Thursday, 11 March 2010

Review: The Manly Art of Knitting

Review of “The Manly Art of Knitting”
By Dave Fougner, 1972 (ISBN: 978-0960057245)

The book is more like a pamphlet in size and therefore it may surprise you to know that it currently costs £168 used on amazon. However, it is a very no nonsense introduction to knitting that you can’t help but admire. It begins with a (very) brief history of knitting, focusing on how knitting has always been a male-dominated craft.
As late as the 19th century it was common to see men knitting. But, as the importance of hand knitting declined and factory made clothing became available, knitting became the evening pastime of women. Men were forced through economic necessity to turn their skills away from knitting.
What I really enjoyed was actually the also brief paragraph about needle sizes. It is very clear-cut and technical in the same way you will see a description of how pixels work with digital images.
It should be notes that if you wish to make a blanket three feet wide and six feet long, the larger the needle size, the fewer the stitches and therefore the shorter the completion time.
This is of course true but not a description I think you will find in many female oriented knitting books. Which I must admit, as a female with a very technical brain, is a shame. Fougner goes through the normal repertoire that you would expect of any knitting instruction book but does so in the same straightforward and technical manner described above. He adds a couple of patterns, among other a blanket for your dog, a saddle blanket for your horse using an old hose as circular needles and a rope hammock using shovel handles for needles. Now you can’t say that this is not manly! However, I do feel that in trying to sell the idea of knitting to men he is patronizing them and himself by suggesting that men should knit things like saddle blankets or maybe at a push a sweater. We shouldn’t forget that if men could become accomplished knitters to win the favor of kings and queens, then modern men can surely also knit delicate beautiful clothes and such. However, what Fougner has probably realized is that even though men could knit anything (he probably can) he can only sell the idea of knitting with stereotypical manly projects. Because no matter how you look at it knitting has over the last 60 years become a predominantly feminine actively and no matter how much we try it is difficult to convince modern men that it is a worthwhile pursuit. So maybe knitting a hammock with shovel handles will convince them and as Fougner himself has found it strengthens his hand muscles and improves his tennis game.

Do you want another view on this book. Go to men who knit and have a look.
Do you have an opinion on whether knitting is a manly craft? Why not discuss it in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. [...] by the same three. I visited the library in order to review one of their many items, namely ‘The Manly Art of Knitting‘. A rummage through the library shelves told a story of avid collectors with a great interest [...]


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