Male knitting fans stitch together yarn and respect

By on November 8th, 2012

Martin Smith knits at Yarnworks on Thursday morning.

Martin Smith stitched two, then purled two, to continue building a ribbed scarf, a new recipe in his knitting cookbook, Thursday morning at Yarnworks, a knitting store in Gainesville.

Smith educated himself to knit through books he bought on Amazon. Now, he can sit on the couch when he has the time and start a new project.

“It’s very relaxing,” he said. “It’s very practical sitting on my couch at home watching television. While I’m watching TV or listening to music I can also be making a dish rag for my kitchen or a Christmas present.”

The Knitting Guild Association, a national organization that holds conferences and meetings about knitting, said only about 1 percent of its current members are men like Smith, according to a press release.

Gregg Henderschiedt, a senior assistant director of career development at the University of Florida Career Resource Center, also knits as a hobby. He said that as a man, he sometimes gets head turns when he knits in public.

“I have knitted in public a couple of times and that usually gets a lot of second stares,” he said. “People are quite curious about what I’m doing but I find that it seems, especially older women, people love it and they ask me ‘What are you working on?’ or say ‘That’s great.'”

Henderschiedt said people find it unusual yet cool.

He found his knack for knitting when he ordered some books that came with needles and some thread. When he continued to make mistakes, he eventually took a class in Gainesville about knitting and said the class helped him to improve his craft.

“It was really a lot of fun,” he said.

Barbara Zory, the owner of Yarnworks estimates that only 10 percent of her customers are male. She said the different between older men and younger men is that younger knitters try to make it a competition.

Most of the male shoppers do not draw attention to themselves when they enter the shop, she said. And many people have the misconception that it is a women’s activity.

“A lot of guys think that it’s just too feminine, which is stupid because a lot of men do quite well with it,” she said.

Smith and Henderschiedt said they intend to keep up with knitting and want to try more difficult projects in the future.

Kelsey Meany wrote this story for online.

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