Men who Knit!

Men who Knit!

We talk knitting and gender prejudice with world famous knitting artists… and men who just really like to knit.

What draws you to knitting? | How did you learn to knit? | Have you faced any gender prejudice? | Favourite knitting project?

We talked to renowned artist Kaffe Fassett, owner of Trendsetter Yarns Barry Klein, playwright and well-known knitter David Demchuk and our friend Mike Bates about their experiences of knitting and how they respond to gender prejudice if it happens to cross their path. Because knitting is way too cool to be assigned to just one gender.

What draws you to knitting?

Kaffe Fassett: The sheer mystery of looping yarn together to create a colourful cloth. I am most interested in colour as a magic ingredient in life and I find knitting a great way to explore new combinations.

Diagonal Colourscape Scarves by Kaffe Fassett.

David Demchuk: I have always enjoyed crafts and making things from when I was a small child. I find the motion of knitting relaxing, and like that I can listen to music or watch not-particularly-demanding TV while I knit. I also enjoy the materials I work with – yarns of different colours and fibres – and the sense of achievement that comes from finishing a project.

Barry Klein: I grew up in a family that had a needlearts store. It started in our house and then we opened up a retail store. It was very successful as we covered all of the needlearts and took the store to the people by teaching classes in schools, at church’s and at temple’s. It became a home. I learned how to needlepoint at 6 and then at 12 I learned how to knit. It was so incredible to take a ball of yarn and turn it into something else. It was a challenge to have your mind imagine something and then have your hands make it become a reality. There is also nothing more wonderful than to feel yarn run through your fingers. I am a textural kind of guy.

Bodega yarns. Just some of the gorgeous yarns available at Barry Klein’s Trendsetter Yarns.

Mike Bates: I’m not really one for ‘fashion’, or even putting much effort into outfits, and if I ever want a nice item of clothing shops never sell things that float my boat. I like bold colours and things that fit me correctly (as a tall skinny man, I usually end up swamped) and shops just don’t do this – it’s all pastel shades with semi-worn decals on them that attempt to look vintage. By making my own clothes I can make myself an item that a) fits me properly, b) is the colours I want, and c) costs about as much as something I don’t like would in a shop. Knitting is by no means cheap – a jumper is about £50 to make if you go for nice yarn, but for a pure wool jumper that’s uniquely designed by and for me I can’t see any problems compared to the options in the shops. Not to mention the opportunity it gives me to play with colours and patterns that lets my imagination have a play before I put it back in the pen…

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.