Author, Bust magazine editor and hip yarn crafter Debbie Stoller comes to the Main Library (210 E. 400 South) on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. to discuss her books, the most recent being Son of Stitch ‘N Bitch, a guide to knitting and crocheting for men.
Why not? It’s really relaxing, it’s really enjoyable, and you make things.
With only two stitches, how do you get so many different effects?
That’s kind of miraculous, isn’t it? And in fact, there is only one stitch. The two stitches are just two different ways of looking at the stitches. In one case, you’re pulling a loop through another loop and in another case, you’re pushing a loop through another loop. One’s being pulled to the front and one’s being pushed to the back. I don’t know. Some really brilliant people, men and women of the past, have come up with all kinds of awesome things to do with them.
What brought you into the craft?
My mom’s from Holland; I spent a lot of time there. Dutch people are practically born with some kind of needle and thread in their hands. So I learned to do all kinds of needlework from them. Knitting was the one that I really hated up until about eight years ago. I kept trying it and hating it. And then I was on a three-day train trip with nothing to do but work on this sweater that had been tormenting me for five years. For some reason, all of sudden, it clicked. And I’ve been obsessed ever since.
Did knitting inform your feminist views, or the other way around?
I’m a cultural feminist. I believe that the things that women have historically done—which is all of women’s domestic work from taking children to the zoo to needlecrafts—are not valued as much as things that men have traditionally done. I’d like to try and change that. There is no reason that knitting should be thought of any less than playing soccer—for both men and women. It comes out of my desire for knitting to get more value and respect in the culture.
Most people have no idea how much time it takes to knit something.
People don’t really imagine the time it took because those who have never knit something have no idea how much time it took. If you give someone a sweater, they may think that you made that in an evening when you were watching a half-hour sitcom. It’s only when people actually attempt to knit that they finally get this realization, this light bulb goes on over their heads, and they realize that, “Wow, this actually takes some skill and some time. I’ve got newfound respect for my grandma.” And since my book has helped get a lot more young people involved and introduced a lot more young people to these crafts, I do think that helps. Hordes of young people are starting embrace crafting as a means of relaxation and self-expression in a way that they didn’t for very many years. I do think it is getting more respect in the culture.
Our copy editor loves to knits but says he feels uncomfortable knitting in public.
It’s unfortunate. From my perspective, the stigma is that it is a “girl” thing, and guys aren’t supposed to do “girl” things because “girl” things are dumb. There is more stigma attached with a guy doing a “girl” thing than a girl doing a “guy” thing. I think that is really unfortunate. Knitting doesn’t get the respect it deserves. He should keep on keepin’ on.
If you know the basics, what are good projects to pull together in time for Christmas?
From the Stitch N’ Bitch book? The Skull Isle hat is a really great cap that has the pharaoh looking or traditional design, at first glance. But then, when you look carefully, you see that there are these intricate little skulls, kind of funny and fun. And that’s a small project. That one is quick and easy to knit up even though it has some intricate looking color work.
There is also another cap called “Half Pipe” that’s super easy. It just gets knit like a tube and you stitch a brim in there and you’re done.
I think a couple of the scarves could be accomplished in a couple of weeks or the fingerless gloves. Definitely, the hangover helper could be done.
What will people who attend your Salt Lake City lecture leave with?
I talk about this book, Son of Stitch N’ Bitch, and why I wrote it and some of things I discovered about knitting for men. It can be a little bit complicated. And then I have a huge bag of projects from the book that I lug around the country with me, and I pass those around, and they get to look at them and fondle them and touch them and squeeze them. Hopefully, they’ll be left with more ideas for how to better knit things for men that they will actually wear. Maybe they’ll even want to knit some things from the book that I show them.
Is knitted attire really fashionable?
A lot of knitwear is fashionable. It always has been. The problem is that the patterns haven’t necessarily kept up with what’s contemporary, hip and cool. I try hard to pull together patterns that are more contemporary, so that you’re knitting things without giant reindeer heads on them but instead something cool like 45 record centers or something kind of fun. There are more and more contemporary patterns coming out now. For a while, there wasn’t. There’s not very many knitting patterns available for men’s clothes. These projects in this book are all boy-tested and boy-approved. All of the designers worked with men to come up with the designs. A good number of male knitters who designed projects for the book. I also work with men to choose the projects for the book out of everything that was submitted. So, we’re hoping that we pulled together all the kinds of projects that guys will actually want to wear.
Wool or acrylic?
It all depends. I really like to knit wool. If I am making something like a stuffed whiskey bottle that’s going to be a pillow, then I would use acrylic. Usually, I like to knit wool … or cotton … or all kinds of fibers. That’s one of those things, when you’re knitting for guys, you can really indulge them. They love cashmere, silk, camelhair, alpaca—although men don’t really like their sweaters to have too much embellishment or too much fancy stuff going on, they do really enjoy luxurious fibers. That’s one place we can really spoil them.
Knitting or crochet?
I like both. I’m bi-craftual.