Tuesday 25 June 2019

More men are purling up in knitting craze

Anne-Marie Walsh

THE knitting craze that has spread through Hollywood and even - allegedly - has Russell Crowe doing "one plain, one purl" is catching on here. And a growing number of men are outing their 10mm needles joining Mary McAleese and Uma Thurman in a trend that has dozens of fashionistas furrowing under the stairs for wool oddments.

THE knitting craze that has spread through Hollywood and even - allegedly - has 'Gladiator' star Russell Crowe doing "one plain, one purl" is catching on here.

And a growing number of men are outing their 10mm needles.

They are joining Mary McAleese and Sarah Jessica Parker in a trend that has dozens of desperate fashionistas furrowing under the stairs for wool oddments they dumped years ago.

Organisers of this year's Knitting and Stitching Show expect at least 10pc of the 26,000 people who turn up to stock up their crafts supplies at the RDS this year will be male.

The traditional artforms of knitting and sewing, which the organisers of the four-day knitting show admit was once the domain of a "grey-haired granny brigade", have gradually become cool.

The re-interest has been fuelled by the impact of highly sought knitwear designs by Lainey Keogh, Julian McDonald, and the Missoni fashion house.

Last year, the two winners of a schools knitting contest at the RDS show were boys, one of whom fit his needlework in around football practice.

This year, two scholars from The Embroiders' Guild, who have a stand at the show, are male.

In addition, embroidery by the head of NCAD's Department of Fashion and Textiles, Nigel Cheney, and MA textile student Logan McLain's work are ondisplay.

"We have had more men visit the show over the last 15 years we have been running it,said Andrew Salmon, MD of Creative Exhibitions.

"And the average age of knitters has dropped from around 58 four years ago to under 37.

"The public image is still very much that knitting and stitching is grey-haired granny country.

"In the past that was the case, but these days people are knitting and stitching for reasons other than economy.

"Over the years, large numbers of grannies would knit because that was what they had always done. It was part of the domestic drudgery. Now kids are latching onto it - both boys and girls and the boys have not grown up with the stigma."

He said a "new knitting" movement has developed that includes extreme groups like Castoff, who have been known to hijack people on the street in an attempt to persuade them to knit.

The group attended last year's Dublin knitting show. "There are anarchist knitters who would grab a bloke in a suit on the way to the office and try and persuade him to knit," he said.

"Suddenly, there are looney tunes where there were initially keen knitters. There is also the Stitch and Bitch groups who meet to knit and socialise in Dublin, London, and the north of England.

Nigel Cheney at NCAD said that men's interest in textiles has been slower to catch on in academia than in the UK.

"I think there are more men involved in the UK and internationally than inIreland although we have had a small number of male students.

"A lot of the men here are interested in fashion, but the first guy graduated in embroidery five or six years ago."

It seems that the story of knitting is gradually spinning back to its origins. Historians believe that the practice of knitting was brought by male traders from Arabia to Europe. Men were the main knitters up to the middle ages and widely believed that women were not clever enough to do it.

The purly queens celebs who like to stitch and bitch

AMONG the celebs that have made knitting sexy are Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Zita Jones - all spotted casting stitches on set. Meanwhile, Uma Thurman, Kristin Davis and Sarah Jessica Parker have been spotted knitting in public.

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