Handmade: Male fiber enthusiasts welcome at Artisan Knitworks

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Nicholas Sielicki had been making somewhat frequent drives down a street in Farmington where, one day, he noticed a yarn shop. So, the next time the longtime needle enthusiast needed yarn, he decided to stop in at Artisan Knitworks, 23616 Farmington.

"Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and just very energetic," says the Livonia resident, who, in a matter of time, became a regular customer. He even took a crocheting class with co-owner Sandra VanBurkleo, which he says allowed him to get to know her better, and discover that there are many more knitting and crocheting techniques out there to learn and try his hand at doing.

As a male knitter and crocheter, Sielicki, 25, says, "I don't personally have any other male friends who knit or crochet, maybe because there's a feeling that it's not acceptable for men to knit in public places like Artisan Knitworks. But after having been there two or three times, I realized how welcoming and warm everyone was. I always felt it was OK for me to come in and sit on the couch and knit for a while, and get to know the other people."

He adds, "What's interesting is how social norms changed over time, because, believe it or not, men were actually the ones who did all the knitting in ancient Egypt. Now, in modern times, it's as if it's only for women and only for girls. One of my personal crusades is that it shouldn't be a gender-related hobby."

His love for crocheting began when he was just 7. He says, "I've crocheted as long as I can remember from 7, then probably, about five years ago, I decided I wanted to try something different, so that's when I started knitting."

Describing himself as a "yarnophile" because he has such a huge stash of yarn, Sielicki takes his knitting to work, where he spends his lunch hour knitting in the kitchen area. He says, "I was never singled out or ostracized for knitting at work. I've actually had quite a few requests from women at work who want me to teach them how to knit."

Just last month, Sielicki became the "facilator/leader" of a male-oriented, but not male only, group at Artisan Knitworks as a way to encourage knitting and crocheting among men and younger generations. The group meets every Wednesday around 6:30 p.m. for about two hours.

Here, Sielicki shares one of his original crocheted scarf patterns.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more craft news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

Aztec Scarf

Level: Beginner

Estimated time: About 4 hours

Tools: Size J crochet hook, scissors, yarn needle

Supplies: 550 yards of fingering weight yarn (with some left over)

Abbreviations: ch chain, st stitch, sl st slip stitch, sc single crochet

Note: Ch1 does not count as a sc. It is merely a "step up" to the next row.


1. Ch 201, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in all remaining sc's (200 sc made), ch 1 and turn. Work 3 more rows of sc on 200 sts for a total of 4 sc rows.

2. Ch 1, turn. Sl st in first 5 sts, ch1, sc up until the last 5 sts, ch 1 and turn, leaving the last 5 sc unworked. (total of 10 sts, 5 on each side have been left off). Work three more rows of sc on 190 sts.

3. Continue repeating step 2 until 10 sts remain.

4. Work 6 rows of sc on 10 sts to form top of "pyramid."

5. Cut yarn, tie off, and sew in loose ends.

6. Block piece according to type of fiber used.

Contact Nick Sielicki on Ralvery.com with username Kolja123.