Gone are the days of crocheting pastel baby blankets and potholders. Today, young people are all about using their imaginations with crochet hooks in hand to make handcrafted plushies, hats for cats, cute cardigans, lingerie sets and beyond. In fact, the combination of TikTok and Instagram reels and pandemic isolation protocols created a rise in what I am deeming the crochet resurgence. Don’t believe me? Head on over to #crochet TikTok and you can endlessly scroll through the hashtag with more than 7.8 billion views.
In fact, CNN Style noticed Gen Z took the hobby and repopularized it, detailing it in their piece “The trend making the internet wholesome again.” Writer Leah Dolan noted how, as crocheting grew more pervasive on social media, young people realized they can cheaply make intricate sweaters and other patterns that would be considered designer, and well outside of most budgets.
Crochet trends on TikTok vary in style and function. If you want to see little Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dolls dressed in their “WAP” music video costumes, someone has made it. Do you want to follow a creator along for a whole year as they make a “temperature blanket” crocheting one row per day with each color falling in line with the daily weather? You have a friend to check in on daily. There’s even a channel creator who crochets snoods for their dogs and then does taste tests with those pups.
“There are infinite ways to create with yarn and seeing young people find that expression with such an ancient art is inspiring.”
There are also different crochet niches for any aesthetic, like those within the more alternative realm. Channels such as @altknots utilize the cozy art of crochet and juxtaposes it with gothic, witchy and Halloween-centric aesthetics. In fact, this user even crocheted a Trick ‘r Treat-inspired cardigan.
This just goes to show that crocheting shouldn’t be stereotyped as an “old lady” activity. Not only is that sexist, it is just incorrect: Gen Z is ruling this trend, with some even transforming their craft into full-blown small businesses.
“Crochet took over as a COVID hobby, at least in the slow fashion world and I think it’s amazing,” Alison Green, the woman behind Atomic Tangerine and a slow fashion advocate, tells Her Campus. “There are infinite ways to create with yarn and seeing young people find that expression with such an ancient art is inspiring. Some of the work that people do from clothing to crochet installations are breathtaking.”
Green not only crochets her own totes, bucket hats, scarves, and more to sell in local Ohio stores and online, but she also makes new crochet projects out of vintage finds. While thrifting, she came across several perfect-condition handmade blankets. With a little extra yarn, she made new coasters, cardigans, and even shorts.
“With more people learning how to crochet, knit, sew, etc., spending hours, days, weeks, on fashion pieces, raises the question, ‘Why is the clothing we buy so inexpensive?’”
As young people get more into their yarn and how it’s sourced, it seems as if this hobby has become a way to appreciate fashion and learn more about textiles in the industry and its relationship to ethics.
“The fashion industry, specifically fast fashion, has been a large conversation piece the last few years and is getting amplified every day,” Green shares. One example of this can be traced back to the viral TikTok from @mattrose1312 about Target’s 2022 winter crochet line. In it, he explains how crochet can only be done by hand, meaning each cheaply priced Target piece is handmade with a majority of the cost going to materials. Therefore, and sadly to no surprise, the people creating these pieces are most likely overworked, underpaid, and crafting in questionable conditions.
Green, whose brand Atomic Tangerine places an emphasis on slow fashion on its website, is troubled by this mystery. “With more people learning how to crochet, knit, sew, etc., spending hours, days, weeks, on fashion pieces, raises the question, ‘Why is the clothing we buy so inexpensive?’” Green says. “Most importantly, why can’t we find where these pieces are made and who is making them? What is the crochet workers’ cut of the $18 tanktop that they hand-made?”
With more education about fast fashion via TikTok sustainable fashion influencers and lifestyle media outlets, more young people are getting involved in anti-fast fashion groups and organizations.
To put it into perspective, the Foundation for Shared Impact (FSI) outlined that 12-year-old children work in the factories of Cambodia, nearly 50% of Vietnamese women reported sexual violence in their factories and to top it off — these workers are all severely underpaid. What would it take for these underaged and abused workers to be paid a fair wage? According to FSI, an increase of 12 cents per shirt sold at H&M.
Beyond the humanitarian crises looming behind many large corporate sellers, fast fashion brands are also causing severe damage to the planet. CNN shares that 200 tons of water may be utilized to create just one ton of dyed textiles. Additionally, 80% of all clothing items will be burned or thrown away. This is all merely a snapshot into the dark side of fast fashion.
Fortunately, with more education about these topics via TikTok sustainable fashion influencers and lifestyle media outlets, more young people are getting involved in anti-fast fashion groups and organizations. Green pointed to groups like Remake World and podcasts like Clotheshorse as resources that are becoming popular among Gen Z in the fight against fast fashion.
To be anti-fast fashion can mean several things. Perhaps you love to thrift, crochet, or sew old clothes to keep them longer. Maybe you do purchase a cheap clothing item, but take extra great care of it and avoid tossing it after a few wears. Or perhaps, you use your social platforms to spread awareness on the topic of ethical fashion consumption. There are several ways to make your voice and stance heard.
It makes sense that many people took up crocheting as a COVID isolation hobby and stuck with it, as researchers have discovered several mental health benefits associated with the activity.
“More people are thrifting clothes, buying vintage, hosting clothing swaps with their friends or repurposing instead of buying new,” Green says. “But I think most importantly, young people want to learn how their clothing is made and how it affects those making it.” And with creators’ breakdown into how their crocheted creations are made, crochetTok is helping viewers find a new way to embrace slow fashion.
But the benefits of crocheting aren’t solely for the fashion industry — the activity can also help crocheters on a personal level. It makes sense that many people took up crocheting as a COVID isolation hobby and stuck with it, as researchers have discovered several mental health benefits associated with the activity. After all, according to the Washington Post, Gen Z individuals were mentally impacted the most by the beginning of the pandemic. With education, social interactions and career goals put on hold, of course, young people had been in search of ways to cope.
The American Counseling Association outlines how yarn crafts can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety as it was found to release serotonin via the repetitive pattern of motion. Plus, crafting in this form is linked to higher self-esteem, aid to insomniacs, and healing for those experiencing grief.
“For me, crochet is a form of meditation. It forces me to slow down and focus on one stitch at a time.”
Green shared her personal story and how she found solace in her yarn. “The gap between college and when I started my crochet business was difficult for me. All through my schooling, I was very involved in athletics, specifically soccer and track. Once I graduated, practices and games were done and I felt as though my life as I knew it ended and I struggled to find something that I was passionate about,” she says. “But once I started crocheting often and working with yarns, those fears of being uncreative, anxious, and drifting through life (mostly) went away.”
Green has noticed her thought process change through crocheting. “For me, crochet is a form of meditation. It forces me to slow down and focus on one stitch at a time. You see progress through slow growth, not all at once. It helped me recognize that creating something from nothing is an art form in itself, no matter what your medium is.”
The next time you experience anxiety, confusion, or loneliness, consider trying to create. It won’t solve all your problems, but it may help you feel relief — even if just for a moment — as you navigate through uncertain times.
With all of this in mind, you may be thinking, “I need to get a crochet needle and yarn ASAP.” If you want to try your hand at crafting with yarn, go for it. Or if you are simply blown away by the scarves, stuffed animals, blankets, and lingerie pieces creators are making, you can find these and more under #crochet on TikTok. For those of you who are interested in learning how to make your own crochet creations, there are beginner’s videos available on YouTube, like this one by TL Yarn Crafts that shares various techniques, info on various materials for crafting, and more. With myriad mental health benefits and just good pure fun to be had, it’s time to get stitchin’.