While everyone was stuck inside due to quarantine, some people picked up new hobbies just to make it through each day. People turned to content creating, reading, whipping coffee and cutting their bangs. But one trend seems to have stood the test of time: crocheting. Similar crafts such as knitting and embroidery have had shining moments throughout the last year and a half — not to mention much of history — but crochet stands out because of its accessibility, fast turn around and flexibility and freedom in design.
As an avid crocheter, I am definitely biased in my assessment of the growth of crochet as a trend. My Instagram explore page and Pinterest board have become riddled with crochet patterns, inspiration and creators. Nevertheless, I still believe there is a unique quality in the way crochet has adapted to fit trends over the last few decades and especially since the rise of COVID-19.
Researchers suggest crochet dates back to the 16th or 17th centuries, known by different names over time and seen all over the world from China to France to Arabia. In the 20th century, crochet was popping up everywhere in various forms each decade, with the 1920s notably being the start of crochet as a method for clothing production. Eventually, crochet was on display at runway shows by major fashion designers such as Dior. Little did crocheters know 100 years ago that young people would be doing the same thing today.
In the recent years leading up to COVID-19, crochet was colloquially known as something grandmas took part in to pass the time: creating things like baby blankets and doilies was the precedent. But feelings began to change with the rise of the modern-day festival era. Events like Coachella saw the surge of trendy, youthful crochet in the form of bralettes, shorts, cardigans and other traditional festival-wear. In the prime years of Coachella circa 2016, blogs frequented crochet styling posts geared toward festival-goers, as the breathable and colorful designs matched the aesthetic of these events perfectly.
Crochet looks completely different now than it did just 5 years ago. Blankets and doilies have become checkered and psychedelic print tote bags and festival wear shifted into bucket hats and crop tops. The art form has entered mainstream fashion in a completely new way, using contemporary trends as the foundation for handmade pieces. It seems like people transform crochet into something more unique than before every decade, allowing anyone to take part in the fun of pop culture in a more sustainable way as opposed to buying premade items that will quickly go out of style.
The accessibility of crochet is what allowed it to rise as a popular trend beyond knitting and embroidery. All one really needs to work on a project is a hook and some yarn – each of which can cost as low as $2. With a small number of necessary, affordable supplies, crochet can be done anywhere by anyone. This doesn’t even include the plethora of free YouTube tutorials for people of all skill levels and online patterns that rarely cost more than a few dollars (there are many free ones online for those who prefer reading). Knitting and embroidery are similarly accessible, though I’d argue they require a bit more precision and are usually more challenging (for me, at least).
The other part of crocheting that has kept me interested for longer than any other hobby I’ve picked up is the quick turnaround for most projects. Granted, some projects have taken me days to complete, or a 12-hour crochet binge when I was especially motivated; However, many things can be completed in just a few hours, whereas knitting and embroidery projects can take much longer because of their tedious nature. Seeing your hard work manifest in a tangible, useful item in a short amount of time will surely keep you coming back for more. Crochet isn’t something exclusive to high fashion or skilled artisans; in fact, I’ve seen many beginners make the most beautiful pieces without ever having touched a crochet hook before. Being able to create on-trend pieces without investing large sums of money or time on them is irresistible, and that’s why so many people can’t get enough of crochet.
I truly hope everyone hops on the crochet train with me. It’s relaxing. It’s accessible. It’s rewarding, yet challenging. It’s all the things I’ve wanted in a craft but never had altogether. If the act of crocheting isn’t for you though, it’s still easy to indulge in the beauty of these pieces by supporting small artists. However, try to refrain from buying crochet at fast fashion businesses; the low price can be tempting, but due to the nature of crochet, it cannot be done by a machine. This means that an individual hand-made that piece and is not going to receive proper payment for their hard work because fast fashion brands boast these items at relatively cheap prices.
If you’re interested in participating in the crochet rage, check sites like Etsy, Depop or even Instagram to find incredible pieces made by independent artists. Or head to your local craft store and learn for yourself; I promise you won’t regret it.