Boys Don’t Knit (In Public)

Did you know libraries exist?

On Sunday, I drove halfway to Barnes & Noble, before I recalled the two hours my husband and I spent going over the new budget. (It was awful in case you’re wondering. Being a grownup is stupid.) I sighed and decided that fondling the new paperbacks would just make me sad, so I turned around and went home. But then a miracle happened as I drove away from the mall, I remembered there is a place that will let you borrow books FOR FREE.

FREEEEEEEEEEE

I’d like to tell you  I dusted off my library card and totally remembered where they keep my favorite genre of books, but those would be bold-faced lies. I haven’t been inside a library since we moved to the suburbs of Philly. I had to fill out a new application and as a nerd, I was a little disappointed in myself.

Once I had my temporary card in hand, I wandered around, mad with book-borrowing power, and stumbled upon the greatest book of all time. Alright, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but as a knitter, who thinks the world would be a better place if we all just shared a cup of coffee over a pair of clicking needles and blue faced leicester yarn, it hit me right in the feels. Please let me introduce you to the book everyone should read, Boys Don’t Knit by T. S. Easton.

After an incident regarding a crossing guard and a bottle of Martini & Rossi (and his friends), 17-year-old worrier Ben Fletcher must develop his sense of social alignment, take up a hobby, and do some community service to avoid any further probation.

He takes a knitting class (it was that or his father’s mechanic class) with the impression that it’s taught by the hot teacher all the boys like. Turns out, it’s not. Perfect.

Regardless, he sticks with it and comes to discover he’s a natural knitter, maybe even great. It also helps ease his anxiety and worrying. The only challenge now is to keep it hidden from his friends, his crush, and his soccer-obsessed father. What a tangled web Ben has weaved . . . or knitted.

While filled with deadpan humor, irreverence, and yarn-y goodness, the thing that really struck me about “Boys Don’t Knit” was the main characters anxiety. It’s no secret that I crocheted my way through a difficult situation or that studies have shown knitting and crochet relieve stress, but to see a Young Adult novel normalizing knitting as way for teen boys to deal with their anxiety… Well, it made my heart swell.

“I’m starting to think that maybe knitting has healing powers greater than I ever imagined.” ~ Ben Fletcher

There was a time that I had my own proverbial “box of shame” hidden under my bed filled with yarn, crochet hooks, and yarncrafting magazines. As a teenager and then an early twenty-something, I didn’t advertise my love of yarn (unless I was at a craft show where elderly women thought my pursuit of crochet was a noble venture). At the time, it was still considered a hobby for expectant mothers or grandmas. While we’ve made a lot of headway since then, there’s still a distinct lack of guy knitters and crocheters out there. Every time I stumble upon one on Instagram or one joins the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry, I want to high-five them. They give me hope, and so does this novel.

Besides my knee-jerk reaction to squeee about the book’s social implications or it promoting knitting as a way to deal with anxiety, “Boys Don’t Knit” is a fun and sometimes tawdry novel. I devoured it in one day. There were a couple of fact-checking mistakes regarding knitting, but overall, it hit the nail on the head. While Ben Fletcher itched to get home and hide in his room with his knitting, I wished I had mastered the art of knitting and reading at the same time. Let’s just say, it was good I finished it early enough in the evening that I was able to spend a few hours with my own needles before bedtime came.

T. S. Easton’s Boys Don’t Knit hit U.S. shelves a few months ago, but has been available in the UK for a while. They already have access to the second book, An English Boy in New York, and I’m insanely jealous. I neeeeeeeed it.

~ Jac
“To me knitting is many things. A creative outlet, a mental challenge. I can knit on my own, losing myself in the work, in the pattern. Or I can knit with friends, chatting and putting the world to rights. I don’t think it makes me less of a man. It’s no different to carpentry or being a painter or an architect or a chef. It’s using your hands with skill and creativity. It just needs some better PR.” – Ben Fletcher

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