This is Lewis Ryan (Lewy). Lewy loves knitting and has an addiction to Yarn. His background is in fine art which he studied at University, graduating in 2001. Since then he has worked as a graphic designer and web developer, then for the last six years a Marketing Director for a lighting company. At the start of May 2016 he decided to take the plunge and live his dream, setting up a Yarn and Knitting business (ManKnit) so he could spend each day doing what he loves! Lewy also loves felting, photography, leather-work, painting, drawing, pottery, and wood-working. He's the singer and front man for The Rolling Down Hills (An original indie folk band).
When he's not knitting, felting or making art or music, Lewy can be found camping and hiking with his Border Terrier Ted.
Lewy lives in Barnsley in Yorkshire, where the ManKnit business is based.
It's a fact that today the numbers of male knitters are small when compared to female knitters. Somewhere along the line it has become mainly a female pastime. There are a slowly growing number of male knitters and knitting designers and to their credit they are addressing the balance.
The challenges of being a male knitter
Being a knitter myself I know the questions and amusement of people when they see a male knitter. I've knitted in cafés and on trains and had complete strangers say to me "Why are you knitting? that's for women". I've been at business networking meetings recently and when I've told people what my business does, they seem shocked, saying things like "How did you get into that!?". I've been at busy knitting shows and have been pushed out of the way by elderly women to get to the yarn (As if to say, what is this fella doing getting in the way?). I don't mind all that - I can understand it (who doesn't want to top up their yarn stash?) however I do want to point out that it's not just the ladies that love to knit.
Addressing the Stereotype
When I set up ManKnit I wanted to try and address that stereotype and try and help adjust the balance a little. I'm 6'2" with (at the time of writing) a foot long beard (That's me above). As well as knitting, art and music, I adore the wilderness - camping, hiking, canoeing and rock climbing, but even with all that I don't think knitting could ever be seen as macho in any way (not that I want it to). I love to Knit, I love 100% wool yarns (especially breed specific), I rather like itchy and hard wearing wool jumpers (one I use extensively when hiking and camping, a100% Herdwick hand-knit which is better than any of the modern man-made material jackets I've previously owned), I love quality knitting needles and accessories and I'm delighted when I find an old 1930s men's jumper pattern in a charity shop. I'd say I'm no different to any other knitter, I have my likes and dislikes in the materials I use but I'm passionate about knitting and think more men can and should knit.
The ManKnit Brand
With ManKnit I want to create a brand that'll stop men being fearful of the criticisms that come with a man picking up the knitting bug. No it's not boxing, or rugby, or spoon whittling in the great out doors... but I believe a man can knit and still be manly. The colourways of the yarns are subtle and mostly natural, so as to appeal to the male knitter (or wearer). The ManSticks knitting needle sets (Coming Soon) are sturdy and javelin like (but light weight and warm to the touch). Our button sets are handmade from tree branches and designed to appeal to the inner lumberjack.
All that being said, the ManKnit products are not designed solely for men, yes they're designed to be robust, hard wearing and will last a lifetime, but they are designed for all knitters - Okay I've called the ManKnit knitting needles ManSticks... but It's a brand, and a brand I hope you come to love and trust no matter of gender. My aim is for exceptional quality and a quirky brand that you love to love - I want you to be delighted each and every time you use a ManKnit product or wear a garment made with ManKnit Yarn.
I hope you all (both male and female) love the ManKnit brand and the products I've designed and I hope to see more male knitters pick up the hobby in the future.
For male knitters - I'd love to hear your stories of reactions to your hobby, is it just me that has been beaten up by an elderly yarn addict? Female knitters - I'd love to hear your opinions on male knitting, what do you think we can do to get more male knitters to be proud of the fact they knit?