Brooklyn Boy Knits Begs the Question – Where Are All the Male Knitters?
At my desk is a DVD titled Real Men Knit: It’s Not Just Women’s Work . . . In Fact, It Never Was! I found it in the free bin at work, and I was holding on to it for chuckles on a rainy day. When I removed the cellophane and watched it, though, I found that it’s a teensy bit problematic. It has all of the weird advertising-for-men clichés about proving your manliness through sports or math and mentioning more than once that real men knit (oy). But it does tackle (perhaps even accidentally) a little bit of what the world is like for men who knit.
Knitting only recently became a gendered activity—men and women once sat side-by-side knitting socks in public, and no one thought it was weird. But now I hear stories of men getting snubbed in yarn shops and by fellow female knitters. Which, to me, is shocking to hear. But there’s a lot most of us don’t know about men who knit—the struggles or the happy moments.
Louis Boria, also known as Brooklyn Boy Knits, is a knitter whose talent was thrust into the spotlight thanks to a photo posted to Facebook by Frenchie Davis—a singer/actress best known from her spot on American Idol—that went viral. It captures Louis knitting on the subway with the caption, “This brotha on the train is my hero today…. #SelfCareOnTheSubway.”
Since the post, Louis has received an outpour of support and has had many conversations with male knitters who have reached out to him expressing their love for the craft and their fears of being judged and mistreated.
I want men to know that those fears and insecurities they may have don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the guy is a knitter, crocheter, makeup artist, hairstylist, etc. Or if a woman is a construction worker, basketball player, likes to box, coaches a little league team . . . the world can only benefit from that talent. There’s no written rule that we [have] to do certain things in life [based on gender]. We live in a time where things are constantly changing, and no one should ever fear judgment for something that they truly love to do and are passionate about. – Louis Boria, Brooklyn Boy Knits
A Knitting Dream, Realized
Louis started knitting 10 years ago after a dream where he saw his hands working with needles and yarn—as if he knew how to knit. He awoke from that dream with hands in mid-air (literally) as if caught mid-stitch. He went into work that morning and told his co-workers about his dream. And when they jokingly asked if he was going to learn, he thought, “Maybe I should.”
After work, he went to Michael’s Crafts and bought yarn and US Size 10 needles. Louis dedicated that year to learning. He first learned the long-tail cast on, then how to read patterns, then how to knit a sweater, and finally how to create his first pattern.
“What keeps me knitting is the love and support I get from my family, friends, and followers on social media,” Louis said. Brooklyn Boy Knits started in 2009 after he realized he needed a faster way to share his pieces with his fans.
“The constant texting and emailing of my pieces made me realize I needed somewhat of a look book I could redirect them to,” he says. “Brooklyn is my birth place and home that I love so much, and I wanted my city in the name of my new side business.”
Brooklyn Boy Knits provides him with a platform to give tips and advice and to share his experiences, which has given Louis a new sense of direction and new responsibilities.
He wants to get more people interested in knitting and is planning on starting a YouTube channel with tips, lessons, and conversations about what’s going on in the realm of knitting. He currently sells his handknitted scarves, hats, and adorable baby items on his Brooklyn Boy Knits website.
His dream is to open a knitting/coffee shop in Brooklyn where anyone and everyone can come shop for yarn, learn how to knit, order his custom pieces, or just hang out and have a cup of coffee.
“My goal is to change the face of knitting, not only for men, but also to show people that knitting is cool and trendy,” Louis said. “Knitting is my passion. It’s my escape from my worries and the food to my soul.”
Knitting is an activity for everyone and we, as a community, have the privilege of encouraging and teaching those who are interested. I can’t say it better than Louis: “The world can only benefit from that talent.”
Brooklyn Boy Knits on Social Media
Facebook: Brooklyn Boy Knits
Sarah Rothberg is the assistant editor for all Interweave knitting titles. She loves every dog she meets and can’t believe she gets to knit for work (sometimes).
To read the full feature on Brooklyn Boy Knits, get the knit.wear Spring/Summer 2018 issue.