Vogue Knitting LIVE Chicago was an exposition attracting all knitting-related people and groups; yarn companies, charity groups, and budding designers all had a place at the event, and all made their presence known. Steve Malcolm took a different approach. Instead of hoping to get noticed, he just used his assets and charisma to notice others, and they responded in kind.
“There were a lot of people I wanted to meet in Chicago, and I knocked several off of my list,” says Malcolm, during a lunch interview. The “list” included designers Lily Chin, Deborah Newton, and Cookie A, and all were crossed off in one weekend. The Jamaican-born Malcolm currently resides in the Canadian coastal city of Vancouver, but he came to Vogue Knitting LIVE to expand his brand and get noticed. “There are a lot of knitters out there, a lot of designers, even bloggers. I was looking for a way to get my name out there, do something different. I was looking at ways to make it fun!”
His idea is taking off, and It Takes Balls To Knit is now his blog, his brand, and the calendar he produces annually to raise money for prostate and breast cancer research. This is no ordinary calendar, however; the models for a given month are each wearing a different scarf knitted and designed by Malcolm. They are also not wearing much else, and Malcolm himself appears on the December page wearing nothing but his self-designed Barrington braid cable-motif scarf, strategically draped so a not-safe-for-work photo can be more tactfully displayed on the wall of a cubicle.
After a rousing success with the 2012 printing, the 2013 calendar promises to be even better. “I learned a lot, and there are things I will be doing differently for next year,” says Malcolm. The 2013 calendar, available on his website for pre-order, will feature all male models, instead of both men and women. The calendar will also feature a crochet pattern, and a sneak-peak into the designs show a Fibonacci-sequence inspired pattern and a basket-weave motif. As with the 2012 calendar, purchasers will also receive access to several of the knitting patterns for the scarves used in the calendar, making it an ideal gift for a knitter. Orders processed now will arrive well before Christmas and Hanukkah.
Back in the mid-1990’s, Malcolm saw a sweater in a store front with a retail cost of over $500, and after thinking about that sweater for a few days, he went back to the store to find it was gone. He decided he would learn how to knit so he could design sweaters for himself, and ultimately improve upon the ones which already existed. After securing a copy of Susan Bates’ book, “Learn to Knit,” his needles were on their way.
Now, in addition to working in the thriving entertainment industry in Vancouver, Malcolm runs his website and knitting business, designs patterns, and has started a charity knitting group in Vancouver which donates items to the Purpose Society New West, a non-profit organization which aims to strengthen the communities in the area through social programs and charitable support. He also is a member of several knitting groups, including a Thursday group called Froggers Anonymous, named affectionately after the act of ripping out a knitting mistake.
Malcolm’s next endeavors include promoting his 2013 calendar and brand at Vogue Knitting LIVE New York at the beginning of January, and promoting his private new yarn line, Fiber Optics, available for purchase in just a few weeks. He is open to selling his calendar through local yarn shops, along with his new yarn line. One thing Malcolm does not appear to do is put down his knitting needles; his website brands him as a “big-balled, bald man with sharp sticks,” and with his gaining fame in the industry, nobody is bound to mess with his success.
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