According to my experience of the last few months, there are, loosely speaking, two schools of thought in the crochet industry. One thinks the industry is struggling in its uphill battle against the constant threat of dismal sales and overall disinterest; the other thinks the industry is gaining strength and is even on the verge of a boom. I'm in the latter group. My personal experience has been that interest in crochet is exploding. I get this from everyday interactions, from browsing book stores and magazine racks, from reading blogs, and from work I've been offered and have sought out. But I am one person and I cannot a trend prove.
So. Let's wheel in the stats.
The 2005 Craftrends Consumer Participation Survey (for which 1,000 random crafters exiting independent and chain stores were polled) found that 15% of crafters purchased crochet kits/supplies in the last year, up from 14% in 2004 and 13% in 2003. The report summary said that, "The continued public interest in all things related to yarns has boosted knitting and crochet participation again this year." Most interesting is that 19% of crafters aged 18-25 bought crochet-related projects, up from 12% in 2004.
Here's the thing about these stats: There's an error margin of + or – 3 percentage points in this study. There's an error margin in all studies. This is because a random sampling of the overall population might produce data that are a little bit off from another random sampling of the same population. What this means is that the people who performed the study are confident that 95% of the time (I assume; they don't state this in the write-up even though they should) data from a random sampling of the population would fall within 3 points of the percentages they're presenting. So, in reality, it could be that 18% of all crafters in the US bought crochet supplies in the last year. There's really no way of knowing. There's only a survey of 1,000 randomly selected crafters. So, because of that + or – 3 points margin, that there's been an increase of 1% each year in crafters who buy crochet supplies doesn't necessarily mean we're experiencing an overall increase. Maybe it's a trend. But in terms of statistics, it's really impossible to say.
That bit about young crocheters is pretty wicked, though. That number is significant. Young'uns are picking up hooks. We like that.
Now. Just when you thought I'd dismiss you from this torturous discussion, there's more. The Craft and Hobby Association also did a survey in 2005. I haven't seen the actual study results, but I'm intrigued by what was reported here.
According to this article about the CHA study, crochet participation (12% of total households; 25% of crafting households) ranks second only to cross-stitch/embroidery participation (15% total; 30% of crafters). I can't really say more about this study since I don't know who was polled or what the margin of error is. There's an interesting bit, though, if we look at the chart of Top 5 Crafts with error margins in mind.
It does look like cross-stitch/embroidery really is the most popular craft among those polled. But I think it would be much safer to say it's a tie for second place between crocheting and scrapbooking/memory craft, each with 12% of total households participating, and with crochet practiced in 25% of crafting households compared with scrapbooking's 24%. I don't know what the error margin of the study is, but I doubt it's less than 1%. So however tempted I am to shout from the rooftops that crochet is the second most popular craft in all the land, I'm going to bite my tongue. (The same muddling happens between 4th-place home decor/painting/accessorizing and 5th-place apparel/fashion sewing.)
The most shocking statistic quoted in the article: apparently, only 37% of households participate in reading. Oy.