Wednesday 29 July 2015

A Q&A with Mad Man Knitter - Gregory Patrick

A few months ago I shared a story called A little brown bear saves a mad man knitter - which was about a man called Gregory Patrick; writer of popular blog Mad Man Knitting. Gregory had come upon hard times and was made homeless. With no car, home or money he threw himself into knitting to keep his mind occupied. He then began knitting and selling bears which enabled him to survive, and over time, flourish. Gregory has now published several books, and his little bears and knitting patters are well in demand. As a keen follower of his blog, I was interested to know more about Gregory, so I got in touch to see if he'd be interested in a little Q&A session with me, and as he's such a nice man of course he agreed :-) 

Photograph by Mad Man Knitting.

On men and knitting ...

Hi Gregory! OK so tell us ... why and when did you first pick up a pair of knitting needles and try your hand at knitting?
Well, there was a sweater at J. Crew I wanted, but couldn't afford. I was not going to be denied so I learnt how to make that sweater myself!

Knitting was originally a male-only occupation back in the 1500’s … it’s such a methodical craft yet male knitters seem to be in short supply nowadays. Why do you think that is? 
I think the majority of men still consider it a feminine based craft, possibly because of its association with nurturing. Even in the gay community I get strange looks. It's a shame that our gender should determine our interests, but sadly, men are still controlled by their odd desire to look powerful and dominant and knitting shreds that image. I think well rounded men who can cook and build a shed seem much more interesting to both men and women. You look more self sufficient. You look like you can do anything.

What would be your advice to men that are interested in the idea of knitting?
You can take two approaches to knitting. One is the more meditative approach. You can find yourself in a sense of calm contemplation while knitting, which helps out the soul and general health on so many levels. The other approach is the ability to craft and build anything at all you can. Socks, sweaters, beer cosies? 

Have have you ever thought of starting a knitting club for guys? 
You know, I have thought about it. But, I'd want it to be something truly on the opposite end of the knitting, again to give it balance. For instance, at a pub. When you're not knitting, you're taking your hand at darts. We'd have rounds of beer, pub grub on the table, and knit up awesome things for the ladies (or fellas) in our lives.

Photograph by Mad Man Knitting

For the love of bears ...

You’ve been making and selling bears for sometime now. Why bears? What made you knit that very first bear? 
I knit it for a romantic partner who was going to rescue me from the woods. I had been living out there, twenty miles from town with no car, no money, very little food and was basically stuck. So, valentines day came around and I knit him a teddy bear ..... and when he didn't show up, and told me he never was going to come get me, I nearly threw it on the fire with his other things. But, I didn't. The Bear's pouty face begged me not to. Instead, I sold it online. I knit another one and another one and I realised I had found my key to getting out of homelessness.

I love your bears, they are simply adorable -  I know you’re going to cease making them yourself soon due to an injury, but can we still put an order in now?
Sure! I'll be knitting up bears until 16 Feb 2016. That will be my 5 year anniversary from the first bear I sold. It's a nice solid long run. But, my left arm, no matter how much I try, just doesn't work like it used to. And besides, it's time to look into doing other things in the knitting world. Perhaps start an online magazine for men? Who knows? 

I really enjoyed your blog post about when you were sat knitting in Starbucks and a couple of policeman approached, could you tell us the story? 
I was knitting when some cops on their way out of the Starbucks stopped to ask what I was doing. They were having a discussion about what kind of craft it was because they had never seen someone use 4 needles before. When I told them It was knitting, they commented they thought it was, but wasn't sure. I told them I could handle 4 needles because I was a knitting ninja :) They busted out laughing, thought it was hilarious, and asked me if I ever needed back up, to let them know. They were very positive, very cool cops.

My handmade bear - knitting pattern from Mad Man Knitting

On writing books ...

You’ve just published a new book. Can you tell us what’s it about?  
"Slip, Slip, Knit" is actually the collection of blog posts that I wrote from the very beginning, back to before I was knitting teddy bears. It begins with me exiled out there, not sure what to do, lonely and trying to figure out what to do to save myself. The final post is 4 years later when I say that my time knitting teddy bears is coming to a close. So, you see this day by day account of being homeless, to knitting the teddy bears, to getting a little money, to finally having a place of my own in the city while getting quite a bit of attention from the knitting community. I think its a very inspiring book because it captures in real time the emotions and actions of a man who was being saved by his craft.

They say everyone has at least one book in them - and in many cases, I think people would like to write a book but they are daunted by it, or they don’t know where to start. Any advice? 
Your life matters. Every individual has a great story to tell about their life. By all means, just begin writing about your life. Don't have a system, don't have a flow, don't follow a technique. Sit down and start "talking" to yourself as though the two of you had never met. You'd be surprised at what you learn about who you are. 

You choose to self-publish over going through through a publisher, is that something you’d recommend? 
Absolutely. To begin with, the money is a lot better. You get a better percentage of royalty. And the second reason is control. I know what I want the book to look like, feel like, sound like. I love suggestions, but the bottom line is my name on the project. Even if its a flop, I find a great amount of success in knowing I wrote the book and packaged it precisely the way I wanted. Someone once said that self publishing was a nightmare because we needed the big publishing houses to sift through the junk and find us what was good. I take severe umbrage. That's too subjective to personal opinion. Why don't you let the world give us their art, and let us decide whats good or not, based on merit and not on marketability.

You’ve been writing your blog for quite sometime now and you’ve managed to build up quite a following - when it comes to selling your bears and your books, do you think your blog has played a big part in your success.
Oh yes! Yes! That was the marriage between the two. People really enjoy following my blog and reading about my life, and the teddy bears was a way of holding that story, to be a part of it. 

If you ever visit the UK, will you please come to our town and teach our men to knit?
Hell yes! But, like I said, well do it at a pub to make the fellas feel a little more comfortable :)

Mad Mad Knitting

If you'd like to buy one of Gregory's books or 
purchase a beautiful hand knitted bear / knitting pattern, simply click the link above.

JM x

Photograph by Mad Man Knitting - Gregory Patrick

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

No comments:

Post a Comment