Recently there's been a plethora of whittering about the growth in handknitting and how it's a product of the recession.
Please stop writing this!
Seriously. Please look at the numbers here.
Apart from the pleasure and value for money aspect of the hours spent, in no way, shape, or form is knitting a garment cheaper than what you can buy in an average supermarket. It is cheaper than couture but that's not the cheap end of the market anyway.
Let's pose an example. I knit socks, usually in wool or a wool blend. I pay, on average, €10 per 100g of yarn, which will make a pair for myself or my husband, with some leftovers. If I push myself I can knit a plain set of socks in about 2 weeks, and this is hours of my life. Now go to a camping store. That €10-€15 pair of wool socks? Cheap in comparison. Those very cheap pair in Dunnes/Penney's/wherever? That's what people with no money wear.
And yes, I could knit for cheaper, and I occasionally do, there's enough yarn in my stash that I'm slowly knitting through. And I think that's the key.
It's from the same root as slow food, a want to get back in touch with how things are made, a yearning to get involved. An understanding that the cheap clothes actually are produced in conditions we find appaling and that we want to think about it. I also think that there's an element of people for whom work is a largely virtual experience wanting to have something tangable at the end of the day. For whom sitting in front of another box at the end of the day isn't restful. Our sense of touch is largely relegated these days to keys on a keyboard but there is something about the feel of a yarn as it slides through our fingers... or as we rub it on our skin.
And you hear knitters and crocheters talking in those tactile and other sensory terms. People talk about the squish factor of a yarn, yarn fumes, fondling yarns and stash diving. They also use it to comfort themselves and others and feel both agreeved and annoyed that people dismiss their efforts as 'cheap gifts' not getting that often every stitch, particularly for children, contains well-wishes for that childl sometimes subconsciously, or rate them against others who sell below genuine costs. We rate crafters in this country against commercial sales, not against enjoyment or the creative effort.
And to those who dismiss crafts as useless in education I say feh! Well taught Clothing Crafts teach people about how their clothes come about, how there's actual effort involved, how to spot good quality from bad, how to size something properly to you and how not to accept imposed fashion, but to look to yourself and suit you. But all of this is often dismissed and not seen as useful.
Written from my phone with no spellchecking and just from the top of my head. It's been building though.