Men who knit: I Knit London's Craig speaks
The UK's I Knit London is one of a new generation of knitting groups, whose members bring knitting into every part of their life, hosting events at pubs, cinemas and even nightclubs. Hell...some of them are even men! I spoke to Craig Carruthers, half of the two-man team that responsible for I Knit London.
I started by asking Craig the rather obvious but pressing question of whether he knew many other knitting men when he took up the habit:
Craig: I first learned to knit, aged 7, when my mum taught myself and my brother. I didn't know anyone else who knit back then (except my grans), no-one at school as far as I remember. Funnily enough I wasn't very creative so after a year or two I just forgot how to do it. It was only when Gerard (my partner) decided he wanted to start up a knitting group in 2005 that I decided to pick up needles again. There are lots of blokes who do it these days, not just Gerard and myself. We have a men's knit night at I Knit London every Friday and we've got a core group of about 5 or 6 regulars with others popping in now and then.
Follow the jump for the rest of the interview.
Crafty Crafty: You knit in a lot of interesting places and socialise as you do it...has knitting actually improved your social life?
Craig: Knitting IS my social life! Now we have the shop we open til 9pm most evenings so without the knitting group on a Wednesday we really wouldn't get out much. We are doing a residency and knitting project at Duckie, a nightlcub every Saturday in Vauxhall and it's the first time I've been out past midnight in ages! The great thing about knitting is that it's somehting you can do anywehere. There are lots of crafts that require more equipment, but knitting and crochet can be taken anywhere. There's no reason not to do it in the pub - we've never really understood why some folk think it's odd.
Crafty Crafty: How many members does I Knit London now have, and what's the average turnout for a meet?
Craig: Membership of the mailing list, and those who receive our weekly newsletter is now over 1000. Thankfully, they don't all come to the meetings (although wouldn't that be great!). The number of people who come differs from week to week. The most, I think was about 45, and the least 6! One thing we have noticed is that, without fail, EVERY meeting includes at least one knitter who has never been before - we don't want to become an exclusive clique so that's a nice thing to remember!
Crafty Crafty: What knitting events have you got in the pipeline, and which are you most looking forward to?
Craig: I'm really looking forward to Without You I'm Knitting, our Saturday night sessions at Duckie in July. I'm dubious about how many clubbers will be up for some knitting but I think it'll be a laugh, at least. Perhaps the most exciting thing is an event we are organising later this year - we have been contacted by one of the biggest names in knitting to host an event around her new book, with exhibitors, vendors, workshops etc all about knitting. It's not confirmed so I can't say much about it...but keep your eyes peeled for this one. We hope it will be an annual event on the knitting calendar.
Crafty Crafty: You opened your shop in September. How is business going?
Craig: Business is good, but hard work. Gerard and I both still have our other full-time jobs, so I Knit London takes up all of our spare time. Running the knitting group itself is enough to keep anyone busy, but add to that the events organisation, the shop and the general day-to-day running of the business and you'll find we make the most of the free time we get! We call ourselves a sanctuary as well as a shop because it's not about making money, it's about giving knitters a place to hang out, a place to meet other crafty folk and a place to get inspired.
Crafty Crafty: What is the age and experience range in your group?
Craig: It's a cliché but really we have knitters of all shapes, sizes, age and experience. I suppose our youngest member is Finn, he's about 12 and he settles down on our sofa at the shop on regular occasions to make pom-poms! We recently gave him Lucinda Guy's Kids Learn To KNit book, a set of needles, and some yarn to get him started on the knitting. Our oldest....who knows? We have a friend, Tom, who learned to knit at school and started again when he first came to our group...with a break of over 50 years in between. Funny that they are both men actually; I never noticed that before!
Crafty Crafty: Which project were you personally most pleased with - any pics?
Craig: I tend not to finish things (many a knitter will tell you the same!) so anything I've actualy finished I am very proud of! I actually think my lilttle Pet Shop Boy (left) is something I'm pleased with because I've never done shaping like that before. I am usually more interested in objects, or large arty pieces than garments, probably because the choice of patterns for men are pretty dull.