I’ve written about the mental health benefits of knitting a few times, and I just saw this CBS Early Show report listing even more reasons to knit or crochet – including a 30 to 50 percent decrease in memory loss for aging people, stress relief, pain reduction, lower blood pressure, and a boost in immune function.
The report got me thinking, why don’t more men knit? After all, knitting was once a male-dominated occupation. During the Renaissance, only men were allowed to join knitting guilds. Later Scottish sailors and sheepherders used downtime to knit sweaters. And even after women took over the craft, during the World Wars, injured soldiers were encouraged to knit as therapy, and American schoolboys were taught to knit squares to be sewn into blankets for troops.
I don’t know a lot of male knitters, but I was excited to find that there are still some dedicated ones out there. At an online forum called Men Who Knit, male needle-clickers with aliases like Kilthoser and Spicemanknit share Medieval cap patterns and pictures of afghans. And a few years ago, some male knitters announced their favorite hobby to the world in a documentary called Real Men Knit:
As it turns out, even Mo Rocca’s hooked on knitting…
I asked my husband if he would consider taking up a yarn craft. He disappeared into the office and called me in a few minutes later to see the knitted beards I linked to last Friday. “I might think about making one of these,” he said, as he searched for a free pattern.
[Image: Cover of eight-page booklet, published by Wm. Briggs & Co Ltd of Manchester during World War II to encourage injured soldiers to take up knitting as therapy. Page two says, "Thousands of our men who are convalescing and very many who feel the strain of these trying days, are being advised by their doctors that knitting is the perfect tonic for steadying the nerves."]
More on male knitters in history:
- Top 10 Men of Knitting by Ann Richards, Knitty
- Soldiers Knitting 1918 and Soldiers Knitting Part II, craftivism.com
- When Knitting Was a Manly Art by Clinton Trowbridge, Christian Science Monitor
Why do you think more men don’t knit or crochet? Are you a male knitter, or do you know one? I’d love to hear from you.