Men With Sticks

Columbia University Undergrads knitting (1930s)
My Dad seemed a little offended at yesterday's suggestion that he may not be interested in picking up the latest issue of Interweave Knits and for the record, an accusation which is not based on gender at all since I know and appreciate many male knitters out there. But fair dues - after all, it's never too late to pick up a new hobby and as I left off in yesterday's post, I could sure use an extra set of needles in action around here.

So to make amends and perhaps offer some inspiration to my favourite retiree, here is an historic tribute to 'Men With Sticks' courtesy of MenKnit.net (please visit the site for the full article plus plenty more). I have a set of circular 4mm and a skein of Estelle Young Touch waiting for volunteers of any gender. After all, I hear Brad Pitt and Sean Connery are doing it. : )


There is a great history of men who knit. In fact most historians agree that knitting probably began with men. The thinking goes that knitting grew out of the knitting of fishing nets.

According to The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery by Mildred Graves Ryan, most historians agree that knitting was probably spread by Arabian sailors and merchants who traveled throughout the Mediterranean. These were most likely male sailors. In fact there are a number of knit patterns that date back to these Arabian forebears.

According to Wikipedia, the online dictionary:

"Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. Knitting became a household occupation with the growing popularity of knitted stockings and by the end of the 1600s, one to two million pairs of stockings were exported from Britain to other parts of Europe."

An excellent book on the history of handknitting was written by Richard Rutt who was the Bishop of Leicester. His book, A History of Hand Knitting was reissued in 2003. Rutt learned to knit from his grandfather, who had learned to knit as a boy in the 1800s.

There is also the history of men knitting during World War II. There is a marvelous article titled "When Knitting Was A Manly Art" at the Christian Science Monitor about it. Men who came back from the war took part in an active drive to knit clothing for the war effort. The story is beautifully written and gives some first hand accounts of this chapter in history.

Horst Schultz learned knit as a child in a Danish refugee camp after World War II. In Berlin he taught knitting classes and perfected a new form of knitting in modules. Schultz is credited as the inventor of "modular knitting."

Of course the knitting traditions of many non-Western societies include males in knitting culture. The idea of it being limited to one sex is ridiculous in these societies.

Courtesy of Menknit.net. .

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