It doesn't feel like crafting ever goes out of style. Whether it's knitting, sewing or another medium, it always appears there's a new, trendy craft to try.
In fact, crafting seems to be enjoying a boom lately – two of the nation's major crafting retailers reported significant improvement in sales in the third quarter of last year over the same period in 2008.
Hudson, Ohio-based Jo-Ann Stores Inc., a fabric and craft retailer with stores in 48 states, reported a 6 percent increase in net sales for the third quarter of 2009 with $509.1 million compared to $480.1 million for the same period the year before.
The company's chairman and chief executive officer, Darrell Webb, reported in a Dec. 2 financial news release that it was a "positive customer response" to the company's core sewing and craft merchandise that continued to drive sales growth.
Sales at Michaels, an Irving, Texas-based company with more than 1,000 stores in 49 states and Canada, also showed an increase in crafting interest.
In the quarter ending October 2009, Michaels reported a net income of $15 million, a news release said. In that quarter, Michaels financial records show bead and jewelry making to be among the top three performing departments within the stores.
With this surge in crafting interest, The Journal Gazette begins today a craft column "Crafty Living," to highlight crafts, area crafters and their work. We will also provide readers crafting ideas and projects to try.
The column will be weekly and will be written by Journal Gazette staffers Joyce McCartney and Rhea Edmonds.
In addition, each week you can hear Math4Knitters: Crafty Living podcasts about knitting patterns and projects by Lara Neel, Journal Gazette visual editor, at www.journalgazette.net/craftyliving.
Here's a little about the columnists.
I have a passion for crafting that I really cannot explain, other than to say I like to see a pile of stuff become something useful and beautiful – whether the "stuff" is yarn, fabric or beads.
I did not grow up in a crafty family. My mother had a sewing machine, but I knew the sewing table as the place that held her plants in front of the kitchen window. I don't recall ever seeing that sewing machine up and working.
I learned to crochet in elementary school, thanks to a friend of the family, but I put the crocheting down one day, not long after I'd learned it, and didn't try it again for more than two decades.
When I picked it back up, I couldn't get enough.
I've been at The Journal Gazette for 10 years, the last six of those as assistant metro editor. In the last three or four years I've reintroduced myself to crochet and have learned as much as I could to improve my skills.
Lately, in addition to my crocheting, I have been sewing quilts and bags, beading jewelry and paper crafting.
I have a wish list of crafts I want to try and I hope this column will serve as a way to not only share those trials with you, but to encourage you to try something and share your experiences with us and our readers.
Perhaps it's because I grew up watching women in my family create beautiful things with their hands that I find myself with my hands in a variety of craft projects.
I used to watch my mother crochet afghans. Now I crochet hats, scarves and sweaters. I've ventured into the world of afghans. I completed a christening outfit this spring and I've done a few other fashion items for babies over the years.
As a child, I watched my grandmother knit. I started knitting last spring and my first project, a top-down cardigan, at times, was enough to make me want to toss my bamboo circular knitting needles and return exclusively to my first love, crochet. Thankfully, I overcame the stress of my knitting errors, kept my needles and finished the project.
My focus at the moment, however, is learning to make all-occasion cards that are elegant – rather than looking like an elementary school craft project – and expanding my candy-making skills beyond the peanut brittle my grandmother taught me to make.
When you have many interests, you have to step back, take a deep breath, exhale and remember to enjoy the project you're working on, while pondering the pleasure you anticipate the next project bringing.
I've just exhaled.
Interact with us
Do you know someone whose artistry/crafting should be featured here? Is there a project you would like to see tackled? Do you craft and have an original pattern for something that you'd like to share? E-mail us your ideas, thoughts and questions at the address below.