Today is international men’s day and to celebrate it we thought we would talk to Instagram-famous knitter Birger Berge! He’s from Norway and he has amassed over 25,000 followers on Instagram.
It’s great to see a male knitter who has become so popular and makes some beautiful garments, so we had a chat with him about knitting and why he thinks more men should take it up!
How long have you been a knitter and why did you start?
I’ve been knitting for as long as I can remember. I didn’t do very complicated patterns and such in the beginning of course, but easier things like scarves and hats. I started because I had lots of skilled knitters in my family who made beautiful things that I also wanted to be able to make. Also, Norway is a cold country, so you can never really have enough knitted garments around. So, I told my mother that I wanted to learn, and she took on the challenge along with my grandmother, and they taught me how.
What is your favourite thing to knit and why?
Anything stranded with lots of pattern really, since there is a lot going on. The worst is long sections of stockinette or something else where the same is repeated throughout. This is why I love knitting Selbu mittens so much, since they are covered in pattern and the patterns themselves are endlessly varied.
How do you come up with inspiration for patterns?
It can be from other knitwear that I see, or colours and shapes in nature and in architecture. As I said Norway is a cold country, and people wear their knitting with pride. That means that I always get new ideas on how to use a pattern type, or apply it to something new.
What do you love most about knitting?
I simply love making something with my hands. Just being able to see something growing to a garment between my hands just using strands of yarn and humble needles is magical to me.
What would you say to men who want to take up knitting but are worried about being viewed as ‘feminine’?
I think they should consider that there is nothing feminine about knitting at all really, that is just our culture constricting us with gender norms and expectation. If you want to, nothing should stop you from picking up some yarn and some needles and get going, I can promise you loads of positive feedback and the joy of being able to create something.
Have you ever had comments from people criticising or judging you for being a male knitter?
I’ve had stares, and people taking photos of me whilst laughing. I also had a hard time in school, being bullied for my love of knitting and other crafts. Luckily, I had the support of my parents to help me through, and I also got a lot of positive feedback from people who were nice to me.
Do you think more men should take up knitting and why?
I do! Considering climate change for instance, I think that more people should take up knitting, just to care more about the things that we wear, and understand that a piece of clothing actually takes a lot of resources to make, something we should not take for granted. Knitting is also proven to ease stress, and help against depression and promote happiness, so I think that a world full of knitters (both men and women) would be a far better place.
Thanks Birger, happy international men’s day!
You can follow Birger on Instagram @birgerberge
Photo credits: Gunn Gravdal Elton/Familien, Sigurd Berge