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What comes to mind when you hear the word millennial? Perhaps a 30-something glued to her smart-phone, swathed in the latest fashions and… knitting? This may come as a shock, but knitting and its age-old sister crafts like macrame are currently on the rise among the generation sometimes known as Generation Y.
According to the Craft Yarn Council of America, knitters between 25 and 34 increased 150 percent between 2002 and 2004, and are currently fueling yarn sales country-wide.
While this may seem improbable, the newfound passion for this time-tested hand craft makes sense considering the trends. In our ever-more-hyper-technological social-scape, cheap goods, and an increasingly consumerist culture, many new knitters and fabric artists cite the desire to buck these trends as their reason for picking up the yarn. And this is just one offshoot of a much larger surge of young people whose passion for “DIY” has been sweeping the nation in recent years, with a youthful enthusiasm for artisan crafts and skills like woodworking, craft beer brewing, gardening and jewelry-making.
Interestingly, while it represents a way to disconnect from the technology-scape, the web has also aided greatly in the spread of this fervor via platforms like Pinterest and Etsy, where makers can gain inspiration, download free patterns, and form friendships–all for free.
A recent survey by the Craft Yarn Council found that expressing creativity is the most common reason cited by millennials for their passion. And creativity indeed abounds, with new designs and applications springing up everywhere, adapting and adding to these ancient handcrafts.
See, for instance, the new trend in “giant knitting” that has taken off, incorporating huge threads in patterns for sweaters, scarves, rugs, and everything in between. Young knitters have generated such a demand for the giant yarn needed for this style that yarn distributors are scrambling to keep up.
Another neat adaptation takes knitting out into the streets, quite literally. “Yarn bombing” and “guerilla knitting” are a new form of hand-spun graffiti that brings unexpected bursts of fuzzy color and pattern to public spaces, covering tree trunks, public sculptures, bikes, and even cars in delightful, crocheted covers. In her fantastic TED talk, one of the initiators of this movement, Magda Sayeg, explains her original inspiration, “All I wanted to see was something warm and fuzzy and human-like on the cold, steel grey facade that I looked at every day. So I wrapped a door handle.”
Our beloved art of macrame is also enjoying an upsurge, in part thanks to young champions like Portland designer and teacher Emily Katz. Katz does does both bespoke work and off-the-peg sales through her site, modernmacrame.com.
As yarn-bombing queen Sayeg says, “We all live in this fast-paced, digital world, but we still crave and desire something that’s relatable. Hidden power can be found in the most unassuming places, and we all possess skills that are just waiting to be discovered.”
We are certainly heartened by this upswing in an appreciation for these hand-crafts that have brought us so much joy. And maybe–just maybe–this rejuvenation can bring about a good change in the world, bringing us closer to each other, closer to ourselves, and closer to our full capacities.
We hope you enjoy the macrame jewelry we’ve created from our love of hand-crafting.