Image description: three balls of yarn and a knitting needle
A 21-year-old woman is not the first image that comes to mind when most people think about knitting. I picture a sweet, old granny swinging back and forth in a rocking chair knitting a cute pair of socks for her grandchildren. However, this does not reflect the reality of the modern day knitter!
In and out of lockdown over the last year, I’ve found solace in a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn. Whilst I’m not winning any awards for my wonky knitted squares, I’ve found the repetitiveness of casting stitches calming and a great way to deal with the constant stresses that the pandemic brings.
A quick scroll through my Instagram feed and flick through Snapchat stories has assured me that I am not alone in my lockdown crafts. I’ve seen friends turn their hands to many craft outlets: knitting, embroidery, crochet and sewing.
The beginning of lockdown saw many people sewing their own masks with an array of printed fabrics. Many used this nifty skill for good, offering to give away masks for free on Facebook groups to those in need of masks and hospital workers when there was a shortage of PPE.
A friend also recently bought a sewing machine, intent on upcycling her old clothes and making new styles. She’s even got me pondering about the various clothes that I don’t wear anymore and what I can do to give them a new lease of life. I’ve seen similar trends on social media, especially TikTok, which encourage people to make their own clothes.
Even far apart, people can still find company doing creative things and learning new skills.
However, this craft phenomenon is not just limited to my circle of friends. According to We Are Knitters, an online craft supplier, they have seen a substantial increase in demand for their knitting products. Their annual ten percent growth sales increased dramatically to 235 percent globally in March 2020, when many countries were locked down or following strict public health measures.
The hashtag #weareknitters currently has over 321,000 posts associated with it on Instagram, showing the wider knitting community hard at work crafting. We Are Knitters found that their sale of beginners’ knitting items has also spiked 750 percent.
Groups such as the Black Girl Knit Club, founded in 2019, are attempting to create safe spaces for black people and people of colour in the craft industry, where sometimes minority groups do not feel represented.
The Black Girl Knit Club recently featured in BBC adverts shown between programmes. The adverts were part of BBC “oneness” idents which began in 2017 and aim to show people doing things together in everyday life. They are seen by approximately 34 million viewers weekly.
The recent advert featuring founders and members from the Black Girl Knit Club showed them knitting in their own homes over Zoom screens, a testament to the new digital way of conducting activities together.
The inclusion of virtual knitting groups in the BBC ident shows that crafts do not have to be a solitary endeavour. Even far apart, people can still find company doing creative things and learning new skills. Whilst I may have returned to knitting as a result of lockdown, it is definitely something that I want to keep doing long after it ends and I would urge others to give it a go.
Image credit: Jenna Colaco