If it’s good enough for FDR…

I give you the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, knitting:

I have to admit that my knitting has been slipping a little bit lately. Sure, I turn in my one or two puffs a month here and there, but that’s about it. Even seeing Sara knit beautiful creation after beautiful creation for Christmas didn’t really spark my imagination. I only have time to really focus on one hobby at a time, and it hasn’t been knitting.

Then I got the idea to make something for Oliver for his birthday, and suddenly I’m re-energized! And enjoying it too: it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever tried to tackle, following a pattern and everything. It’s surprising to me how much I actually understand without having to ask Sara, and yet how it’s a little bit more challenging, like I’m pushing the envelope *just enough* to be interesting, but not scary.

In fact, I already decided on my next project after this one. Here’s hoping the enthusiasm holds!

Of course there are costs to everything. I was hoping to finish my fledgling novel by Oliver’s birthday. Christmas stalled out progress at about 17,000 words, and I’ve only added about 1,000 since then. In other words, I have a loooong way to go yet. Between everything else I have to do, every hour I spend knitting is one I don’t spend writing. My writing output is already preciously low, and I regret every hour I don’t spend on it.

On the other hand, when I’m worn out at the end of the day, I can quickly pick up my knitting. It’s hard to be in the mood for writing after a long day, and it takes a certain amount of time to really get into it, especially if it’s been several weeks since the last time I wrote.

I guess if FDR could knit and run for the presidency, I can knit and write.

Why Men Should Knit

Although I have met several men who knit, it’s pretty clear that knitting is a female-dominated field. But my question is, why? If you look at it, knitting has all the hallmarks of a stereotypical hobby for men.

  1. Men like to work with their hands – Traditionally, men tend towards “handy” hobbies, like working on their cars. It doesn’t get more tactile than knitting.
  2. Men like hobbies with a tangible result – Traditionally, men like creating something of use as a product of their labors.  Think of “manly” hobbies like wood working. The products of knitting are typically articles of clothing, which serve one of the most basic needs of mankind.
  3. Men don’t like “artsy” hobbies –  While knitting is creative, it’s a lot more following a pattern than pure artistic invention. It’s kind of like reading a car manual or putting together furniture; more perspiration than inspiration, more engineering than artistry.

Okay, so maybe men don’t fall so neatly into the stereotypes. But even more reason to knit, then! The only reason I can think of that would explain why knitting is seen as a “women’s hobby” is because, back in the pioneer days, women did the domestic work like sewing, food preparation, and knitting, while men were out working in the fields. But that’s an even more outdated idea then thinking all men like working on cars and doing wood working. And even then, it wasn’t because the men didn’t like knitting, it was because they didn’t have time for knitting. Besides, plenty of modern men feel comfortable with food preparation.

Additionally, there are a few more things for men to love about knitting. Let me talk to my bros for a minute. Dudes,

  1. It doesn’t require you to move – There are few more sedentary hobbies than knitting. You can even knit and watch sports at the same time.
  2. It’s easy to impress people – Knitting is easier than people think it is (there are only two stitches!). You also have the advantage of being one of the few men to do it. And when you finish a hat, you get to wear it everywhere, giving you plenty of opportunities to brag.
  3. You can totally pick up chicks – As I’ve said, knitting is female-dominated. Every knitting group and yarn store you go to, you’re surrounded by women. And it makes an excellent conversation starter.

I think that if men could be convinced to try knitting, they would find it fits with their natural proclivities.