Gertie at STC Craft: It's Not Your Grandma's Crafting (Or Is it?)


Hi everyone, I'm back! I got a little bogged down in other work for awhile (including finishing my book!) but I'm back to posting here on a regular basis (I don't want to make any promises that I can't keep so I'll keep it a little vague). I thought I'd jump back in with a discussion of the generational aspects of crafting. I know there are strong opinions on this matter, so I hope we can have a spirited conversation here!

It’s not news that there’s been a resurgence of young women getting involved in crafting for the last decade or so. (I just turned 33 so I feel like I'm smack dab in the middle of the whole thing) Hip knitting books, tattoo-style embroidery kits, and sewing patterns by Project Runway stars all speak to a new generation of DIYer. My personal blog has resonated with lots of twenty-something women, and if I can get them to start sewing, then I’m happy. But one thing bothers me about the young crafting movement: namely, the “it’s not your grandma’s sewing/knitting/embroidering!” mentality and marketing strategy. Because, well, it is your grandmother’s sewing, knitting, or embroidering. (And because I work with vintage sewing patterns and books, this is quite literal to me.)

Whether you’re knitting tea cozies or a skull motif sweater, you’re using the skills that have been passed down among generations of women. Crafting may have gotten a hip makeover, but there’s nothing new when it comes to hand crafting technique—and we have our grandmothers to thank for sharing these skills. Also, we have a responsibility to pass them on to the next generation ourselves. (I’m sure our granddaughters will think skull sweaters are so 30 years ago!)

But perhaps this distancing of the older generation is what it takes to get the young folk interested in crafting. I’ll readily admit to sometimes being drawn to hipster embroidery transfers and other products marketed to the under-35 demographic. But there must be a way to draw in that demographic without alienating our grandmother’s generation.  My Grandmother’s Knitting by Larissa Brown is a great example of this concept at work: it’s a collection of stories about the tradition of knitting in families, paired with patterns that appeal to the modern knitter.

Since we’re coming up to Mother’s Day, now seems like an appropriate time for this discussion. What do you think of this issue? Do slogans like “it’s not your grandmother’s knitting!” bother you? Or do you think it’s a necessary step forward for the craft movement? Please share!