No longer needles in a haystack
BY MICHELE SCHWARTZ
Michele Schwartz is a freelance writer.
May 1, 2005
about poker night or the local pub: Boys' night out for one group of
guys revolves around a casual evening of camaraderie, a few drinks and
Every Friday night, the men meet up for Boyz
Nite, a weekly hangout sponsored by Knit New York, a Manhattan knitting
store and cafe on East 14th Street. There, they gather to catch up with
one another, greet new faces, sip some wine or beer, and, yes, knit. At
9 p.m. sharp one recent night, employee and knit instructor Vanessa
Theriault politely asked the store's patrons, all female, to leave and
announced that Boyz Nite had officially commenced.
One of the
first to arrive was John Shrader, 41, of Westchester, who began coming
in October. "It's a nice feeling of belonging and being able to share
with people of the same sex the same nontraditional thing," said
Shrader, who learned to knit from his grandmother when he was 10. A
husky man with graying hair and a goatee, he was working on a
forest-green swatch pattern of two intertwined trees for a spring
An alternative to the loud and boisterous bar scene,
Boyz Nite began in the fall of 2004 as a laid-back place for men to
socialize and meet other people with the same interests, including, but
not limited to, knitting. Starting with just four or five men, Friday
nights have grown to include about 30 people. The event officially ends
at 11 p.m. but sometimes has been known to last a bit later.
men, ranging in age from their early 20s to 40s, relax and chat around
tables while working on sweaters, socks, scarves and other projects.
While the crowd is predominantly gay, it does not exclude straight men
and welcomes first-time knitters as well the advanced. The men are free
to bring in their own projects or can buy patterns and materials from
the shop. The only prerequisites for attendants are that they be male
and willing to wield a knitting needle.
Newcomer David Kaley,
29, has decided to try his hand at it. "I always wanted to learn
knitting," said Kaley, a costume designer from the Upper East Side. "I
taught myself quilting a couple of years ago and came down tonight," he
said. With the help of Rob, a New York University student and Boyz Nite
regular, Kaley chose Uruguayan wool yarn in jungle green. Theriault and
Rob sat down with Kaley to teach him the basics and get him started.
"I'm making a scarf, apparently," he said with a laugh.
a comfortable and secure atmosphere that encourages men to indulge in
their creative side is what Boyz Nite is all about. Friends and
knitting enthusiasts Harlan Pruden and Gary Boston try their best to
meet that goal. Both men have been coming for several months and put
together a knitting listserve for men, encouraged new recruits by
passing out flyers and telling people about the event and have even
organized knitting field trips. They said Boyz Nite is a refreshing
opportunity for men who want to knit - an activity that has been
considered mainly a female hobby.
"It's something I started very
privately, on my own, and now it's become a group thing," said Boston,
36, a self-taught knitter. After his sister gave him an instruction
book, Boston was soon hooked. "I loved it," he said. "It's meditative."
online, Boston was frustrated by the lack of knitting resources for
men. He also had a few bad experiences at other yarn shops in the city.
In one instance, Boston asked a saleswoman a question about a knitting
project. She crisply replied that maybe he should send in whoever was
doing it to ask, assuming that Boston himself couldn't be the knitter.
was elated to find Boyz Nite. "It wasn't shocking for men to be
knitting," he said. With ponchos and capes such a big craze, he and the
others agreed there has been a renewed interest in knitting that is
catching on among a wider circle of people. "It's a reinvention of
tradition," said Joseph Mazzarelli, 22, of the West Village. "People
are taking boring old knitting and adding boys," he said, proudly
holding up a dark plum, somewhat uneven scarf.
knitting novice Kaley concentrated intently as he hooked stitches onto
a needle. When asked about his progress, Kaley paused for a moment to
shout a hearty "Good," and gave a thumb's up. So far, he had learned to
knit, pearl, and do both techniques in the same row. "I just finished
my second row," Kaley said with a beaming smile. Would he come back for
another night then? "Oh, absolutely," he said.
Copyright (c) 2005, Newsday, Inc.
This article originally appeared at:
Visit Newsday online at http://www.newsday.com