On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a knitting business with my guest Louis Boria.

After going viral for knitting during his daily subway commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan late in 2017, 45-year-old Puerto Rican knitwear designer and philanthropist Louis Boria, also known as Brooklyn Boy Knits, has turned his passion for fiber arts into a platform where he now works with the community. He uses his platform to break down gender norms and tackle issues related to diversity and inclusion within the fiber arts community.

Throughout his journey from novice knitter to designer to Tedx speaker and influencer, he has focused on helping others. He believes that creativity can help heal wounds, both our own and society’s. Boria has collaborated with fiber artists, fiber industry leaders, community partners, and school districts to provide an interactive, engaging, and fun program that teaches young students to value differences. Be sure to check out Louis’ Tedx talk, “Making the most of your moment” which can be found on YouTube.

This episode is sponsored by Jimmy Beans Wood.

Your local go-to yarn shop online for nearly two decades. 

Started in 2002, Jimmy Beans Wool has been your go-to local yarn shop online for nearly two decades! They’ve got thousands of yarns to choose from in a variety of brands, weights, colors, and price points, along with everything you need to create and finish the perfect project. They’re now offering free US shipping to our listeners. Head to JimmyBeansWool.com/CraftIndustryAlliance to get crafting!  

We begin this conversation by talking about Louis’ childhood growing up in New York City. His grandmother taught him to crochet one summer when he was working as a camp counselor and although he did learn, he didn’t fall in love with it. Many years later, after being exposed to knitting through his best friend, Louis woke up from a dream one day with his hands in the air as though he were knitting. He headed to Michaels to buy some yarn and needles and to YouTube to learn how to cast on. 

man knitting on the new york city subway

When this post by Frenchie Davis went viral, Louis’ life was changed forever.

Louis explains that at first, he didn’t feel confident taking out his knitting while in public places, like on the subway, because he is a man and he was concerned people would look at him judgmentally. After being stuck in a subway tunnel for a long period one day, he gave in and began knitting in public and was surprised by the positive reaction he got. 

Many years later, unbeknownst to him, American Idol star Frenchie Davis took his photo knitting on the train and posted it to her social media accounts. When the photo went viral, Louis was thrust into the public eye. He decided to be very intentional about the experience, dedicating his time to working to introduce young people to the fiber arts and to share a message of positivity about who can and should knit. 

Louis is featured in this 60 Second Doc.

We talk about the idea of “yarn shaming,” something Louis does not believe should ever happen (he feels there’s a place for everyone in the knitting world, and for every type of yarn). We also discuss his role in the Disney Plus show The Big Fib, and how he prepared for and delivered his Tedx talk. Finally, Louis talks about some upcoming collaborations he has with Madelinetosh and Lady Dye Yarns.

We discuss the process Louis went through to write, memorize, and deliver this Tedx talk.

And, of course, I ask Louis to recommend great stuff he’s loving right now. Louis recommends:

  • ice dyeing
  • riding your bike

Keep up with Louis on his website and on Instagram to see what he’s up to.

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