Men who Knit – Part 2
We talk knitting and gender prejudice with world famous knitting artists… and men who just really like to knit.
How did you learn to knit?
Kaffe Fassett: My autobiography (due out this September) tells the story of being taught how to knit on a train from Scotland to London after I had purchased 20 glorious shades of Shetland yarn in an Inverness mill – it took me 20 minutes to learn how to do stocking stitch and another 20 minutes a month later to do Fair Isle and Intarsia knitting.
David Demchuk: My mother tried teaching me several times when I was a child but though I watched carefully and tried to recreate her movements with the needles and yarn, I couldn’t quite get it. Then many years passed and I moved from my hometown of Winnipeg to Toronto, where I live now. One of my first jobs was in a local community centre, and during the winter the women I worked with would stay in over lunch and knit. I picked up a ball of yarn and some needles and realized that as those years had passed, my mind had somehow made the connection–I discovered that I knew how to knit after all. The women I worked with taught me how to cast on, increase and decrease, and after that there was no stopping me.
Barry Klein: I spent lots of hours in our family store and one of my Moms employees got tired of me griping about having to be at the store. She took the yarn and needles and got me started. At first I thought what a Bch. To this day we are wonderful friends as she changed my life.
A hat by Mike Bates made from his own handspun yarn
Mike Bates: Annis taught me – I was visiting Hove with her for Easter a couple of years ago, and we visited a yarn shop. I’ve always wanted to know how things work, how things are made, and I like doing things that have a concrete outcome (we now spin yarn as well as knit… the flat’s full of fluff now…) it’s just very rewarding to see something you’ve created take shape and it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed experiencing. I basically asked Annis enough questions about how knitting worked, how different garments are made through knitting and the like that by the end of the trip she’d taught me to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off and I had a lumpy scarf by the end of the trip. Since then we’ve constantly egged each other on to make more elaborate new techniques and projects, and now we’re spinning as well… it’s all fun and games.
Kaffe Fassett is a renowned artist who has inspired people across the world with his colourful work in fabric, knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting and mosaic.
Barry Klein is the owner of Trendsetter Yarns and is a past president of the National Needlework Association. He has designed patterns for Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, and Knitters Magazine among others.
David Demchuk was born and raised in Winnipeg and now lives in Toronto. A playwright, independent filmmaker, screenwriter, essayist, critic and journalist, he has been writing for theatre, film, television, radio and other media for over thirty years. Known primarily for his work in Canadian theatre, David’s plays have been produced internationally.
Mike Bates is a man who keeps asking himself the question “how does it work?” and eventually began to direct that question at a pair of knitting needles.