The Manly Art of Knitting - Book

In 1972, when men were struggling to free themselves from the contraints of the Eisenhower 1950’s by wearing colourful clothes, jewelry and experimenting with pursuits formerly considered outside the realm of the real man, Dave Fougner found the time was right for bringing men knitters out of the closet and so he published his booklet “The Manly Art of Knitting”. .

From the forward: “There is definitely a dual purpose in the writing of this book. The first is to introduce knitting to those men who have an interest but are reluctant to try. Then too, it is hoped that the many men who now knit will become less reluctant to admit it.”

There are only 64 pages in his book but everything anyone needs to learn to knit is included between the covers. He discusses, without all the verbage and in simple language, the basics of needle size, cast-on, knit and purl stitches, as well as increases, decreases, binding-off, gauge and assembling. The drawings of how to do the techniques are so clear that even my knitting-challenged partner exclaimed, “Wow! I can figure that out!” The pattern stitches are garter, stockinette, purl, rib, moss, rice and basket weave. The best part is the projects chapter: a dog blanket, a beanie, a wall hanging (for your horse’s best-in-show award), a saddle blanket for your horse (knitted circularly with sharpened garden hose and “jumbo” yarn), a slipover (jumper) and a rope hammock (knitted with either shovel handles or pool cues with manila rope). There is then a section on problems. I learned here how to pick up dropped stitches with the end of a knitting needle and a toothpick instead of a crochet hook!

I had seen the cover (in itself worth the price of the book!) before but hadn’t known anything about the book until reading about it in “Men With Balls”. A close-up photo of the cowboy is attached. The imagine runs wild wondering just what the cowpoke is knitting... I found a copy and paid an exorbitant price but I didn’t mind as I love quality vintage knitting items which are male-related. Dave’s book is really quite a gem of men’s knitting memorabilia.

As might be surmised from the title, Dave was concerned that he and his hobby wouldn’t be seen as less-than-manly (read faggy) and so he over-empasised the butch side of knitting (not unlike the strategy of Rosy Greer in his needlepoint for men book). I’ve included a photo of the frontpiece which I call “Male Knitter Power!" From the back cover: “Only a man would knit a hammock with shovel handles for needles and manila rope for yarn.”

No doubt.

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YarnGuy716's picture

The book was the inspiration for my knitting Live Journal, which I call "The Manly Art of Knitting." I've only seen the book in the public library. It was something I had to request from the archives, as it was not kept on the open shelves.

While I did love the concept, I was disappointed in the content. But given the mindset of the times, I guess I was expecting too much of it.

I did find the garden hose circular needle to be pretty amusing. I basically described the book as a yippie-kiy-yah cowboy take on knitting. It seemed to be trying too hard to prove that "real men do knit."

It is a fun piece of memorabilia. Tho I think the MWK guys should get together to produce "the Manly Art of Knitting In The 21st Century!"

grandcarriage's picture

I remember having a copy of this, received as a gift many years ago, I think I was in college. I wonder where it disappeared to? Probably hiding with my favorite old patterns and the 1950 sweater magazines I rescued from a garbage bin....

MMario's picture

yeah - I remember when the book came out. It was trying too hard; way too hard.

MMario - I don't live in the 21st Century - but I sometimes play a character who does.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

RainCityRick's picture

Well Gents, you should find those copies of the book. They are currently selling on for $67.95 USD!

Happy Hunting!


Thought that was an out-take from 'Brokeback Mountain'.

Frank's picture

I love YarnGuy716's idea on the MWK "Manly Art of Knitting in the 21st Century"

purlyman's picture

I found that the Denver Public Library has a copy of this. There are about 45 libraries in the U.S. and Canada with it too... from California, Arizona, Oregon and Montana to Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Florida! Also in Alberta and Vancouver. I'm going to borrow the DPL copy!


Bought the book in the late 70's. Didn't realize it was so valuable. When I was teaching I ran MAK clubs for the males, who wanted to learn to knit. The book motivated me to come out of the closet regarding my knitting. Began to carry my knitting in my briefcase everywhere I went and work on it all of the time. Does anyone know if Dave is still living?

gre8dean's picture

I wear a tee shirt that says: "Man enough to knit. Strong enough to purl." That says it all. I found a site that sells tees with all kinds of knitting and crochet printed on them.

I wear a tee shirt that says: "Man enough to knit. Strong enough to purl." That says it all.