?

A woman writes into a local newspaper advice column, claiming her husband’s knitting is out of control.

The latter makes me want to leap in and help, but not for the reason that the writer intends, I think… he makes the items too big “to allow for shrinkage”? The knitter in question needs a helping hand to wrap his head around gauge and fabric and yarn.

The advice columnist brings up a good point about the etiquette of gift-giving… There’s a lesson in there for all of us – only knit for those you know will truly appreciate the gift.

Image courtesy the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.

Interesting discussion alert: The Huffington Post “blows open a secret” we all know… that this whole knitting thing, although in the last century has come to be considered to be a feminine craft, it actually used to be a men’s activity. I’ve got mixed feelings about this, I must say… I love to see discussion of knitting in the mainstream press, and this is a change from the usual “it’s not just grandmas” piece. But the gender issue is a thorny one: I know lots of male knitters who are happy to knit because they love it, gender perceptions aside. By reminding us that men were at the forefront of the development of knitting, is the message (intended or not) that it’s actually ok for men to knit now because they used to do it? And if so, why does that matter, still? Or perhaps we should be asking about why it’s believed that men were at the forefront of the development of knitting…? Is it, like many historical situations, something where women’s participation and roles weren’t documented? Maybe men didn’t develop knitting at all… ?

Fishing! Amazing work.

A knitting group from Yorkshire, UK, has released a “guerilla knitting calendar” for 2014. The Saltburn Yarn Stormers are responsible for some of the most spectacular yarnbombing we’ve seen: they did the Olympic-themed installation on their local pier, and a more recent seaside-theme one. The calendar features pictures of their work.

A handknit version would be even better…

Speaking of Olympics… Canadian department store Hudson’s Bay Corporation has unveiled the latest “Olympic mitten” design. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the mittens goes to the Canadian Olympic Foundation, and this new design has been launched ahead of the 2014 Sochi games. These limited edition mittens have become quite the thing: the first design was launched in 2009, to celebrate the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and was a runaway success, with with more 3.5 million pairs sold. Wouldn’t it be cool if they also released a knitting pattern, with proceeds of that going to the foundation? Does anyone know anyone who works for HBC? Perhaps we can talk them into it!

The Campaign for Wool in the UK is planning a yarnbombing as part of the upcoming Wool Week activities, this October. The plan is to take over a window of the John Lewis shop on Oxford Street, in London. If you’d like to participate or contribute, please contact Allison Thistlewood at allison at champagneandqiviut dot com. More info about Wool Week here.

Celebrity knitter alert: Sharon Osbourne is apparently knitting a bonnet and booties for Simon Cowell’s baby-on-the-way.

You might recognize a couple of the instructor names for Vogue Knitting Live event in New York this coming January

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5 thoughts on “WWW: Men Who Knit; Guerilla Knitting Calendar, Olympic Mittens?

  1. Saffron shipper

    My husband is a fabulous knitter who taught himself on a dare many years ago before you tube videos. He made the bigger on the inside” shawl for our daughter and zillions of hats & scarves. 150 years ago he’d be the guy on the fishing boat making knotted(macramé) rope belts & ganseys. He loves to knit in public at coffee shops and always gets comments.

  2. Kate

    Um . . . hate to tell you, but that whole Huffington Post article is pretty much b.s.

    The whole knotting nets to knitting theory has been pretty solidly disproven. The techniques of knotting nets is very different from the act of knitting. Not only that is how recently knitting was developed. In Knitty’s own article about the history of knitting “History 101” by Julie Theaker, for example, it is pointed out that while there are weaving goddesses, there are no knitting goddesses. The Greeks have Arachne (not a goddess, but a well known mythological figure), for example. I find it hard to believe that the Greeks had fishing nets hanging around for hundreds of years, but never developed knitting, if the whole nets to knitting theory is true.

    Second of all, there were indeed medieval knitting guilds run by men, but these were professional knitters. Many home knitters, knitting to clothe their families, were almost certainly women. This is like comparing professional cooking, which I understand is dominated by men, to home cooking, which is still done mostly by women. In addition, just because men ran knitting guilds in the medieval era does not mean that men invented knitting. It is perfectly possible that women invented knitting.

    Finally, the Huffington Post article cited twice as part of their research for the article a totally non-academic charity website with a very short and also highly inaccurate history of knitting. This charity website seems to labor under the impression that nalbinding is a form of knitting.

    Rather than debating over if and why the sex of the person who invented knitting matters (which is important) I feel that we should be getting an accurate history of knitting out there and protesting those authors and article who present a false history. The post on Knitty’s blog a few days earlier about a book of stories on knitting and literature also led to a ridiculously inaccurate piece whose author “supposed” that knitting predated weaving.

    This is absolutely and completely not true! ANY amount of research would have told her this. I feel it is disrespectful to us that authors seem to think it is okay to do no research on knitting (because there wouldn’t be anything for them to find, would there? I mean, who would do academic research or write serious articles about knitting?), and to make things up completely out of whole cloth and their own imagination and their seriously pathetic knowledge about crafts! As a commenter on Ravelry posted in response to that article: “Author: Looms are bulky and knitting is small and portable. Knitting must have come first.” “Raveler: Hello, what about the Bedouins or the many other nomadic cultures who also weave? Enormous wooden looms aren’t necessary for weaving.”

    I don’t expect that the author of a short entertainment piece to be trawling museums for hours, but I really think she could have done better than browsing the internet for research and using totally non-academic websites. I think knitting deserves more respect than that. Imagine the outrage if someone said baseball was invented by hunting woolly mamoths and bringing them down by throwing rocks at them. I bet there would be a lot of outrage and upset baseball players and fans.

  3. Kate

    I meant to write in my earlier post that it is important to consider why it matters so much to people who invented knitting. Not that the sex of the person who invented it matters.

  4. EstherGrace

    I’d love to get my hands on that calendar of yarn bombed scenes! Would be great if we could do one on this side of the Atlantic! I just love the ingenuity of it, just love it totally. Hooray!!

    and as for inadequate research – All you really have to do if you want to know something is ask grandmothers and mothers. We can give you information but they don’t usually use us. So what can you expect?

    I look forward to reading you each week. It’s marvelous. Keep it up! Thank YOU!

  5. florapie

    The calendars are so much fun! But do we really need an “official” pattern for how to knit mittens with a black cuff, red hand and white fingertips? The CAN part is machine embroidered on, not knit. Of course, if an actual knitter had designed them, they wouldn’t have white fingertips as they’re completely impractical.

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