Statistics and Trends: Discuss

Feb 14, 2006

According to my experience of the last few months, there are, loosely speaking, two schools of thought in the crochet industry. One thinks the industry is struggling in its uphill battle against the constant threat of dismal sales and overall disinterest; the other thinks the industry is gaining strength and is even on the verge of a boom. I'm in the latter group. My personal experience has been that interest in crochet is exploding. I get this from everyday interactions, from browsing book stores and magazine racks, from reading blogs, and from work I've been offered and have sought out. But I am one person and I cannot a trend prove.

So. Let's wheel in the stats.

The 2005 Craftrends Consumer Participation Survey (for which 1,000 random crafters exiting independent and chain stores were polled) found that 15% of crafters purchased crochet kits/supplies in the last year, up from 14% in 2004 and 13% in 2003. The report summary said that, "The continued public interest in all things related to yarns has boosted knitting and crochet participation again this year." Most interesting is that 19% of crafters aged 18-25 bought crochet-related projects, up from 12% in 2004.

Here's the thing about these stats: There's an error margin of + or - 3 percentage points in this study. There's an error margin in all studies. This is because a random sampling of the overall population might produce data that are a little bit off from another random sampling of the same population. What this means is that the people who performed the study are confident that 95% of the time (I assume; they don't state this in the write-up even though they should) data from a random sampling of the population would fall within 3 points of the percentages they're presenting. So, in reality, it could be that 18% of all crafters in the US bought crochet supplies in the last year. There's really no way of knowing. There's only a survey of 1,000 randomly selected crafters. So, because of that + or - 3 points margin, that there's been an increase of 1% each year in crafters who buy crochet supplies doesn't necessarily mean we're experiencing an overall increase. Maybe it's a trend. But in terms of statistics, it's really impossible to say.

That bit about young crocheters is pretty wicked, though. That number is significant. Young'uns are picking up hooks. We like that.

Now. Just when you thought I'd dismiss you from this torturous discussion, there's more. The Craft and Hobby Association also did a survey in 2005. I haven't seen the actual study results, but I'm intrigued by what was reported here.

According to this article about the CHA study, crochet participation (12% of total households; 25% of crafting households) ranks second only to cross-stitch/embroidery participation (15% total; 30% of crafters). I can't really say more about this study since I don't know who was polled or what the margin of error is. There's an interesting bit, though, if we look at the chart of Top 5 Crafts with error margins in mind.

It does look like cross-stitch/embroidery really is the most popular craft among those polled. But I think it would be much safer to say it's a tie for second place between crocheting and scrapbooking/memory craft, each with 12% of total households participating, and with crochet practiced in 25% of crafting households compared with scrapbooking's 24%. I don't know what the error margin of the study is, but I doubt it's less than 1%. So however tempted I am to shout from the rooftops that crochet is the second most popular craft in all the land, I'm going to bite my tongue. (The same muddling happens between 4th-place home decor/painting/accessorizing and 5th-place apparel/fashion sewing.)

The most shocking statistic quoted in the article: apparently, only 37% of households participate in reading. Oy.

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Claire wrote
on Feb 15, 2006 7:50 AM

There seems a "resurgence" here at my workplace in crocheting. A co-worker brought in an afghan she was making before the Christmas holidays and got about four more of us started crocheting again with interest from those who would like to learn. I hadn't crocheted in almost 20 years, dug out all my hooks and began an aran afghan during the holidays. I have now completed two (for my home!) and am starting one for my dauther. I am searching for new patterns constantly and would like to try making garments next. With all the craft, yarn and fabric stores here in NH, there are abundant supplies supplies of some of the most wonderful yarns and resources!

Cathy wrote
on Feb 15, 2006 8:57 AM

Same here. I learned to crochet as a youngster but didn't pick it up again until a few years ago when "Stitching Nights" at local homes and establishments started up. We have a power stitching hour at lunch here at work too where we knit, crochet, sewing or even take a field trip to a yarn store! This has sparked the interest of the younger gals in the office who want to learn to knit or crochet, so we are passing on the craft. I do think less mothers and grandmothers have this experience to pass on, so it is up to all of us to teach as many as we can find! I think that there is much to be gained from the fellowship of fellow stitchers. Women especially crave this attention and boost in our self-esteem when we complete projects and share them with our friends.

Tab wrote
on Feb 15, 2006 11:19 AM

The reading bit is truly disturbing!

I'm 28, I taught myself to crochet about 7 years ago. When I started, I was crazy, granny-ish, etc... Now, when people see me crochet, it is cool, or neat, or recently "the most awesome-est thing like in the world!" (yes it was a direct quote). I crochet mainly when I'm watching my boys at their dance class or games, or practices. Or any time that I will be sitting for quite awhile. During the last 4-5 years, I have noticed alot more people thinking it was neat. And in the last year or so I've had a lot of people ask me to teach them. Mainly girls in the 5-13 range. I always carry around extra hooks and yarn to teach someone some basics. At my oldest son's baseball tournaments. I was sitting in a circle of about 12 girls learning to crochet, and about 3-4 adults. We did this nearly all day. I plan on printing out some excellent web tutorial pages that I've found, so the kids can continue when I'm not around. I have no idea how many people I've gotten started crocheting, I don't know if all of them continue after they leave me. I know my sons enjoy it! I don't always get my project done, but to see the look on their faces when the have a real grasp of it, is worth it! I realize this is a fairly long way to say this, but I completely feel that it is a resurgence!

Dora wrote
on Feb 15, 2006 1:33 PM

As I do some designing in crochet, I am particularly interested in this subject of whether crochet is on the upswing or not. I have a friend who is very knowledgeable in the field, has worked as a publisher, editor etc, and she afrees with Kim's comment that crochet is a very popular hobby, more than knitting, but that crocheters tend to make afghans and doilies rather than fashion, and this has been true for many years. Of course that does seem to be changing, and that's why the young crocheters are the market we want to cultivate. It's hard though, because the LYS (local yarn store) -- where high end fashion yarns are carried -- carry knitting magazines, not crochet. I went to new yarn store recently in my neighborhood and tried to interest the owner in crochet mags, but she was reluctant. I think she felt that the crochet mags still do not look as stylish as, say, Vogue Knitting. And the crochet mag publishers, while trying to update their look, are still aiming at that vast, rather conservative (dare I say mostly midwestern?) audience. It's a quandary -- we will have to watch and see and do our best to proselytize (sp?) on behalf of our craft!

Abigail wrote
on Feb 16, 2006 9:17 AM

I recently took up crochet as a way to relax with my art. That's not true - I simply wanted to relax. Crochet was a way of falling in love with making things again - not for an audience per se, or an art dealer, or even to stay cozy! I love the undeniable fact that crochet seems to be on the upswing in the fashion world and press, but mostly I am enamored with the idea that I can crochet on the subway and feel as if I have created an instant hearth and inner circle during my subterranean journey. Onlookers seem behooved by the fact that I am "using" my time in this way. Additionally, I am addicted to visits to the LYS (local yarn store), and I am in love with my city again due in part to the handspuns and knit/crochet patterns that distract me from the gritty texture of urban living. This all may be a trend, but there is indeed a staying power in the sharing aspect of crochet. No piece is ever the same and this, I believe, is a really good thing on a planet that is increasingly standardized, genericized, and resistant to the notion that art and craft can be humanitarian and ubiquitous.

Molly wrote
on Feb 25, 2006 10:33 AM

I totally agree with Abigail's comments about sharing and creating in a world that can seem so homogenous.

My anecdotal evidence from my LYS? They do carry more knitting patterns/mags and have more staff who know knitting than crochet. But in a knitting/crochet circle that I go to, it seems to be changing from me being the only one crocheting among a bunch of knitters, to a recent one with the majority of folks crocheting, and the minority knitting.

And in the spring issue of the JJill catalog....crocheted sweaters, skirts and belts. And the fashion mags also say that lace and crochet are the hot trend for spring and summer.

rachel wrote
on Mar 9, 2006 6:26 PM

Iam looking for someone to finish a crochet project for me that was started, it is a long scarf..... I live in the Lakes Region in NH.... anyone game??? thanx