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.