A little history...
I grew up in Massachusetts during the late 50’s, the 60’s and the early 70’s and it was a fairly conservative area. There were things you could do and things you couldn’t do, things you could say and other things you could not say so this made it difficult if you had interests that were out of the norm! My mother was a knitter and I saw her knitting projects over the years and was always fascinated by the procedure and how things were made and finished. One Summer I found some needles and some yarn and tried to see what I could come up with myself by watching her technique and somehow managed to create some garter stitch headbands made with different colors in stripes and I gave one of them to my cousin Roberta and attempted to make more. My mother had to have been aware that I was doing this but it took a while until she told me “Boys, don’t knit!”. She did take me to a yarn store in Providence Rhode Island and decided that it would be OK if I hooked rugs and bought me a hook, some yarn and some canvas. I tried it but didn’t get very far and drifted off to something else and never finished it.
Many years later, I met this guy and we dated for a few months and then I went to live with him in Manhattan in an apartment in Tribeca. He worked in the garment industry after acquiring a Degree in Fashion Design from F.I.T. I was adjusting to a completely different life than I was used to and happened to get sick with a cold and stayed home in the new apartment which just happened to have some yarn and knitting needles there so I picked them up and tried to reteach myself how to knit. Somewhere I have this medium green long swatch of different stitch patterns that I created with different knit and purl patterns. He could see that I caught on pretty quickly and on a trip to Summit, New Jersey where he grew up I stopped by the local yarn store which he went down the street to do some business and I went inside and began to look around at all the yarn and patterns that were there. The owner of the Knit Wit Shop, Sherry McGrath, seemed a bit uncomfortable with a “guy” in the shop and asked me what I was looking for and I told her I was waiting for Anthony to return and she suggested that I might be more comfortable waiting outside so I started for the door! Luckily, Anthony came in at that point and we both went back and looked around and found some red yarn and a pattern for a cabled vest which we purchased. Eventually, we returned and showed her the sweater I created and other projects and she asked me if I would like to teach classes there now to which I said “Yes!” and began commuting there every week for several classes one day a week!
During this time, I took on more projects and started teaching myself how to design sweaters and worked on lots of projects and designs. Over the next year or so, Anthony connected up with this sweater designer name “Gwen Byrne” who had a knitting shopping in Greenwich Village. He was making garments for her that went with the sweaters she made and sold in her shop and we showed her some of my creations and she asked me if I wanted to work for her knitting her designs for customers and I took the opportunity and started knitting like crazy! I would knit all day long and often a sweater would take me 2, 3 or 4 days to complete! I also taught knitting classes there in the evenings and a few of my clients were men which was a great experience! I knit non-stop for the next year and we did a ton of work together! During that time, I was also working on my own developing my own techniques for designing and creating knitting sweater patterns and my technique of making “shaped” pattern pieces. However, I got to the point where I needed a change and I wanted to focus on my Men’s sweaters and designs and I decided to go my own way and I thought it was a good idea to take courses in Menswear Design and Marketing which was my focus for the next 2 + years! I earned my degree in Menswear in January of 1986 and worked at Macy’s Technical Design with some great people with a dear friend of ours for the next year. I spend a great deal of time working on my sweater concepts over the next few years but with anything that is out of the ordinary, there aren’t always sources available from which you can experiment with your ideas. During this time, in 1994 we moved from Pelham, NY to Tribeca in Manhattan. I would go to the Winter Garden at the World Trade Center and sit all day and knit! People would either hide behind the large columns and take my picture or come right over and take my picture! There were lots of tourists and not many guys knit in public at that point in time! I did this more for several years while I worked on new sweater designs and created size and measurement charts so that I could not only create a design but could grade it into many sizes! It was a great experience and I am happy that I was able to do it!