Puerto Rican knitwear designer Louis Boria (also known as Brooklyn Boy Knits) is a self-taught fiber artist who has been in the industry for 14 years. In 2017, he went viral after being photographed on an NYC subway by actress/singer Frenchie Davis. He had no idea how that one moment would change his life.
Not wanting to be known as the guy knitting on the train, Louis began working with NYC public schools, teaching children how to knit, crochet and work with yarn. With the help of 25 volunteers, he formed “Yarnementary,” a program educating students about fiber and its benefits.
Puerto Rican Roots
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he grew up in a typical Puerto Rican household surrounded and influenced by food, music, culture, and crafts. His late grandmother was an avid crochet artist. He remembered her making extravagant Afghans without using patterns. His mom was into needlepoint and drawing. She encouraged him and his siblings to craft.
Community played a role in his creativity as well. Art is everywhere in Brooklyn. In the Bushwick neighborhood, you’ll find wall murals created by Puerto Rican artists. On the boardwalks of Coney Island, during the summertime, tourists and natives will hear live salsa music.
Louis said, “Art comes in many forms here in Brooklyn, and that’s what I love the most.”
Knitwear Design Journey
Three years after he began knitting, Louis decided he wanted to become a knitwear designer. At the time, he worked at a hospital and brought knitted accessories to get his coworker’s opinions. He believes the stigma of knitting and crocheting being limited to “women only” is slowly going away as more male fiber artists and designers are emerging. In addition to expanding as a designer, he plans to release a book and collaborate with more companies and fellow artists.
His vision doesn’t stop there. He can see singer/actress Jennifer Lopez and Latin singer Ricky Martin wearing his designs. Jennifer, a native Puerto Rican from the Bronx and Ricky, a native from the island, gives this world a taste of our culture like no other. He said, “It would be an honor to have either of them wear one of my pieces.”
Building Knitting Communities
From Brooklyn to Spain, the work remains the same. Building programs and knitting groups are his priorities. After relocating to Madrid, Spain, Louis started scouting out fiber artists. He hopes to bring diversity and add identity to Spain. Aware that the two cultures are different, the love of fiber arts is the same—which is a starting point.
Even though Brooklyn will always be home, Boria is enjoying the slower pace in Madrid. Whenever he finds himself walking fast in the streets, he reminds himself that he’s no longer in New York. He credits his partner for teaching him how to appreciate siestas and the Spanish way of life!
Beyond The NYC Subway Train Fame
Louis doesn’t take his media exposure opportunities for granted. Whenever he’s given a chance, he tries to give the audience something different or new during each interview. He gushes over his two biggest moments: being a Speaker at Tedx Talk “Making the Most of Your Moment” and being a guest on Disney Plus’ The Big Fib season one, episode 11.
He’s also worked closely with campaigns such as Hat Not Hate, Cancer Awareness Programs at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, and LGBTQA+ young adults by promoting knitting as a therapeutic outlet. He is one of the founding members of Soho Publishing’s Diversity Advisory Council, which addresses the lack of diversity and inclusion in the fiber arts industry. He organized the Kaleidoscope Fashion Show at Vogue Knitting Live in New York, showcasing up-and-coming knitwear designers’ works.
Louis believes in building up this community one stitch at a time!
Learn more about Brooklyn Boy Knits at www.brooklynboyknits.com