And here is another good result born out of the pandemic. Many more people have started using their hands and hearts to make crafts at home.
All those budding crafters who said, “If only I had time, I’d like to get into (fill in the blank): tapestry, pottery, quilting, candles, basketry, woodworking, painting or macramé wall art made from old bicycle tires and used tights) had their chance.
As people found creative ways to entertain themselves and children during lockdown, pursuing small crafts has become big business.
Craft supply stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels have seen surprisingly strong sales during the pandemic, and their projections for 2022 remain strong. In 2020, Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade items, more than doubled its revenue, and for the first nine months of 2021, its gross merchandise sales increased 39% from the same period of the previous year, according to Forbes.
Even small craft businesses have felt the boost. “Our business tripled in 2020,” said Leesburg, Va.-based quilt and fabric designer, author and quilting teacher Shannon Brinkley. Brinkley also runs The Meander Guild, an international online forum where quilters come together to explore quiltmaking styles from around the world and develop their crafts. “We grew tremendously because so many people were looking for artistic connection and had free time.”
The time in our hands
“When people were stuck at home, they tried to think of new things to do and creative sparks took hold,” said Jeff Herman, editor-in-chief of Lawnstarter, an app that lets users book cleaning services. lawn and outdoors. This month, his company, known for its curious surveys (Best Cities to Walk Your Dog and Best Cities for Aspiring Chefs), released its 2022 Best Cities for Crafting report. (More on that in a minute.)
“We’ve all seen stories about how many people have put the extra time and money they had during the pandemic into home improvements,” Herman said. “But fewer talked about how they used time and money to improve their homes and quality of life through craftsmanship. It seems like a huge trend.
Indeed, as a society, we have gone from wringing our hands to wringing tie-dye T-shirts and knitting our eyebrows to knitting afghans. Creating crafts has not only helped us pass the time in isolation and distracted us from the troubles of the outside world, but has also made our homes more beautiful and sometimes brought dough.
Kat Kennedy, of Newport News, Virginia, is a good example. “I’ve always loved doing crafts,” she says. But when the pandemic hit, the 34-year-old mother of a 9-year-old son took up finger knitting, a technique that doesn’t use needles. She started making blankets with a vengeance.
“Before the pandemic, I had probably done a total of three covers in my life,” she said. Since COVID-19, she has made 21. Several adorn her home. Some, it is sold. Others, it is given as a gift or given to the homeless.
Something for everyone
Her boyfriend, Daniel Hardy, also caught craft fever. After Kennedy dragged him to a few thrift stores, he became interested in old furniture. The 38-year-old medical insurance representative began picking up a few worn but well-made pieces, including cedar dressers, chests and dressers, some of which he found on the street, and learned by himself to sand, touch up and restore them. watching YouTube videos. He now sells his renovated furniture through his e-commerce store.
“When the pandemic started, so many things changed,” said Kennedy, who works from home in customer service for a gardening company. “You couldn’t get out. The children could not go to school. Knitting and restoring furniture took up our time and made us forget everything that was going on.
Her son helps Hardy with sanding, painting and dyeing, and sometimes also knitting scarves. “Crafting has really brought us together and strengthened our relationship,” she said. “We are our own little family.”
And they’re doing it all in the living room of a 925-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment. She knits in an oversized armchair, while Hardy works nearby in a part of the dining room they’ve turned into a workshop and covered with drop cloths.
Now back to the smartest cities. According to the Best Cities for Crafters survey, the top five cities are New York, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, and Patterson, New Jersey, and the worst, coming in at number 200, was Enterprise, Nevada. But more important than ranking is knowing what to look for in your community to help you succeed in crafting. Here are the qualities found by researchers that can help ignite crafters’ glue guns:
ACCESS TO MATERIALS: Having lots of craft supply stores per square mile helped boost a town’s rank, as did having an abundance of hardware, fabric, and thrift stores.
CRAFT COMMUNITY: Cities where many local artists participated in their Local Artists Sunday — an art shopping event held each November in cities across America — ranked highest, along with those that had many groups of craft meeting. “Having a concentration of artists nearby is important for both inspiration and networking,” Herman said.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: The more arts and crafts classes a city offers and the more schools that offer arts and crafts classes, the greater the opportunities for artistic growth and enrichment. a city gets a high score in the ranking.
ARTISTIC EVENTS: A final measure of a city’s craft potential is the number of arts events, including craft fairs and art festivals, that a city hosts each year. Whether you tap into a creative community online or in person, artists do best when they engage with other artists.
Join me next week as we talk about what every crafting room should have.
Marni Jameson can be reached at www.marnijameson.com.
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