Knitting is officially cool. Movie stars like Cameron Diaz and Nicole Kidman are said to knit between scenes on the movie set. Knitting clubs are popping up on college campuses. Teenagers are taking knitting classes. And knitters no longer limit themselves to sweaters and socks — they actually knit works of art.
There are more knitters, they are knitting more frequently, and they are spending more per knitting project. Today, 38 million Americans knit. And the nature of knitting has changed, going upscale. It’s not your grandma’s ball of yarn anymore. Now it’s a ball of hand-dyed, natural-fiber, luxury yarn that can go for as much as US$50.
All this has meant a business boom for knitting shops. The traditional sleepy yarn shop run by Mom and Pop (or, typically, just Mom) is looking different these days. Yarn shops are being expanded as the owners ride the trend. Several cities have knitting cafes, melding together the coffeehouse and the knitting shop.
In California, the center of this hot trend, knitting shops that once pulled in US$100,000 now bring in ten times that.
An interesting aspect to this trend is how the Internet and even blogs have helped fuel the boom in knitting. Like many other hands-on hobbies, the Internet plays an important role as an information source, an extension of community, and a source of supplies. A quick Google search reveals dozens — possibly hundreds — of sites selling yarn and knitting supplies online. And online forums and blogs re-create online the community gathering place that the yarn store serves in the physical world. The knitting blogs even manage to duplicate the homey feel of a small local yarn shop — for instance, the Morcatknits blog.