The image of knitting has undergone a sea change in the past few years, and it is no longer subject to ageist and sexist stereotypes. It is now a popular activity for all ages and genders, which can produce adorable baby boutique clothes such as booties, or pretty and stylish crochet bikinis.
This fun and creative craft has benefits beyond producing gorgeous handmade clothes and toys, however. The mental and physical health benefits of knitting have been in the spotlight in recent times, and never more so than over the difficulties of the past year. It has even become a new way to socialise and meet people, with online clubs thriving.
The rhythmic motion of the needles is known to have a soothing effect on the mind, helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. The repetitive movements which become second nature to the seasoned knitter can produce a meditative effect, which is calming and yet also creative.
There are even claims that the gentle movements are good for the fingers, keeping the joints healthy and helping to ward off conditions such as arthritis. Furthermore, because the activity involves both the brain and the body, it improves fine motor skills and stimulates mental functions, which is important to prevent cognitive decline.
During lockdown, thousands of people turned to spinning a yarn as a way to fill their time, as The Guardian reported, and discovered the therapeutic potential of this rewarding craft. Global style icons such as the singer Harry Styles and Michelle Obama were spotted sporting authentic woollen garments, sealing a fashion resurgence for knitwear.
The BBC reports that the shift towards homemade products has also been driven by the younger generation waking up to the need to combat climate change. People are opening their eyes to the harmful fast fashion industry, which is damaging to the environment and exploitative to all but the most high-level employees.
As a reaction to this, there has been a wider renaissance of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, which was led by William Morris. It marked a change in the value society placed on how things were made. It was born out of a reaction to the damaging effects of industrialisation, which saw the rapid rise of crowded and polluted cities.
The poor quality of mass-produced machine goods, and the often horrendous working conditions of the labour force, caused a shift in manufacturing priorities. There was a drive to produce goods which had greater ethical integrity, and recognised the creativity and humanity of the people who produced them.
There are strong echoes of these principles in the recent revival of traditional crafts, such as knitting and embroidery. Not only are people making bespoke products, a new generation of manufacturers are sourcing materials from sustainable suppliers, and being transparent about their procurement processes.
Forward thinking, millennial focused companies are leading the way, by taking old methods and attitudes and reclaiming them to help shape a better future.