Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Renaissance of Craft

I have been knitting since I was a kid. I started like most children in rural New Zealand with a wooden cotton reel with 4 nails tapped in the top & hours & hours, yards & yards of french knitting. My Daisy dolls has small garter stitch blankets & by my teens I had graduated to long 'homespun' look scarves & my first jumper, a purple, white & black geometric intarsia number (give me a break, it was the 80's!) done in a soft mohair blend - quite adventurous for a first jumper project. The 80's was the last time I really remember the craft, & especially a knitting, Renaissance like what we have now. Who can forget all those brightly coloured intarsia bat winged jumpers with big shoulders & miles & miles of brushed mohair. Parents were also kept busy moving from the 70's poncho to the 80's leg warmers & it was OK, even cool to knit - so like many of my peers, I did.

Then came the stock markets crash, the 80's made way to the 90's & the plethora of mass market knitwear that was so cheaply priced - why would you spend hours toiling away over the needles to produce your own garment. Knitting, for me at least, found it's way into the back of the wardrobe, or was done behind closed doors. And this is a beautiful thing I think about the resurgence knitting has had over the past 5 years - it's the transition of 'knitting for necessity' to 'knitting for pleasure' (or addiction).

An Australian yarn company has a wonderful poster that circulated a few years ago the had a beautiful young woman in the lotus position with the by line "knitting is the new yoga", many of the women I have have taught to knit or helped refresh & coach have all said the focus required in the craft has helped them relax & unwind after the rigours of a hard day, a feeling I'm sure you wouldn't get by ripping out the plastic & buying a vastly inferior mass produced product.

I now do some work for a local spinning mill, my professional background (whilst colourful & varied) in recent times has been in the areas of marketing & new product development. I have been helping them with some new yarns they have been developing. The beauty of the Internet is that the world is now a truly global marketplace, you can buy yarn from anywhere. In the course of my research I found yarn offered up for sale on EBay from Inner Mongolia! So getting our yarns from New Zealand out to the global marketplace should be very do-able. The other aspect of the Internet is it's place in the reignition of craft, because 'crafty' people by their very nature love nothing better than to be able to share their craft with others. There are now communities & social networking sites for people of every interest & ilk to be able to share their work & passion & now even marketplaces for them to sell their work without the barrier of borders.

I am very interested to see what lies ahead in these hardened economic times for craft & it's suppliers, traditionally in times of crisis disciplines like knitting have soared in popularity, so if you haven't done so already now might be the perfect time for you to dust off those needles & join the craft renaissance.
If you would like to see the yarns available from the New Zealand Yarn Company, visit our new store on we are called yarn4miles and put "Forever Green Elan" in the search

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