Well, actually the trailer for the DVD.

Check it out here:

It's all very exciting.  Some of our regulars, including Bill and Jeremy (Technocowboy), are featured in the trailer along with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  I'm anxious to see if hmalbert's "antics" with a knitting needle made it through the editing process...two words: body piercing (he put it where?!) may have been too graphic for middle America, but I've got my fingers crossed.

It should be out at the end of August and will come with wool from Philosopher's Wool for knitting a cap.

vt_shua's picture

Perhaps I'm arguing semantics - but what is a "real" man? And what distinguishes them from what I assume are "faux" men?

I felt a tad uncomfortable with the tone this trailer struck - the reverance of the "hyper-masculine" (football) with the plea to reclaim knitting as the "manly art it once was." So where does this leave women who have assimilated knitting into their own culture? Should they now view knitting as historically rooted in patriarchy, and give it its credit, rather than look at how they have subverted it over years of "domestic arts?"

To me, this trailer's bias seemed based in some sort of rejection of a "feminine" principle (socially constructed as that principle may be). Can I be a "real man" - even if I'm Queer and haven't reproduced, and even if I hate football? Granted - I'm deconstructing a two minute trailer - and I do understand the point that's being made - but watching this trailer, I felt aliented. Or maybe I'm just being touchy?

JPaul's picture

Shua asked, "Can I be a "real man" - even if I'm Queer and haven't reproduced, and even if I hate football?"

The answer, of course, is "No, you big fairy."

I'M JUST KIDDING!  (But if we still need to ask the question, rhetorical or not, then that's significant.  There is still a good sized chunk of the general population who WOULD answer your question with a resounding "No" and who DO believe that men who knit are less than "real" men.)

I'm curious though, Shua, why you felt alienated and why you thought hyper-masculinity was being "revered" in the trailer?  The trailer starts off, "We're all pretty familiar with the traditional activities associated with (pause) "real" men."  (That pause, at least to me, is  the non-visual equivalent of making little quotation marks  in the air with your fingers).  Football IS an activity traditionally thought of as masculine, even hyper-masculine.  Ask 100 people to name a "masculine" activity and you'll hear football more often than knitting.  I didn't find the reference particularly reverant.  It just makes a point (granted, a tired and feeble point) but, like Lars implied, it's a point that people understand: Football = masculine.  And it's there for contrast...these traditionally masculine activities contrasted with Eugene Bourgeois quietly sitting on his porch knitting and Kaffe Fassett's poetic hand gestures as he talks about knitting a wonderful sweater...It works.  If you're trying to convince the Hooter's crowd* that it's okay for them to knit, you can't just spring Kaffe Fassett on them.  You've got to talk there language.  (It's not saying that your not masculine if you don't like football.  Maybe (I don't know, because I haven't seen the video), maybe it's saying the definition is broader than that.  In fact, maybe it's saying the "real men" are the ones who aren't afraid to step outside some narrow societal strictures that say they must love football and aren't allowed to knit.  The trailer even goes on to talk about breaking gender rules.  It's not Real vs. Faux, it's REALity vs. Perception.   (*Hooters is the US based restaurant chain famous for it's big breasted waitresses who wear tight tank tops and serve up chicken wings and beer, in case you weren't sure).

I WAS also uncomfortable with the idea of reclaiming knitting as a manly art, Shua.  In fact, I was thinking about this all the way home today.  I guess because "reclaiming" feels exclusionary to me.  It's taking it back, and that means taking it away from women.  We just convinced men that it's okay for them to knit, too, but instead of furthering the idea that knitting doesn't have to be a gender-identified activity, we turn it into a men's activity, reclaim it as a "manly art", exclusive of women.  At least that's how it feels.   And women, who have been knitting for centuries, who've literally kept the craft alive, are sort of left out in the cold.  There was a huge ruckus about this on another website a while back that quickly turned to name calling.  I understood then that this was the point they were trying to make, but the trailer and your comments make it that much clearer.  There's a lot of emphasis on men's role in the "invention" of knitting, but you have to wonder how much credit men really deserve.  It's like that portable breathalyzer that's tied to your cars ignition to keep you from driving drunk.  I had that idea years ago!  But I didn't do much more than think about it.  So how credible is my claim that I invented it if I'm not the one who kept it alive.

vt_shua's picture

JPaul and Lars - Thank you for your thoughtful replies. Discussing the construction of gender vis a vis knitting is such an important discussion, since many of us have faced gender stereotypes as a result of public knitting. Let me address a couple of your points. Was I reading a bit much into the trailer? Probably, yes. It's the sociologist in me - though I firmly believe that language constructs reality. And I believe that the way we pose or construct an argument more or less dictates how we can approach the discussion - it circumscribes the debate. So when I sense someone broaching what I feel borders on essentist notions of masculinity, flags go up for me - primarily because I have historically been excluded from masculine constructions as a Queer. I'm not saying that an essentialist notion is being promoted by the trailer - I assume just the opposite is the case. But what disturbed me, and why I felt the hyper masculine was being revered, were the specific images being used. Let's be honest - while Rosy Grier may have done needlepoint in the 70's, the bulk of the NFL isn't knitting. I felt that the images were strategically being used to construct an argument about possibilities for "real men" - and that they need to be expanded. I agree - gender is confining! But the images didn't reflect my lived experience as a man. As a knitter. As a male knitter. Which is why I felt alienated, and posted my comment. Thanks for your feedback and thoughtful insights - I rewatched the trailer and did notice the pause you mentioned - and also felt better about the framing of the argument. I suppose I just needed to rant...

MasonM's picture


I just want to interject my own two cents here. I'm new here and thus do not wish to offend to marginalize anyone, but frankly my feeling is that you are feeling alienated for no reason at all.

Whether straight or gay, a man is a man. While I am a straight man, I have known some guys who were quite manly who just happened to be gay. For those guys, the fact that they were gay was only one facet of who they are as a man, not the totality. The fact that I am straight is only one facet of who I am as a man, not the totality of it.

Being gay, or straight, and being manly actually have little if anything to do with each other. For me at least, a "real man" is a man who is confident and secure in who he is and has nothing at all to do with who he sleeps with.


Linux: because a PC is a terrible thing to waste


Linux: because a PC is a terrible thing to waste

kiwiknitter's picture

Somehow, I missed this blog discussion. I don't know how that happened; I guess I was so excited to read about the DVD and then to get it that I never noticed it again. Odd, since these posts are the "stuff" I love! But, I digress. I agree with Shua - I was very turned-off by the trailer. I found it sexist and exclusionary and it certainly stretched the point. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and that "pink chiffon" voice was over the top! It was obvious to me that the trailer was aimed at straight men (like how many of those guys are going to pop this DVD into their machines?) and not at queer blokes. I love watching and re-watching the programme but at the end of the day, how many straight guys have been converted to our craft by watching this DVD?

My knitting is totally tubular!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

gre8dean's picture

Here's a book I found on our church's web site:

The Knitting Way: A Guide to Spiritual Self-Discovery

Just thought ya'll would be interested.

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

knit_knot_eat's picture

I found this thread very interesting to read. I am straight with two kids (although that should not matter). I can't play a sport if my life depended on it (except maybe bowling!). I am not into watching many sports on TV either. I enjoy shopping with my wife (there isn't much better than getting a great bargain) And now I knit. So does this make me less of a man? To some people yes. To me no. But yet, other than to my wife and parents, I am a closet knitter. I guess I am afraid of that stigma. I am sure people at work would have a great laugh, and I don't feel I need that kind of ridicule at work (or the guys I play poker with, ok so I do have a couple of manly things I enjoy)

What I find funny is that I work in Philly and watched the world series while knitting. And I also watch some football games on Sundays while knitting. I don't follow the teams or the players, but know enough about the sports to get a little excitement from it. Plus I find with so much downtime in the games, it is very easy to knit and then look up at the TV only when needed.

What am I getting at? I don't know. I don't fit the mold. I don't care, but I do care that others care. Overall, I think it is a sad society that we live in that people have to feel embarrassed about anything in their lifestyles. And I guess I have myself to blame since I go along with it in public.

Maybe things will change for my children.