Men’s Knitting Group Defies Stereotypes
D.C. Men Knit meets twice a month in Old Town.
Move over, ladies.
Knitting has experienced a resurgence in popularity not only among women in recent years. Men – who once populated medieval Europe’s knitting guilds – are picking up the needles once again.
D.C. Men Knit, an area group comprising more than 80 members, meets weekly at locations throughout the Washington metropolitan area to hone their skills, share knitting and crocheting ideas and – most importantly – have fun.
“There’s time when it really does just need to be the guys, hanging out,” said group coordinator Gene Throwe, 40, of Capitol Hill. “The conversation tends to get interesting if it’s just the guys.”
D.C. Men Knit, which started about five years ago and is open to any men who knit, crochet, tat, spin fiber or practice any other type of fiber art, meets two Sundays a month at Fibre Space in Old Town. Fibre Space owner Danielle Romanetti said although about 80 percent of her customers are women, men can often be found perusing the shop’s rainbow of fiber goods.
“There are a good number of men who knit,” she said. “I have men who come in who want to knit for their wives – their wives won’t knit.”
Men have been knitting for hundreds of years, Romanetti said. “Traditionally, men were knitters. It was considered a manufacturing-type function.”
Some professional football players knit in off-season to keep their fingers nimble, Romanetti said. Henry Wray of Arlington, a member of the men’s group, said in years past, many sailors crocheted their own nets.
At a recent get-together in Old Town, 30-year-old Spencer Lepler of Centreville knitted a scarf for his partner. Lepler took up the art about a year and a half ago.
“It’s nice to be knitting amongst other people,” he said. “It’s fun to knit amongst women, as well, but sometimes it’s nice to have other guys to knit around. More for me, it helps me actually get my projects done, because otherwise they just kind of sit around and never get done, and other things become priorities.”
Throwe, meanwhile, crocheted a shawl as a Christmas gift for his mother.
“We all share ideas of what we’re working on, or, especially (for) people that are new to knitting or crocheting, everyone else is more than willing to help them out, get them through problems they’re coming across,” he said.
Devlin Breckenridge, 37, of Adams Morgan, talked with the men as his nimble fingers crocheted a delicate, off-white table runner out of thread. For him, crocheting with a group beats, say, playing video games at home.
“I get a place to come, just hang out, to get out of the house,” he said. “I like doing this because it lets me produce something as opposed to sitting at home and just killing imaginary electronic creatures. It’s something you can create and at the end you can show people and say, ‘I actually made this.’ And most people don’t do any kind of handwork these days.”
Breckenridge is also carrying on a family tradition,
“My great-grandmothers used to do it, and no one else in the family does,” he said. “And I wanted to continue it on.”
D.C. Men Knit can be found on Facebook and Ravelry.com, a free site for knitters and crocheters.