Our knitting group met last week. Although we don't have a "formal" membership process, a core of 'regulars' has developed over the past couple of months. We had THREE first-time participants, so it was sort of a red-letter day.
Even more exciting is that one of them was both a first time knitter and A MAN! This may not sound like much, but male knitters are somewhat scarce in the craft. Like on the scale of finding a gem-quality diamond in the dirt on your afternoon walk kind of scarce. I'm exaggerating (a little), but suffice it to say that you will be hard pressed to find many dudes that will profess to proficiency with the knit sticks.
This was my first time witnessing the birth of a male knitter. It's always exciting to see someone pick up the needles for the first time. Most of the time, they are eager and nervous at the same time. It makes coordination of the yarn and needles a little harder than normal because they are trying very much to do it 'right.' But with encouragement and support from a willing teacher, they are ticking along in no time.
J was not fooling around on his first time out. Under the watchful eye of his girlfriend, he had cast on a series of stitches and had spread them over three double pointed needles. Yes, you heard it right true believers. He bypassed standard flat knitting on two needles and jumped right in the deep end to knit in the round. This method is most commonly used in knitting socks and is sometimes compared to wrestling with a porcupine. J had also elected to use two strands held together (another bold choice for a beginner).
J took a seat in the common room and diligently worked the rounds in his project. Ever the gentleman, he even moved to the floor to allow the ladies a chair. And at some point in the evening, each of us paused to watch him work and offer encouragement. Or told his girlfriend (so he could hear it, of course) how lucky she was to have a man that knits.
Don't misunderstand -- we are supportive of ANY new person that decides to brave the needles and tame a skein or two. It's fun to see that look of "A-HA!" when the process begins to make sense. But somewhere along the way, the craft landed (mostly) in the feminine domain. "Knitter" somehow became effeminate. It is fascinating to see a man knit in the same way as watching a muscular, tattooed gent handle a toddler (interesting day people watching at the mall -- another post entirely.)
And if you are a single male, there is quite possibly no better way to meet a quality lady. If you go to a knitting class without a wedding ring, someone may ask your status during the course. (Knitters aren't too shy and some are downright nosey!) One of your classmates will be willing to tell you about their lovely and talented daughter/granddaughter/neice/cousin/ friend who would be delighted to meet you. Or if you find a good place to people watch while you work on your latest project (read: park bench, gallery, or even the bus/subway), you may get a gentle inquiry that turns into a conversation.