Real men do knit.

IMG_0900 knitting

There used to be a popular show on TV featuring men wrestling. It wasn’t real wrestling but more a show made especially for those that seem to get satisfaction watching glistening muscled men beating the s..t out of each other,  extolling cruelty to the point of whereby the audience at home, in the comfort of their armchairs, would ask themselves if the intention was to kill each other. The oiled wrestlers would end standing high on the ring wires and hurl themselves on each other with such force one expected entrails to fly about. But no, not a single death ever shown on TV. In the life audience there would be almighty booing and egging on the wrestlers to even greater heights of murderous intent.

The odd thing was the surveys showing that it were women who seemed to get the most joy out of this pantomime wrestling. My friend’s mother was proof of it. Of all the shows I found her watching on TV, it was the wrestling that she would not miss out for all the money in the world. Perhaps there is contained within this TV cruelty, watched by some women a nefarious delight that men get what they deserved all along; are men not the war mongers, the wife beaters, the unfaithful animals often ruled by their one eyed, hooded but rampant genital? Perhaps men beating up men added an extra poignancy for the lady watchers seeing they did not have to do it.

As the days of the Covid-19 keep on passing, the demand on relationship counselling is at a peak. Hundreds of callers are queueing up on the Beyond Blue mental health line, suicides are up. Many women live in fear what will come next. Husbands are out of work, cooped up with families, unable to relieve their anxiety, hopelessness seeps in and with their often superior muscles, lash out. But it are the women, many of whom are rearing children doing the domestic work, spending most of their lives being ‘cooped’ up willingly and often happily. What is that men so easily let fly? Is it proof that women are stronger and much more resilient?

The picture below shows the period in France during the reign of Maximillian Robespierre with his penchant for executing hundreds of fellow citizens during the Reign of Terror 1793/1794. His excuse was to free France of its monarchy but in doing so he had to take drastic measures and heads would roll in the cane baskets. In those days there was no TV but that did not stop keen viewers from watching the procedures.

Une Exécution capitale, place de la Révolution, painting by Pierre-Antoine Demachy

History tells us, often in gory details, that Robespierre fought for the common man against the iron fisted monarchy whose Kings enlisted men for armies and wars. It were the women that Robespierre really wanted to liberate from this Royal tyranny. He did become the favourite leader who would take France to freedom and a republic. During the revolution, it was no wonder that during the beheadings of Robespierre’s enemies, the women were lining up in front rows watching the rolling of heads into the baskets. Many would queue early to get the best seats and take the knitting with them. At the height of the guillotine’s work it was rumoured a head would roll for every 6 rows of straight knitting. ( 50 stitches on the 5 mill needle)

The French word for a female knitter is tricoteuse. It is often used as a historical nickname for women knitters sitting beside the executioner working the guillotine  flat out separating heads from the prisoners, supposedly knitting during public executions in the French revolution.

We all know that Robespierre himself would fall victim to the guillotine the year after. So, is there a link between the tricoteuses of the 1790’s in France and preferences of females watching male wrestling on TV?

As an aside, I have taken the decision to start up my knitting again. The last time I did it was when about 12 years of age. I find it surprisingly interesting and very soothing. I just straight knit, so no pearling yet, but that might still come. I use 4 millimetres needles and a mixture of yarn 50/50 nylon to wool. The lockdown does force one to come up with solutions to pass time, and I suppose the knitting is one pastime that is fairly easy to do and one makes something at the same time.

I intend to make a throw rug.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

30 Responses to “Real men do knit.”

  1. GP Cox Says:

    Rosie Greer preferred needlepoint. But both are great for reducing stress.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Alien Resort Says:

    I still know how to darn socks.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that art has gone away for many. Knitting socks and then darning them when they wear out, was normal.
      My mum knitted our underwear when we were kids. A bit itchy though.

      Liked by 2 people

    • auntyuta Says:

      At primary school I was taught how to darn socks. Actually, I think I became rather competent at it. The socks, when I grew up, needed constant darning. So, I soon became sick of it. I think, that these days socks do not need darning any more, is real progress! 🙂
      It amazes me, that as a 9 year old, I was able to knit a pair of socks with suitable instruction by a teacher that is. 🙂
      No way could I repeat these days anything like it!


      • Alien Resort Says:

        They probably don’t sell much darning cotton nowadays. I always liked to use those bigger needles for all sewing jobs–easier to thread and work with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        We now throw away socks that are still perfectly alright except for a hole here and there that could easily be fixed by darning. I can’t remember when I bought socks last.

        I do darn my socks and when they get beyond darning I use them to polish my shoes.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yvonne Says:

    I believe it was men who first did knitting, we women tagged along. It’s a wonderful thing to do for any age, any gender.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I was told that men were the original knitters. Sheepherders to while the time would start to look fondly at the sheep they were herding wondering what they could do,… and started to make things from the wool that the sheep would shed naturally. I suppose knitting is a form of knotting as well.
      I knit a row now each time I have time on my hand.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yvonne Says:

        There was a fellow from one of the Scandinavian countries who wrote a blog and showed what he knit. He was amazing! He even knit some booties, a sweater and hat for a royal baby in his country!

        Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I would not mind knitting bras or undies for a lovely smiling princess but cut me out knitting for Scomo or Dutton.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    OOH! A throw-rug! Cool!
    YAY for knitting some of my family and friends knit and crochet…but I’ve never learned. I do do (HA! I said “do do”! 😉 😀 ) needlepoint, quilting, cross-stitch, embroidery, etc. 🙂

    I must ponder the answer to your last question.
    As a female I have never enjoyed watching wrestling or boxing…and I’m weirded out that anyone would like to sit and view an execution. 😦 Even it was the execution of someone who hurt or killed someone I loved…it would bring me NO closure to see them executed for their crimes. I guess I’m weird. (I’m a lover, not a fighter. “Make love, not war.” 🙂 )

    In the Old West (1800’s) in America the families would have picnics before watching the hangings. 😦

    It has been so sad during the pandemic, and isolation/quarantine, that people who were already being abused are now “captive” with their abusers. 😦 Scary. 😦
    If we have safe place to live we are so fortunate.

    Great post, Gerard!
    (((HUGS))) 🙂
    PATS and RUBS to Milo! 🙂
    PS…maybe you could name your throw-rug “Robespierre” ???

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Carolyn. A rug would be nice.
      I have to do it a bit at a time. Each stitch is part of the whole and it is amazing how this single stitch repeated will finally make a garment of use.

      England too had audiences during executions which were heralded around the town by the town criers. They became public spectacles. This was during the times when internet and texting were still at their infancy.

      I just listened to the news and it now is of great concern that domestic violence is reported at three times the normal rates. There are growing numbers of elderly that report abuse by their partners, mainly males. For years we have praised our love of privacy, and yet this obsession with privacy is being used by the abusers to avoid detection.

      Living on my own makes it difficult to be abusive, I don’t easily hit my own face. And my knitting is one way of staying calm and serene. Cooking is another one, as is writing my blog and texting, face booking, tweeting and being disciplined enough to tidy up, do the dishes, wash clothes and so much more…
      Hugs too. (That helps too)

      Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      pierre is a great name for my rug. Thanks for pointing it out. Very funny too.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. freefall852 Says:

    I have always suspected those knitting shorthand patterns in the Woman’s Weekly of being a KGB spy-code inserted by the likes of Ita
    “p2sso: Pass 2 slipped stitch over –insert point of left needle into front of first then second slipped stitches on right needle, lift these stitches and place over first stitch on right needle.

    rem: Remain or remaining

    rep: Repeat

    RS: Right side

    skpo: Slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over

    sl: Slip” …..”

    If THAT isn’t some sort of spy-vs-spy drop-box code, then nothing is!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. auntyuta Says:

    These ” knitting shorthand patterns” that you quote, Joe, look much too complicated for me. Some 60 years ago, I struggled with some very simple patterns. Maybe, if the pattern is very simple, the yarn and the needles extremely thick, I could take up some knitting up again, oh yea, just for relaxation!! 🙂
    Thanks, Gerard, for this very well written post! 🙂
    The French Revolution and the behaviour of ‘normal’ people then and now can give us a lot to think about . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I think the original lesson in knitting was taught by my mother who used those wooden cotton reels in which 4 nails had been partially hammered in.

      It was then a simple way of knotting a length of wool over the first nail and repeat ad infinitum to the next nail and soon a kind of worm would appear and come out on the other side of this wooden reel.

      It was such a surprise and joy to behold as a five year old. It was such a discovery. It might well have been the spark that ignited my art and curiosity. It’s all art really.

      It beats watching heads roll into buckets, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sandie Says:

    Good for you Gerard and it will keep you lovely and warm as well. I remember a jeweller from years ago . He was a big burly Londoner who was in Sydney but he knitted those big sweaters with the patterns on them. Meanwhile to keep the boredom at a distance, I have been quilting.Keeps me out of trouble!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I know of your creative art works too, Dear Sandie. I wonder how many of your quilted art works have blessed conjugal beds throughout Australia with kindly loves and (sometimes) heated battles?


  8. rangewriter Says:

    Thank you for that most excellent little history lesson about Robespierre. I knew absolutely nothing about the knitting connection. So, is that you in the photo? Which of your fine friends snapped that fun shot? Our university is very proud of its football team. A few years ago, while the team was racking up 100% winning seasons and playing some real exciting championship ball, the beloved young quarterback could be seen knitting scarfs on the sidelines. He started quite a fad here in Boise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that’s me and looking somewhat anxious in case I would drop a stitch.
      Glad to hear of the real men in Boise taking up knitting with gusto. Breaking into sport armed with knitting needles and yarn by a quarterback must have been a great sight.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. algernon1 Says:

    Of course the wrestling was just acting. The Greek and Italian wrestlers would say something in their mother tongues to the delight I guess of that audience My grandmother was one of them.

    Now early years could be brutal times. I’ve taken up tracing the Family History during this lockdown. Ancestors of my wife were dispossessed of their land for backing King James II, had to go into exile in France.

    Unsure if any knitted though

    Liked by 1 person

  10. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, tracing ancestry has become very popular. A lot of that can actually be achieved through the National Library who, I believe hold details of all names and backgrounds dating back at least 6 generations. The Genetic tests that are advertising isn’t all that necessary.
    Yes, those wrestling shows on TV were at the time of ‘Pick a Box’ with that American ‘Dolly’. The flintstones were earlier on.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Off with the head as someone said many years. Frankly, those folks were quite barbaric and I surely hope so called civil nations never revert back to those days. Anyhow, I don’t look at my email for days now, having lost the interest for the need to delete an untold number of emails since there is no need to keep them around and I can’t find a way to get detached from many that I no longer want. I am commenting on only a few of my favorite bloggers now since I have lost motivation to post. I understand that the format is different now and I am not keen to have look to see if I can figure how to maneuver the new set up.

    Knitting looks like fun and at the very least it is a good outlet for your mind and to keep it active. A rug will surely be nice, especially one that you have created yourself.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you for being so nice to reply to my posts that are also becoming less in quantity. I am keeping up with my friends in the real blood and flesh more than on-line. In time, they will also disappear.

      Yes,Yvonne, The knitting is surprisingly soothing and relaxing. I am now thinking to change it into a scarf for winter. It is a multicolored all from the same balls of yarns.

      Milo, my Jack Russell is neck on neck with me when it comes to age, both of us could be called sprightly now. He has become deaf but still keeps an eye on me. So nice to have a loyal friend who doesn’t judge or is malicious.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: