Knitting stereotype unravelled

22:02, Apr 15 2013
Man made: Knitting teacher Mike Dickison wonders if Kiwi blokes will take up the needles.

A Petone craft shop is setting out to encourage Kiwi blokes to swap rugby balls for balls of wool.

The Holland Road Yarn Company is hoping to destroy knitting's gender stereotypes by offering men a six-week workshop called "Man Made: a league of knitting gentlemen".

It may sound like a bit of a yarn, but it is serious business for Mike Dickison, self-professed "man knitter" and teacher of the workshop.

"I'd like to live in a country where if any guy wants to knit a bloody hat, he can," Mr Dickison said.

The idea was born after he noticed there were lots of knitting groups in New Zealand but a lack of men participating in them.

"I was always the only man in the groups."


He teamed up with Tash Barneveld, owner of Holland Road, who provided the venue and tools while he taught the classes.

Together they hoped to prove knitting was a craft for anyone to enjoy.

Being a young knitter, Ms Barneveld said she often had to break down the myths surrounding knitting.

"People think it's for old women, that there are awful patterns, scratchy yarn and it's boring," she said. "But there's actually a maths element; you use construction and design, and it's very logical."

The workshop would incorporate practical military knitting patterns from World War II with participants taught how to knit scarves, army hats and beanies.

Though they had only just begun the publicity drive for the workshop, Mr Dickison was confident he could recruit men to the cause.

"I have blind optimism that there are thousands of guys out there who want to knit but are too frightened to start."

His own foray into knitting began when he wanted a pair of knitted socks but had no-one to make them for him so decided to teach himself.

He said his new-found hobby was therapeutic and relaxing while he was living in Christchurch during the earthquakes.

"It took my mind off the constant aftershocks."

Although Mr Dickison and Ms Barneveld encouraged anyone to "give it a go", they were still unsure what type of male the knitting workshop would attract.

"I think it will be practical guys who like making stuff," Mr Dickison said. "It might be more blokey than you think."

The Man Made workshop will run from May 1 to June 5.

Classes will be held at the Holland Road Yarn Company, 281 Jackson St, Petone. Find out more on: or to make a booking contact Tash at

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