Everyone during the pandemic has seemed to pick up some new hobby. What caught my attention is the large group of people, particularly on TikTok, who have turned to fiber arts — specifically crocheting and knitting. Just from scrolling my own For You Page, I’ve seen sunflower cardigans, cowboy hats, tote bags and unique sweaters galore. This isn’t your grandmother’s cardigan —- this is an artform.The pandemic had influence within it, but I think that there are other sparks to the yarn frenzy.
Thanks to TikTok, crocheting and knitting have transformed from a craft that made mittens to a craft that made art. While the lines blur between craft and art, the word “art” has a particular kind of distinction. I personally view a tenderly made sweater as a form of art, but there can be no doubts about the artistic merit of this new style of knitting. Funky patterns, bold colors and a variety of textures are taking over the algorithm. But when did these cardigans and sweaters come into fashion? I link it to Harry Styles popularizing knitwear.
However, one cardigan in particular has captured the eye of internet knitters. The J.W. Anderson cardigan, or the Harry Styles cardigan, is a patchwork of reds, greens, yellows, oranges and blacks tied up in a bright orange collar with large buttons. Each patch or “granny square” is sewn together, but in a fashion that leaves ends of yarn peaking through to create a vintage handmade appearance. This specific garment caused video after video of people creating their own Harry Styles cardigans. After that, there were many more tutorial TikToks, as well as people showing off their handmade knitwear.
TikTok, while highly influential, is not the only thing promoting handmade clothing. With a growing movement to quit fast fashion, or cheap, trendy clothes produced unsustainably, it comes as no surprise that people have gained interest in making their own clothes. There are many appeals to custom made clothes as a method to protest fast fashion, including, frequency of use. When I make something that I am proud of, I never want to take it off. Additionally they are customizable to body shape and can be designed in any fashion. The growth of the “slow fashion” movement has become huge online, with knitting shops popping up everywhere on Instagram. Purchasing handmade crafts can be quite expensive, however, so people have taken to learning knitting themselves.
Thanks to YouTube, learning to knit or crochet is extremely accessible. I taught myself how to crochet recently over Christmas break. I learned basic stitches, how to read a pattern and was able to get a sense of what style I liked. There are many community knitting clubs that meet online. Additionally, websites like Ravelry have free and paid patterns so it’s easy to find that perfect scarf. Even the creators of the Harry Styles cardigan released a video on how to make it yourself. If you’ve been thinking of picking up knitting or crocheting, now’s the time to give it a shot..