Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Knitting Fads, in a Good Way

Funny how, of the crafts I've tried, knitting is the one where we find fads sweeping across knittingdom. It can be a pattern, like the French market bag above, or the Clapotis shawl, both from knitty.com. Or how about Jaywalker socks, developed on a knitting blog and published in magknits.com? The Birch shawl also seemed to be on everyone's needles awhile ago. Some knitting books take on a life of their own: look at Mason Dixon Knitting. MDK is like a bag of potato chips -- you can't make just one project from that book. It has a thriving knit-a-long, and I'm betting that the makers of inexpensive cotton yarn are feeling an upsurge in sales.

I've been involved in quilting longer than knitting, and sure, I saw some fads there, too. Stack 'n Whack comes to mind. And crochet? I don't know the crochet world well enough, although Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch: The Happy Hooker seems to have made a splash. It did have her previous books to give it a push (Stitch 'n Bitch, Stitch 'n Bitch Nation).

Are knitters more fad-conscious? Do they form a tighter community, simply more aware of what others are knitting? Or is the whole fad concept just my skewed perception?

On a different level, and without any market analysis to back me up, I'd claim that quilting was (and remains) a big craft phenomenon, growing throughout the 90s and continuing in the 00s. Knitting seems to have taken a bit of the excitement from quilting, and I hear that crochet is poised to take over in turn. But I haven't seen that happen. At my local stores, I see lots more knitting books than crochet. And the magazine market? Tons of quilt titles. A good handful of knits. And only a couple on crochet, and their projects often strike me as poorly thought out.

I'm glad that craft in general has found a renewed popularity. The process of making something both beautiful and useful (broad definitions on both those words) is so deeply satisfying, particularly when the object embodies a bit of our souls. I don't mean originality, exactly, although that's a part of any craft or art. The repetition of what so many others before us have done, the history of the action, also holds meaning. Your grandmother may have crocheted, or maybe Dad's old quilt is hiding in the closet. (Ooh! I should post a picture of my husband's childhood quilt. It rocks.) I love this aspect of craft.


Heather said...

I really like the thoughtful way you write. I have been knitting for a long time and find the current craze for knitting quite interesting. I think that younger knitters may come to the craft because it is a trend, or they know others who are doing it. But I hope that they will stick with knitting because it is meditative and healing and satisfying and creative. (same goes for other crafts).
I'm with you on crochet, I haven't seen anything that looks remotely wearable. Crochet is best suited to fine yarns and today's designers/customers seem intimidated by that. But it may come.
By the way I added you as a link to my blog. hope that's okay.

normanack said...

Of course! I'm honored to be linked to your blog.

medimom said...

Is it possible to knit a rug? I want to start with something simple but also something I could use. I thought a round rug that maybe I couldn't mess up too easily might work. Any advice?

normanack said...

Sure you can knit a rug. One of the books mentioned in this post (Mason Dixon Knitting) has a couple or three rug patterns. One of them uses Peaches and Cream or Sugar and Cream cotton yarn, both incredibly inexpensive yarns available at Wal*Mart, Meijer, JoAnn, Michaels, etc. The second uses fancier yarn to make a fancier round rug. The third is made from those cotton/wool loops you use to make potholders. I'll email you about them!

wavybrains said...

I really enjoyed this post. I come from a long line of crafters, and I've tried a lot of crafts over the years. Knitting seems to affect me in a primal way, but I've certainly been affected by fads---plastic canvas with yarn anyone? Potholder loops? Pony beads? Not all fads are keepers :)

Tarilyn said...

Love the post! I am a quilter turned knitter, and while many of the quilters in my local quilt chapter regularly bring knitting to work on at meetings, quilting is still the primary craft of choice among our membership (I am the exception in my group). I have also noticed a large number of knit bloggers taking up sewing of late. I think it's all great. It means that the traditions are alive and still growing!

kmkat said...

I would have said that the upsurge in crafting mirrors the aging of the baby boomer female population -- our kids are largely self reliant now, we are financially comfortable, and we finally seem to have some time -- except that knitblogland appears to be populated largely by people < age 40. Clearly these are not boomers.