‘Brooklyn Boy” Louis Boria is playing a huge role in changing the face of knitting — one stitch at a time.
Ten years ago, Boria, who works as an administrative assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, taught himself to knit and hasn’t looked back. He takes the subway to work every day, spending the hour-and-15-minute ride heavily engrossed in one of his many knitting projects — often unaware of his surroundings.
That probably explains why he didn’t notice when Broadway actress, pop singer and former “American Idol” (2003) and the “Voice” (2011) contestant Frenchie Davis took a photo of him knitting recently, as she sat across from him on the train.
“I didn’t realize it until the very next day. A friend of mine, who follows her on Facebook, called and said, ‘You should see what’s going on on Facebook!’ ” enthused Boria, 42, speaking by phone from his Brooklyn apartment. “I’m so focused on my work that I don’t realize my surroundings. She took the picture and wrote this post. I immediately went on her page, and wrote on that post — “I’m Louis Boria, and this made my year!” Then I started messaging her privately.
“From there, she wrote a second post, telling her followers, 22,000, to follow me. After that, it was just an explosion of new followers — people wanting to see my work! Then the (New York) Daily News reached out to me. The editors loved the story so much, they decided to put it in the Sunday edition.” He’s also been featured on two news stations, a radio talk show and Vogue Knitting (Online), in addition to an interview with Lion Brand Yarns’ “Tea with Shira” (#39) on You Tube. And, today, he’s scheduled for a taping and interview with CBS News!
After Davis’ post went viral, things haven’t been quite the same for Boria, who took a month’s leave from work since finding himself the subject of so much attention. Orders have been pouring in from all over, including such faraway places as Australia and Japan.
“Right now, I have knitters on hand, and for the most part, I’m able to keep up. We have about two to three knitters who are helping me out by filling orders. As things pick up, I’ll be seeking more knitters. I’ve had to streamline the website (brooklynboyknits.com) more to focus on price points and the specific items I would be making.” His collection includes mainly, hats, scarves, cowls, tops and infant wear.
Boria started selling his work shortly after learning to knit with YouTube videos. Then two years later, in 2011, he named it “Brooklyn Boy Knits,” and created an Online “look book.”
What made this born and raised “Brooklyn boy” want to learn to knit? “I had a dream about 10 years ago that I was knitting, and I woke up with my hands in mid-air as if I was knitting,” he explained. “I found it to be weird, but that very same day, I decided to go to Michaels and buy some yarn and knitting needles. I came home and went on YouTube. The first video was how to cast on. I just took it from the very beginning. I felt it was something innate telling me (to knit). I feel it was God’s gift to me. I felt God gave me the gift, and it was up to me to nurture it.”
Boria knits every day at work on his lunch hour, and into the wee hours after getting home. “I get home around 7 p.m., and I knit until about 1 a.m. I sit down and eat, and then I’m watching television as I’m knitting. On average, I knit about nine to 10 hours a day.” (What a guy!)
Although he sometimes uses patterns, Boria, who “primarily” works with wool blends, also has a talent for creating his own designs. He’s inspired by what he sees on the streets of New York and in major department stores. “I’ll go into Bloomingdale’s and see what’s the hottest items. I like to see what’s trending, I constantly look at what people are wearing. I like to mix it up. I do a combination of traditional knits and contemporary couture pieces.”
His original designs include the “Bushwick Convertible Hat” that doubles as a cowl, and the “Implexa,” a scarf/necklace, made with I-cords, beads, and strands of leather, suede and recycled T-shirts.
“People from all walks of life” are his customers, and celebrities who own his work include Jonathan Fernandez from the TV series “Love & Hip Hop,” and Davis, whom he gifted the scarf he was knitting when she snapped the photo of him. Brooklyn Boy Knits range from $25 for a baby headband to $200 for an “Implexa.”
Boria hopes to someday open a “Brooklyn Boy Knits” shop with “a coffee shop inside where people can come and knit in an upbeat environment.” He said, “I’m trying to change the face of knitting. I want the urban youth and young adults, especially men, to come out and not be afraid to break down those barriers in the world of knitting. I just want to make knitting cool for everybody.” However, he added, “For now, I’m focusing on my online sales.”
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, email@example.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Brooklyn Boy Knits at brooklynboyknits.com, on Facebook and Instagram (brooklynboyknits) and Twitter (brklynboyknits). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.