January 18, 2006
Ribs, Purls and Beer at NY Men’s Knitting Night
By Sharon Reich
NEW YORK -- If you're stuck for entertainment in New York on a Friday night, and as long as you're man enough, try learning to rib at "Boyz Nite" at a Greenwich Village venue from 9 until late.
That's rib as in knitting the cuff of your sweater.
Knit New York, a wool and craft store in Lower Manhattan, is fighting the stereotype that knitting is the province of women. "Are you strong enough to knit and man enough to purl?" says an advertisement for Boyz Nite on the shop's Web site.
The store draws dozens of men to its weekly men's night where beginners and experts gather to exchange tips over beer and hot dogs.
"Believe me, we love women," said store manager Josh Bennett. "But it's like when guys get together to watch a football game, they have all that in common so there's that sense of excitement. After a long week, you can come and work on your project have a couple of beers and hang out."
"Do you know how to rib?" he asks a group of learners on a recent Friday evening. "Go ahead and knit the first two stitches, you always want to give it a nice tug," he says.
"Now when you purl, what's the most important thing? That your yarn's in front. You want to go right between the legs," he says, drawing the yarn between the two knitting needles.
A cosmetics salesman from a nearby store was offering samples of avocado moisturizer along with skin care tips, and conversation ranged from knitting triumphs to dating disasters.
But Bennett said Boyz Nite was not a singles night for gay men. "It's not a dating thing at all," he said, adding that plenty of heterosexual men were keen knitters. "I haven't met anybody. I don't mix work and dating."
"A lot of boyfriends will schedule a classes for themselves and their girlfriends on their first date," Bennett said. "And I made a bikini pattern for a guy who wanted to knit a bikini for his girlfriend."
Bennett said his grandmother taught him to knit when he was a child but he stopped for years "because boys don't knit."
MAN ENOUGH TO PURL?
A sign on the street outside invites passersby to come in and bring their own beer: "Boyz Nite. 9 pm - ?? BYOB."
Seasoned knitter Bryan Bridges has no hang-ups about men who knit, describing with pride an Afghan that he made for his nephew. "He drags it around everywhere now," he said.
Bridges says he knits to relax. "I've tried meditation and it feels like I'm wasting my time. This is meditative and relaxing but I produce something out of it."
Michael Rasmussen, an Internet marketer, confessed his mother and grandmother had laughed when he told them about his new hobby. "Neither one of them can knit so I think it kind of impresses them," he said.
Christian Sumner, a photographer who was starting work on a pale purple scarf, said knitting relieved the stress of life in New York. "I like to knit, I like beer and I eat hot dogs a lot anyway," he said.
Sumner, who has family in Florida, said: "My mom and dad were skeptical at first but they saw the first scarf that I made and they were kind of into it," he said. "Everybody in Florida is getting a scarf next year. They're all getting scarfs and mittens."
(Additional reporting by Samira Nanda and Claudia Parsons)