Knitting in Public: where others fear to tread?

I just posted a new entry on my blog discussing men knitting in public:

Please take a look and share your thoughts!


brucedow's picture

Lovely blog!

I have often knitted in public -- but you do have to leave any desire for privacy (and any remnants of shame! [kidding!]0 at the door. Someone always makes a comment.

asgalbraith's picture

I never had anyone make a comment to me that made me question my knitting in public, other than the woman who spoke to me the other day. Most often people ask me what I am making or where I got my yarn or pattern from. I think you are right about the privacy though, because people do tend to start conversations more easily when I am knitting. But, I like it...I think we need more healthy and positive conversations with strangers! Maybe knitting in public can actually make people more friendly to each other...hey, maybe knitting can bring about world peace?

Tallguy's picture

World peace...hmm

I feel much the same when I am spinning. It is such a tranquil meditative state, and I feel everyone should spin a little every day. Now I understand what Ghandi was saying, although he was making a political statement. I've always felt prisoners should spin so that they can have more peace within themselves... and take pride in something that they can do, and go on to make something of their lives. Well, okay, so I have high hopes.

If you are ashamed of being able to knit, then you shouldn't do it in public. But if you are proud that you can manipulate some string with two sticks, and create something beautiful and useful, then why won't you want to show off?!

rharris63's picture

I have just started knitting and I am really enjoying it but I do find that it is something I do behind closed doors. I suspect that is years of gender indoctrination that kept me from learn to knit in the first place and now to come out of the yarn closet. Well, you blog has given me pause. I am going to start packing up my knitting and taking it with me wherever I go. I have lots of commuting time that would be a great time to get some work done and at the office during lunch. My goodness, if I could come out as a gay man I certainly can get out there and show people that men can knit. Thanks for the motivation.

asgalbraith's picture

I am so pleased that you are going to take a step outside the knitting closet! I don't think it matters if you are gay or straight...knitting should be done anywhere one wants to without feeling like it is making a statement. I do like remind people that say something (and it is rare anyone says anything to me when I knit in public) to me that a while back men did the majority of the knitting, before women took it from the fishing boats and into the home.

Have fun! Perhaps you will inspire other wanna be public knitters to bring those needles and yarn out.

Raymiew's picture

I take mine along if I know I'm just going to be sitting waiting for a while. I recently took it to the nursing home where my mother was doing a temporary stay to recover from surgery. The daughter of the woman in the next bed came in and joked that it was an odd hobby for a man. I of course told her differently. Then she said something along the lines of taking a picture to show my fellow attorney's. I told her I often take it to work with me when I'm having a slow day with no court appearences. Then because I was pissy said "I assume you have no talent at knitting correct?" I think she got the point as she sheepishly said she didn't know how to knit.

I don't really see it as bravery though. I mean I do after all have two sharp metal objects to inflict pain on any naysayers.

asgalbraith's picture

Yeah! Good for you!

Tallguy's picture

Indeed. No one in his right mind would want to argue with anyone holding such lethal weapons! LOL

It reminds me of the murder trial I once attended. There was a model of a head, used as an exhibit. To show the trajectory of the bullets that entered the head, they had insert very long knitting needles into the head!! There was some sort of bizarre amusement when I saw that. I'm not sure what that says about me.

rjcb3's picture

Well, I posted on the blog, but, I'll just say pretty much the same thing here:

Bravery? P'shaw!!!!


StuartWS's picture

Don't you mean P' SHAWL?

sorry, couldn't resist
Knitting puns! Ha!

MMario's picture

YOu know - it wasn't that long ago that people didn't go anywhere without something to occupy "idle hands" while waiting.

Whittling, braiding, sewing, knitting, etc, etc, etc. Then it became seen as "lower class" ; and then it became seen as "rude". Well - to heck with that.

I think it is certainly a lot better/politer to be knitting in public then to be having a private conversation on a cell phone, or be absorbed in playing a game on some little electronic gizmo; or even listening to a private "concert" on an mp3 player.

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

QueerJoe's picture

Hmmm...courage...the conversation you describe on your blog (love your format, btw) makes the woman's comment seem more like an unintentional backhanded compliment (which I guess is really an insult or minimally trying to discourage aberrant behavior).

Knitting in public for me requires no courage. I find my time in airports or doctor's waiting rooms much more productive than the woman reading "Us" magazine or the man dozing off.

I do find it odd and very true what you all my travels, I have never seen another man knitting in public (except at locations that were specifically geared toward knitting, like a fiber festival or a Men's Knitting Retreat). And I have seen a lot of women knitting in public.

daveballarat's picture

Guys, I've only knitted in public once and that wasn't particularly public. It was in the foreground/restaurant area of a pension in southern Turkey. My good friend RickeScott was there and he was weaving at the time.
The two local women who happened to be there at the time did make some comment... which Ricke relayed to me ... 'cos my Turkish is still crap after a year here... that they were surprised but ... they accepted it after a few minutes and got on with whatever they were doing.
I wore to work on Monday my jumper that I knitted. Inside out seams and all :) ... I teach at an international school. The women on staff were blown away. There were only 4 knitters on staff (of 34 people) and there were mightily impressed because we are much the same standard (low/beginners) and they weren't confident in using cable... so brownie points to me :)
I didn't have the courage to knit while travelling on the bus (17 hour journey... could be a project started and finished) or on the plane home and back (22 hours to Australia and the same on the return journey) ...I'm just not confident enough. I know I knit evenly, Ricke is amazed at how consistent I am... but still I don't feel confident enough... in another culture and ... what the hell would I say back provided I understood what they said to me ... cos ... I can't communicate in the local language yet.... maybe that can be my protection. ... and just get out there and do it... it's strange language that we are using don't you think....

... would an exhibitionist club also use the same language .... ha ha :) closet, just get out and be seen .... step out and do it ....etc...

and some guys knit in the nude ... it's too cold here for that... no risk of anything getting caught up in the yarn I suppose :)

But I must say I love this site ... the support and the inspiration generated... it is fantastic !!!

Congrats to everyone who is a part of Men Who Knit

Istanbul, Turkey


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Books, knitting, cats...Life is Good. ---- I always knit in public...private...wherever. I recently was at a friend's wedding and the person taking pictures commented that I needed my knitting to make sure everyone would recognize me. (It was in the car.) I also had two instances on my recent trip to New York where grandmothers talked to me about my knitting. One was to praise my sock's colorway but the 2nd - and best - was the two Chinese grandmoms who gave me a BIG thumbs-up and smiles because I was knitting at Riverside Park. I've knit in public practically from Day One so have been doing it for about 40 years, not caring about funny looks, negative comments, or whatever. However, the positive comments and wonderful conversations have made it all worthwhile. My advice - Enjoy your knitting wherever you can. (And feel comfortable.) -- Added thought - That includes when travelling, whether on public transportation, trains, airplanes, or in the passenger seat of a car. (No way would I try to knit and steer the car at the same time!)

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

rjcb3's picture

Oh, that's happened to me too!!! Someone told me I needed my knitting so that everyone would recognise me! Everyone who knows me knows about my knitting and even when I was working (before the company closed down...whole 'nother post) I even brought my knitting to work.

When Ravelry was doing the Ravelympics and I was knitting my sweater for my event, even the regulars that saw me every morning on the bus kept asking about my knitting. One of my "bus friends" even took a couple of pictures of me knitting -- just so I could get it on Ravelry.

I won't travel without my knitting and everyone knows this...sometimes even boarding the Amtrak with bag over shoulder and knitting while walking on!


teejtc's picture

I always used to get that kind of comment at denominational meetings where I'd dragged my daughter (now 3 years old). People used to say things like "I'm so impressed you'd take her with you." I occasionally pointed out that it wasn't all that impressive, many of my female colleagues had been doing similar things for years, why should it be impressive that I was doing it?

"Oh.." they'd say "...well, we'll it's so nice to see a father doing that"

"but, what's so nice about it... mothers do it all the time"

"yea... well... oh... um.... I'm going to go get some coffee...."

My knitting conversations often go similarly. Of course, that's only on my ornery days. On my nice days I simply say "Thanks."

Grace and Peace,

bryanbryan's picture

I think that if you are comfortable in your surroundings knitting in public can be a fantastic "time passer" and conversation starter. I knit at sporting events, in the doctor's office, on my lunch breaks, and anywhere else I happen to be with time on my hands.

I have only had one negative comment...that was from another man. Of course I was at a sporting event and he obviously thought it wasn't manly to be knitting in public. If he only knew... his grandson that was participating in the sporting event had asked me to make him a hat.

Some people will never accept seeing a man knitting in public but you can bet they will be the first to wear something knitted.

So guys...get out there and show the world what you can do!

Bill's picture

I've had great conversations while knitting...been on three airplanes in the last few weeks...and fellow passengers chat with me...even the stewardess wanted to know what I was knitting...(kilt socks)
...I'm old enough now to not worry about what people think...LOL

Stan Stansbury's picture

Knitting eases my commute.
I spend about an hour twice a day on crowded commuter BART trains. Focusing on my knitting means that I don't notice every single station as it goes by, and I have someplace to look so I don't have to stare awkwardly into space as so many people do. Especially when the car is jammed and claustrophobic, I can just put my head down and knit, and not have to deal with 10 strangers touching me and breathing in my face. When the car is less crowded my knitting is a conversation magnet. Usually at least one person a day wants to know what I'm knitting, or to tell me that they knit too. So that's kind of fun.
Knitting is a great social activity.
The Monday Night Knit at the Caffe Trieste in San Francisco, and occasional evenings with other groups elsewhere are a great social outlet. If people are knitters I know I'll like them and have plenty to talk about

Stan Stansbury

Wonartist66's picture

Knitting in public for me is such great thing....People always ask me about knitting and what to learn about knitting. Everyday i took a train to get to work. I knit about hour in the train..First time people see me weird men knitting a socks but right now iam teaching two guys in the train how knit. Working at the yarn shop, since two years ago, usually 90% of women buying the yarn and less then 10% of men buying, but right now 70% of women and 30% of men buying the yarn..It is still smell amount but it is changing every year and more mens knitting in knitting community.

I think main idea is that have to countinuely keep showing and knitting in public showing and promoting guys can knit.

YarnGuy716's picture

I knit in public often. While traveling, in the airport or in the car. I always take my turn at driving when we leave in the middle of the night, so when it gets light out and I can see to knit I have one of the others drive.

I also knit in waiting rooms, especially at the doctors. When I go to my podiatrist I always make sure to work on a sock LOL. This past year dad had a few hospital stays. I got a lot of knitting done during those times.

Our knitting guild has a group that meets in a cafe every Monday and Thursday. Of course I am the only man knitting. The usual assumption is that I'm there so the ladies can teach me how to knit. The funny thing is I'm probably the one in our group who has knit for the longest, which the ladies are quick to point out.

I have had cute college boys come up and talk to me while I've been knitting. Especially when I was doing the Harry Potter scarfs. I had no issues with that at all.

Thomasknits's picture

It certainly is a good conversation starter when people see a guy knitting...I've talked with so many people who just randomly come up and are amazed...


Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog I am glad that I am comfortable enough to crochet or knit in publlic. I have never had a bad experience, just curious people!

asgalbraith's picture

I am glad that most people have a similar experience to mine.
Most people are curious and fascinated, much like when I draw or paint in public. The act of creation is a powerful people magnet, and knitting is no exception.

That is why I am surprised, with all the knitters out there, that I don't see more knitters (men and women) out there knitting in public! I heard about a knitting in public day in San Francisco, are there others around the USA?

MMario's picture

There's a world wide knit in public day that keeps coming up. In June, I think, because I was at Rustic Tarts and Old Farts that day, and we were knitting on the porch at Cracker Barrel.

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

asgalbraith's picture

You are right. I looked it up and here is the link:
Thanks for pointing that out!

Mnjack's picture

After many years as a closet knitter and crocheter, I finally decided what the hell and began knitting in public, especially when I was on a long trip. I now knit in airports, on the planes, or in parks wherever I am. I always get comments. The flight attendants always want to know what I am making, it is surprising how many of them knit. They then inform me that they have a lot of men knitters on flights. In airports I often have people stop and ask what I am making. The most flattering comment was in San Antonio. I was there for a convention and had free time, so found a bench along the river walk. At that time I was crocheting and working on a tablecloth. Two women stopped by and wanted to see my work. They both commented about it becoming a lost art and did I sell my stuff. They wanted to buy it. I am off to Guatemala on Sat. and am trying to decide which knitting project to take along. I am sure I will get a lot done on the planes and in the terminals, as I have a long layover in Houston. It certainly helps pass the time when traveling. Of course now my attitude is, if you don't like seeing me knit......go somewhere else. I guess in a way it did take courage for me the first time. That is because we have such strict rules about what is or is not a manly thing.

asgalbraith's picture

I think that sometimes people (men and women) have problems with men knitting because it makes them think about the limitations that they allow to be put on themselves. When they see a man knit, they are seeing someone who isn't giving in to societal limitations, and unconsciously, it bothers them.