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We know how empowering it is to enable others - to start their own creative projects and tell their own stories. That’s why we’ve decided to share our customers’ stories* to highlight their aspirations and challenges and share that wonderful sense of accomplishment you get from learning something new. At Stitch & Story we want to share our love of crafting – encouraging others to tell their own stories and create remarkable memories.
How/when/why did you learn to knit and/or crochet?
I was first taught to knit by my maternal grandmother at the age of about 8 or 9 on one of her visits to England. She was a fantastic knitter and I remember her watching television while she knitted, only looking down when she had finished a row. She taught me how to knit and purl and I would pass my knitting back to her to correct when I dropped a stitch or when everything became too tight. She lived in Trinidad so when she went back home there was no one to guide me, and the short-lived hobby wore off. Fast forward to my early 50s and I felt that I needed to do something creative and physically make something in my spare time to combat restlessness with my office work. One weekend in 2018, I saw Jen and Jen feature on a BBC4 programme about crafting and after some googling I signed up to one of their beginner classes. I became hooked almost immediately and have been a committed knitter for exactly 1 year now.
Despite knitting having historically been a male occupation, why do you think male knitters/crocheters are underrepresented nowadays?
Certainly day-to-day, you seldom see men knitting but I'm not sure that male knitters are perhaps underrepresented that much. If you do a quick search on Instagram with the hashtags #menwhoknit and #guyswhoknit there are an incredible number of men out there doing some amazing work with needles and crochet hooks. I'm astounded by the quality and breadth of the yarn work I see done by men online all over the world and it inspires me to push myself to learn more techniques.
What do you feel companies like Stitch & Story could do to make men feel more welcome in the crafting community?
Many of the bigger knitting companies do seem to lean more towards a female clientele. Having more masculine items to knit would help, say chunkier, less feminine scarves, beanies (slouchy or otherwise) rather than pompom hats, sleeveless pullovers, knitted hoodies, etc. Even using more male models on the websites would help and male knitters teaching at beginner classes could perhaps encourage more men to take up the craft.
What advice would you give to men that are interested in knitting and/or crochet?
Just do it! Honestly, as simple as that. It's the best thing I have done and I adore knitting; barely a day goes by without me picking up my needles at some point. And if guys are a bit embarrassed at the prospect of knitting, thinking it might be a bit too girly, I can tell you that women LOVE men who knit. Some will literally squeal with delight and bombard you with questions and they will eventually ask you to knit them something. I've yet to tell anyone, male or female, that I'm a knitter and experience a negative or mocking reaction from them.
What has been the most important thing you’ve taken from learning to knit and/or crochet that you would like to pass on to others?
The biggest surprise for me has been how beneficial knitting has been for my mental health. I have found knitting to be an excellent antidote to the stresses of work and I would urge anyone who finds themselves having to deal with anxiety, stress, worry or depression to pick up some 10mm needles and start knitting. It's a creative process but not one that requires your brain to come up with the effort of original ideas - unless you want to, of course. You have a set of very specific instructions to follow and the focus this provides allows troublesome thoughts to recede for a while. There is something very stimulating yet reassuring about making an item with your own hands, using techniques that are centuries old, with no reliance on modern technology or gadgetry. Knitting has been an enormous help to me in the past 12 months during those periods when life throws curveballs your way.
What has been your best knitting and/or crochet memory, or favourite thing you’ve made?
I've knit an enormous number of things in the last 12 months. The one drawback of this hobby is that you end up with loads of STUFF! By the autumn, I had a drawer full of hats, scarves, fingerless mittens, slumber socks and cable headbands. However, it does mean that come Christmas, all your gifting dilemmas are sorted and people love to receive something truly personal and handmade.
My proudest knitting moment was when I was asked to knit some basic men’s tunics and hats for a new opera production earlier this year. It was amazing to see the items I had knitted worn by professional actors on stage.
Do you have a favourite Stitch & Story kit?
That’s a difficult question as there are so many great kits to help you begin your knitting journey. I love the Drop Lay Scarf as it requires both knitting skills and manual picking and unpicking to achieve its unusual look. Also the Staman Stitch Cushion Cover gets a lot of comments, as it looks so different (but is simple to knit).
* If you would like to be featured as part of our crafters' stories please contact us at email@example.com