I decided to make a personal stand against the feminization of the American male and take up the manliest hobby I could find – knitting. Knitting has everything a man could want. It requires math, engineering and construction, and encourages locker room talk and spitting. The only missing element is beer.
So, imagine my shock to find I was the only male taking the Beginners Knitting course at Chix with Stix. Our teacher, Sue, let us choose balls of bulky yarn and I went with a real guy color – brown. For tools, we got to use big, thick, pointy needles.
Sue taught us to fasten the yarn to the needle with slipknots – the same knot burly sailors use to tie up boats. Then she showed us how to knit. We were knitting scarves and mine quickly developed a see-through quality. Resorting to a Swedish swear word to describe my dropped stitches, Sue declared that my scarf was kerfuffled.
While Sue fixed my mistakes, we discussed our motives for joining the class. Karen needed a pastime for her son’s wrestling matches. Tracy is moving to Greece, where knitting is part of what women do. I was knitting the scarf for 6-month-old Levi and hoped it would be ready for his 10th birthday.
The 90 minutes flew by while I finished about five rows. I continued working at home and, like many he-men, knitted during the Super Bowl. Struggling with technique, I asked my wife if she knew how to knit. It turned out she was taught at a young age by a grandma from Holland. She took the needles and expertly started knitting. I couldn’t believe it. We’ve been married 30 years and she finally reveals this secret. Think of how many sweaters I could have had.
At our next class, Karen and Tracy displayed their finished scarves and sought new knitting challenges. Right before my eyes, they turned into yarn ho’s buying up yards and yards of yarn to knit baby blankets. Meanwhile, Sue taught us how to join one ball of yarn to the next, using the “spit and splice” method.
Now that we got to spit on the yarn, knitting was truly getting down and dirty. Sue’s locker room talk flowed, as she described a national organization of knitting groups called Stitch ‘N’ Bitch. I also learned some knitting history, swelling with masculine pride when I heard that Attila and his fellow Huns knit saddle blankets. The female Huns saw how much fun the boys were having and grabbed the needles for themselves.
Since then, men have been slow to reclaim knitting. Only 5 to10 percent of Chix with Stix customers are male. To remedy this, the shop will launch its beginner class for men on March 16. The cost will be $45 and, yes, there will be beer.