Yearning for Yarn: Knitting and Crocheting Pandemic Popularity

Sarah Garrett, Staff Writer

In a journey to find ways to spend quarantine hours, people turned to new hobbies that included baking, watching tv, reading books, and for some, knitting and crocheting. 

Knitting and crocheting both use the same general principle of creating fabric by looping holes through holes, but they differ in how they do this. While knitting uses two needles, crocheting uses one hook. According to Melissa Sternberg, one of the owners of Gauge Yarn, a yarn store in Austin that was directly impacted by the pandemic, both activities became a popular craft and hobby for teenagers during quarantine. 

The most interesting thing we saw was a change in what people made,” Sternberg said. “2020 was the year of the blanket, which, in Austin, Texas, wasn’t previously a huge knitting thing. The biggest difference is we had a real change in our customer base. We had much younger customers, which was very exciting for us.”

Sophomore Hadley Wright is among the teenagers who took up crocheting as a hobby over the pandemic. She already knew how to knit pre-pandemic, but the pandemic gave her extra time to learn something new. 

“My grandmother got me crochet hooks for my birthday, and I didn’t know how to do it,” Wright said. “I decided to buy an instruction book off of Amazon and teach myself, and it was fun.”

Senior Harsha Venkataraman has been working on a variety of clothing-related projects since quarantine. Her last crocheted item was a cardigan. 

I think my goal this senior year, second semester, is to crochet sweaters,” Venkataraman said. “Something that’s practical and fun to spend time on.”

According to Venkatarman, for complete beginners, learning how to knit or crochet can seem daunting. She recommends finding video tutorials to follow. 

“I would say find something you want to make and then watch a good video on how to make it,” Venkataraman said. “Watching someone do it is a lot easier…and then you just use it to learn basic stitches.”

Sternberg has come across many beginners that only had access to video tutorials while learning. She recommends that beginners be patient while trying to learn. 

“We have seen tons of customers who taught themselves over the pandemic, from YouTube and online, who now have a chance to come in the store and ask us questions,” Sternberg said. “Be easy on yourself. You are not going to be a perfect knitter or crocheter when you first start. It is okay to make mistakes, and it’s how you learn.”

Sternberg, an avid knitter and crocheter herself, speculates that one of the reasons teens decided to knit and crochet over the pandemic is because it is calming. She enjoys the act of creating and so do others. 

“There’s definitely a lot of hand-brain connection that a lot of studies have shown is calming,” Sternberg said. “That repetitive motion triggers a whole different part of your brain that allows you to focus. During the pandemic, being able to focus on something besides the pandemic has been really nice for people.”

Wright uses it as a passive activity. When she is relaxing, Wright likes working on projects in her free time. 

“When I’m sitting down watching Netflix or talking to my family, I’ll pick up projects that I leave all over the house,” Wright said. “I’ll just pick one up and start working.”

Venkataraman believes that crocheting can also be stressful sometimes due to projects going awry. She enjoys crafting and crocheting as a type of creative outlet. 

“It’s mostly a hobby,” Venkataraman said.  “I actually recently picked it up. I did it a little bit in seventh grade, and I took a little bit of a break. I made a bunch of pillows, but I didn’t really start back up until probably around this year, just at the beginning of the school year.”

One of the reasons that Sternberg likes knitting so much is because it creates something that lasts. She feels that it is nice to make something. 

“I like the act of creating, and when you’re finished, you have a product that isn’t ephemeral,” Sternberg said. “You know, I love cooking, cooking is great, but with knitting and crocheting, you have something that’s there that you can share. I often say there’s two types of knitters: there’s product knitters, and there’s process knitters. I encounter a lot of knitters who want to have the finished object, that’s their goal, and then there are knitters who just like the act of creating. I think I’m probably [currently] in the act of creating. I just always have projects going, and I love having a finished project, but it’s exciting to start. I like the actual act of creating it, seeing something grow.”