Soapbox - Knitting doesn't make me a granny

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

I’m a very creative person. I’ve been knitting and crocheting for as long as I can remember...

I’m a very creative person. I’ve been knitting and crocheting for as long as I can remember. My Mam’s friend taught me when I was about 8 to do it properly, and my love of my crafts has only grown with age. When my Nanny heard about my hobbies, she dug out her bag of hooks and needles for me to have, and she showed me all the jumpers and hats she had made over the years. I made hats for my roles for plays in my primary school - my favourite had to be the iconic red hat from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. When teachers found out I could knit and crochet, they were really surprised that a young “lad” like myself could knit. So why was that so surprising? It stuck with me nonetheless that interest in such crafts wasn’t normal for a boy.

Even in the scouts, a place I thought was relatively judgement-free, knitting was almost a taboo subject. There was a badge for it so, of course, I went for it? I had to give a presentation on it and bring a few pieces I had made. Then came the questions. “Isn’t knitting for nannies”, “knitting is for girls”, “you’re a boy, why do you knit, isn’t it girly”. 

In my all-boys secondary school, I was terrified of other boys finding out I could knit and crochet, I never wore any of the hats or scarves I made until I was outed in second year, and then I was targeted as a result. All the slurs you could imagine, being called a granny, the whole lot. So why is there such an opposition to boys knitting? Getting work experience in a knitting shop was a dream come true, but it was only after an awkward interview where I had to defend my knowledge about crafts, that was still met with scepticism even after I had demonstrated my know-how, that I got a placement. 

In university, I realised I was Nonbinary, so the whole boy-who-knitted thing died out, yet people still associate knitting with grannies and aul ones. One of the phrases I noticed popping up more and more commonly was “knitting and crocheting explains the whole nonbinary thing, like its a telltale sign of being queer”. Is it? Why is knitting a sign or a trait of being feminine or not straight? Sure, I turned out to be queer, but why is it accepted almost universally by people as this hobby you can only do if you’re anything but straight, cisgender, and manly? 

Anyone can knit and crochet, it only has these associations because over the years the ill-defined position that men have to take is to separate gender roles into what a man can and can’t do. Being able to do a craft like knitting and crochet should be something to be proud of - it's not easy memorising stitches and being able to keep your tension in a piece. So, why don’t we start recognising these crafts as something anyone can do, no matter your gender, sexuality, or without assuming that someone who does them “obviously” fits predefined criteria instead of acknowledging that no matter what I am, I can crochet a sick looking Baby Yoda. Another critique of these crafts is its slow and boring, but I ask the question; Who has 15 Baby Yodas? The person who can crochet, me.