Traditionally knitting has been seen as predominantly female-centric, however, the popularity of knitting amongst men is seeing a resurgence. You may be surprised to hear that men’s role in knitting has a long history too. Read on to discover more.
History of Men’s Knitting
The technique of knitting is thought to have originated around 1000 AD in Egypt. Historically people knitted with natural fibres such as cotton or wool, which means many early knitted items have decayed, making it challenging to trace back the exact roots of the craft. It is suggested to have arrived in Europe sometime between 1000 – 1500 AD, perhaps during the Crusades or the Arab Conquests.
During the Middle Ages in the UK, men’s knitting guilds were set up. This was a huge commitment, requiring six years of training. The young men would spend three years in apprenticeship followed by three years travelling to gain experience and find new patterns. Women were strictly not allowed.
World War 1 saw men enlisted to knit clothing for the troops to help support the war effort. The summer of 1918 in Central Park, New York, saw a three-day knitting bee, holding knitting competitions for speed. They raised thousands of dollars and produced hundreds of items of clothing and socks for those fighting. Knitting was a patriotic duty during those times, with prisoners, firemen and company employees all enlisted to knit as much as possible. Not only this, but wounded soldiers were taught to knit from their beds for therapeutic reasons.
Benefits of Knitting
Gender aside, knitting has proven mental and physical health benefits. Cardiff University carried out a recent survey of over 3,000 knitters. The results were astounding and affirming. Knitters reported feeling more relaxed, lower levels of stress, higher cognitive functioning as well as improved social contact. The craft has been compared to yoga for its meditative qualities and it can even be beneficial for chronic pain sufferers. The mindful rhythmic nature of knitting provides focus and concentration. The individual’s worries are cast aside and it becomes easier to enter a state of flow, totally immersed within the present moment.
Is there a man in your life that you think could benefit from knitting? Or are you a male and considering taking up the needles? Why not check out our Men’s Knitting Class.
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Image credits: Susan Brown | Travis DesLaurier