“People used to crochet more years ago.” Really?

By Caissa "Cami" McClinton – 16 Comments

Like many of us, I love crochet because it is a portable craft. Those moments on the bus, in line at the grocery store, and in the doctor’s waiting room are excellent times to crochet! In fact, that’s one of the reasons I prefer not to drive at all! More crochet time! 🙂

Yesterday I was on the bus crocheting and a woman who was (to me) an elder told me that more people used to crochet before and fewer people do it now. I live in Miami, so we are fortunate to have an eclectic mixture of cultures and lots of intergenerational interaction.

I was confused because recent research by the Craft and Hobby Association has indicated that crochet is the seventh most popular craft in the United States terms of dollars spent per year, with over one billion spent in 2010. (Crochet World Magazine Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 10)

Additionally, my observation of global crochet trends show that crochet is strong, particularly in Mexico.

The fairly recent surge of high fashion crochet fuels the fashionistas’ interest in “getting the look.” We crocheters know that we can get the look for much less! And we do!

I think that people are crocheting now more than ever! What do you think?

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  1. Jody says:

    In order to determine whether “more people are crocheting now than ever before,” you need to know exactly what you are trying to measure.

    Yes, crochet has definitely experienced a revival and many, many people are crocheting wonderful and amazing things, so it’s much more likely that someone will encounter others crocheting in public, blogs about crochet, magazines, patterns, etc, than they might have 10, 20, 40 years ago.

    However, think about how the technology to share those crafts has also changed and expanded over the last 20 years. You are much more likely to hear about crocheters outside your local neighborhood now, than you were even 10 years ago! It is only recently that we’ve even had the metrics to identify how many people were crocheting worldwide.

    The other difference is that most people no longer need to crochet to put clothes on their bodies … it is much more of a “free time” choice now, than it might have been “back in the day.” My grandmother taught me to knit & crochet when I was a little girl in the 1950’s, and she considered it a survival skill … not a “craft” … even though it wasn’t exactly necessary for me to know how to do it, just to be clothed.

    We are fortunate to be living in a time when it is easy to share knowledge and ideas. There’s definitely lots of ideas out there to keep me inspired for a long, long time!

  2. Bailey says:

    I think it’s hard to measure. I remember as a child you always saw knitting needles going because kids needed hats and mittens as a practical need. (We had more knitters than crocheters) My Aunt would crochet beautiful doll’s clothes for her daughter, but she had more time available for those activities. People still use knitting and crochet for practical purposes. My Mom has outfited several generations with those necessary hat and mittens. However, my focus has been on toys, dolls clothes and far fewer practical house hold items. I have never made mittens. I prefer flleece gloves myself.

  3. I learned to crochet in the early 1960’s (yes, I’m THAT old! lol). When my Grandmother’s taught me this craft, orange and yellow ponchos with matching berets were all the rage. “Zig Zag” patterned blankets had just come about and the Granny Square wasn’t yet developed. So I’ve seen a development in this craft that spans well over 40 years. There was a definite drop in interest, as in the 80’s and 90’s it just wasn’t “cool” to wear a crocheted article of clothing. It seems that whenever it tried to re-emerge, all you saw were the same very old, out of fashion items – heavy doll dresses, vests, weird color-combination blankets. Today, designers have stepped in to recognize the beauty of this craft and have developed amazing patterns, incorporate color theory and make patterns that can actually be followed! It has renewed everyone’s interest – young and old and has inspired many of the newer generations to learn. I taught the craft in my home town. Last year, I had approximately 120 students and have had many calls since to offer the classes again. This made me really happy to see young people really wanting to learn to crochet. I believed the craft was still viewed as old-fashioned – but it’s not. It’s now fashionable, giving the younger generations a chance to express themselves through their hands.

    So to answer your question of whether or not people crocheted more years ago, I’d have to say no. But it’s easier to measure the crocheting population now. People did, in fact, crochet years ago out of necessity. But I think that giving people a chance to make something with their hands, in the age of high-tech, has spurred a resurgence of people needing an escape – and what better way than to create something you made with your own hands?

  4. Karine says:

    Everyone in my grandmother’s times used to knit and crochet (both)as they felt it was a necessary skill. My grandmothers thought their daughters and with blooming economies and the 80’s and 90’s near extinction of the “cool” factor of wearing handmade clothes, my aunts forgot how to crochet… some knit tuques but only a couple of them out of almost a dozen remembered how to when I started to crochet a few years ago. Now at 28 years old, I’m the only one in my family who knits or crochets and I had to learn through YouTube. I’ve thought a few ppl I work with but we’re far from what it used to be… it used to be more valuable than high school education (about 80years ago when my grandma was 10) and prior, now it’s a craft people choose to do on the little free time they have so far less people opt to learn and practice crochet and/or knitting.

  5. Brenda says:

    I agree. And love it that more people are crocheting.

  6. Alyssa says:

    I feel more younger crocheters(26 and younger) dont do it in public and things as we assume older women do more. There are certainly more people who crochet, knit and sew more than ever now just not too common do you see it in public i guess. Plus people pay more attention to the smart phones. I was at my obgyn for my baby appointment and made a whole toddler hat while waiting and got many many stares. Who cares its cheaper and hey go to http://www.etsy.com and heck out the enourmous amounts people do!!! People crochet to sell not so much to give anymore…..

  7. Caissa says:

    Thanks to everyone who responded. It’s very interesting to hear all of the different perspectives. Maybe it seems like people are crocheting more these days because of the dip in popularity during the 1980s followed by the recent resurgence. But crochet has a very long history. Maybe a bona fide crochet historian will weigh in! 🙂

  8. Talia says:

    I’ve learnt to crochet in the past few years and a bunch of my friends have asked me to teach them, to disconnect from the technology heavy world we live in and mindlessly relax. I guess people dont make stuff as much anymore, because my 2 and 4 year old girls teachers were shocked that I made them cowl and ruffle scarfs as holiday presents.

    • Talia, that story about your girls’ teachers is funny! When I was teaching most of the gifts I received were from a store, so your going the extra mile probably really touched them. I did get a really cool crocheted scarf from a student once, though, and I was shocked she made it because it was so neat and I had no idea she knew how to do that!

  9. Barbara says:

    I have made many afghans in the past and never gave it a thought that is was a dying craft. I had never tried other types of crochet until I became a Pinterest subscriber and have been totally amazed by all the wonderful things that can be crocheted – it is very exciting. I have crocheted many water bottle covers for my friends at the Y; I have crocheted many, many ruffled scarves to give as presents; I have been a few holidays decorations – a wreath, snowflakes, turkey for Thanksgiving, and in the past made many ‘Mr. Flurry’ snowman for family members. I do most of my crocheting in the evening as tv doesn’t not supply many great programs. And I am very much a senior citizen!! How about that!!

  10. Erin says:

    If crochet is more popular, why are the yarn departments shrinking. Makes me think yarn isn’t such a big seller. I hope I’m wrong 🙂

    • Peggy says:

      Yarn Departments are being replaced by independent yarn stores, which I thought had died out. There weren’t all that many yarn departments during my youth in the 1950’s-60’s, other than at 5 and 10’s and discount stores. JoAnn’s didn’t always sell yarn either. I don’t let other people’s doing my craft determine for me whether I do something I enjoy. The Internet has in my mind made a world of positive difference in finding patterns and groups with whom to crochet, if I choose to do that. In my family, knitting and crocheting weren’t done for survival but for gift-giving, and we weren’t a wealthy family by any means.

    • I wish the yarn departments weren’t shrinking in big box stores, but I agree with Peggy’s assessment. Since crochet is only one popular yarn craft, I think it’s safe to say the yarn industry is doing pretty well even if we have to buy it in a different way.

  11. Vickie Treadway says:

    I learned to crochet when I was in 10th grade. I was taught the granny square and then I would ask people how to do other things. I have been crocheting 40 yrs and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t crochet. I am a very anxious person and have depression so I crochet to keep my mind busy. I like to find challenging patterns and make them, it always makes me feel good when I can complete one. It is a great mood booster for me and it keeps my hand busy so I don’t snack all the time.

  12. Vickie, I am glad that crochet brings you so much comfort. It is a great hobby in so many ways.

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