Wielding knitting needles for the betterment of masculinity? Sounds good to me.
Especially in a world that likes to stereotype, finds it easier to assume that dealing in skeins of dyed yarn, doilies, afghan blankets and forever misshapen chunky sweaters is strictly the trade of grannies with inflamed knuckles, nesting expectant mothers and housewives glazing over before their afternoon soaps.
We shouldn’t be so quick to deem such handicraft so feminine. Royal courts were fantastically outfitted for centuries by dexterous male tailors, while their fisherman counterparts constantly darned their torn and tangled nets into good repair to feed port cities and well beyond.
Qué suerte that there’s a troop of guys in Santiago de Chile knitting and purling in public to remind us that men and tight needlework are far from mutually exclusive. Hombres Tejedores is a collective of gentlemen from all kinds of career backgrounds, twenty-somethings and not-twenty-for-quite-a-while-somethings that find pleasure in knitting and solidarity in a common hobby. Together, in suits and ties, bandanas and t-shirts and facial hair, they pass afternoons knitting for all to see in airy parks and markets, have staged ‘knit-in’ interventions at museums of fine art and offer increasingly popular workshops for other men and young boys curious to join their fast-fast fingered ranks.
Their message(s) is (are) a breath of fresh air inside and outside the craft room. It’s okay for dudes, scratch that, everyone, to find satisfaction and tranquility in fashioning softly unique items with the hands and heart. Masculinity isn’t defined by devotion to a sports club or a sports car, by one’s ability to lift dumbbells or toss back lager. There’s peaceable, creative, community-building means for combatting how others are wont to narrowly define us.
It’s about much more than bright and touchable infinity scarves, slouchy beanies and homemade socks; much, much more than the differences between knitting and embroidering, crocheting, weaving and sewing.
It’s about breaking apart gender-based dogmas, blending up what’s considered high and low art, stitching together a tolerant and inclusive era. Just watch below how representatives of the group carried out a quietly poignant performance at Santiago’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes this past November, and see what honest enthusiasm, camaraderie and spun wool can do.