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Knitting Out Loud audiobooks


My journey as an out and proud male knitter has spanned more than two decades. In that time, and especially in recent years, I and my knitting brethren have gone from being derided, to ignored and then tolerated, to attracting curiosity, interest and respect.

There’s a greater sense of acceptance now than even five years ago but, pleasant as it is, those of us who see knitting as a socio-political act (as well as a great source of hats) may be wondering: What’s the new frontier for male knitters? What, these days, makes a male knitter “hardcore”?

For example, it used to be that a male knitter was considered hardcore if he—well—if he knitted. Period. That’s all it took. “A guy who knits? Oooooh, hardcore!”

Then of course, came knitting in public. People stopping and staring and muttering, as if you were out there naked. Some were intrigued or delighted, some were disgusted. One or two would come up to you, timid and giggling, like they’d been double-dared to step onto the porch of a haunted house. But once it became more commonplace to see men out knitting on café patios, in movie lineups and with gaggles of girl knitters (and other guy knitters), the bar was raised. Now it was about what you were knitting.

For anyone could knit a scarf or a hat or a washcloth in front of a crowd of onlookers—but a sock? A slip-stitch heel? That was hardcore. That was like being asked to write for Hustler. Or Interweave Knits. (True story: I was once contacted by Hustler and asked to propose a sex advice column for their magazine, which prompted my straight male friends to call me ‘Silverback’. But I guess my proposal wasn’t vulgar enough or offensive enough, because I submitted it and then never heard back.)

That was hard to top for a while, the knitting-a-sock-in-public thing (which was just fine for those with Second Sock Syndrome), but soon enough: if you were a guy and you were out-there enough to knit lace in public, well, that was the new hardcore. (Extra points for you if you could go to your weekly s’n’b and knit lace there without buggering it up—that was super-hardcore, like beating the original Nintendo Ninja Gaiden.)

Then suddenly all the knitting men were whipping through Icarus like it was a jar of microwave-warmed Nutella. What was left? What more could be done? What new knitting feat would challenge our notions of manhood and deliver some shock-and-awe to non-knitters everywhere?

Baby clothes.

Yes, baby clothes. For it’s provocative enough for a woman of reproducing age to knit baby clothes in public (especially if they’re not for her own baby).  But a man knitting baby clothes in public—as I’ve had to do several times in the last few months—is apparently like leaving a ticking briefcase in the middle of a crowded London square. People are literally beside themselves over the potential harm that could unfold if the knitter was, in fact, armed and ready to go off at any moment.

I like to knit at the movies. Not while the film is on but certainly before, as I usually arrive early and am otherwise subjected to inane celebrity trivia and tedious big-screen advertisements. Nobody bothers you. If you’re careful to choose a seat under a potlight, you can actually see what you’re doing. This is the perfect place to knit, in my opinion, and something portable like a baby sweater on a circular needle is, to me, the perfect project.

—eight, nine, ten, eleven, knit the front, knit the back—

“Excuse me,” comes a voice from the row behind me.

“Yes?” I ask, not turning around. One, two, three, four—

“What are you doing?”

—five, six— “Counting.”
—seven, eight—oops, eight—

“Oh. No, I mean—what are you making?”


Oh, for the love of—it’s pastel green with bobbles all over it, what does it look like, a jockstrap?
Now now: deep breath, smile. Remember, you’re a Knitting Ambassador.

“Sorry. It’s a baby sweater. See?” For the first time I turn and look at her. She looks like my fifth grade teacher, the former prison matron.

“Oh,” she replies, looking from the sweater to me and back again. “I don’t think you should be doing that.” She leans forward to tell me, as if it’s a secret: “People can see you.”

Several dozen sharp and witty responses appear before my eyes, floating in and out of focus, but all I can do is move my mouth like a fish. Suddenly, the Coming Attractions begin. Relieved, I turn around, stuff my knitting away. But. I can hear her behind me. She huffs a few breaths, then stands up with what sounds like 15 bags of shopping, and “excuse me”s her way down the row and away.
Yes, she is moving. Away from me, and my deviant baby sweater.

I like to knit in one of the nearby diners, where I sometimes meet a friend or two for breakfast. (Not the cheap crowded diner around the corner, but the more expensive, less crowded diner a few blocks away.) Early on a Sunday morning, when little else is open, it’s usually just me and the wait staff and the cooks behind the grill, plus the occasional huddle of tourists from the hotel in the next block. ‘Occasional’ like today.

—thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, slip one, knit two together, pass the slipped stitch over—

A large round shadow appears beside me. “Hi.”

I turn and look up. A tourist—a husband—is standing over me. Probably a year or two older than me but, shall we say, on a different path. I look back to his table where his wife and two other couples are staring at me, nervous and amused.

“My wife says you’re knitting.”

“Does she?” I look back, give her a little fingery wave. She turns as red as an oven burner and swivels away, to the great delight of her friends. “Well, she’s right. I’m knitting.” I turn back to my work, readjust my needles—


I turn back, look up at him. “Because I can,” I answer. “Do you have a hobby?”

“No,” he states, a little defiantly.

“Well,” I say. “You should get one.”
I turn back to my knitting, but there’s just no end to it.

“My wife says you’re knitting a baby thing.”

I’m starting to wish the wife would just come here and say these things herself. “Yes,” I say, facing him once again. “It’s a sweater.”

“What for, are you pregnant?” He half-shouts the p-word and his whole table cracks up. This, I guess, is the punchline.

I level a nasty gaze at his wife, and then look up at him. “No, sorry, I’m not. Why?” I ask. “Is she?”

At last, my (thankfully tall, thankfully burly, intimidatingly tattooed) friend shows up, arrives at our table. “Hi,” he says, “who’s this?”

I go to introduce my new acquaintance but, strangely, he’s already backing away from us and hurrying back to his table. Very shortly after, the couples—somewhat more subdued—stand up and scuttle past us out the door.

My furry friend cannot resist: “He so wanted you.”
When I only have an hour before I have to give someone a finished object, I’ll knit practically anywhere. The atrium at work is ringed with tables, which are ringed with chairs, which are full of colleagues. Who cares—I’ve got to get this done.

“Hello,” says a voice just ahead of me. I look up to see one of our female security guards.

“Hi,” I say rather warily.

“What’s that you’re making?” she asks. “Is that a baby sweater?”

Oh, lord. “Yes, it is.”

“I know that pattern, “ she exclaims, “I’ve made a few of those! And what a lovely colour. Is it for a boy or a girl?”

“A girl,” I say, “though I didn’t know that when I started.”

 “Well, I’ve never seen a man knit one of these before, and you’re doing a fine fine job,” she smiles. “It’s a lucky baby who’s going to be wearing that.” A sudden thought crosses her face. “Are you going to make the bonnet? You have to make the bonnet. The bonnet and the booties.”

“Well, I don’t know…” but I already do. The bonnet, the booties: hardcore.



David Demchuk is taking some time away from Knitty, and not to write for Hustler.

David’s obligatory knitblog can be found right here.