Crafters see resurgence in crocheting, knitting

Apr. 17—Traditional needlework and handicrafts of the past, like crocheting and knitting, are making a resurgence in Cherokee County.

Andrea Chaffin, a Tahlequah crocheter for about seven years, said crocheting and knitting are fiber arts that can create objects and apparel from blankets to plushies. Chaffin first learned how to crochet through tutorial videos.

She said that around 15 years ago, crocheting was not as common, but it has recently resurged with the '70s and '80s coming back in style.

Kyla Jones, of Mystic Crochet, makes and sells a variety of crocheted items. Jones also has noticed more people taking up the hobby and related videos going viral.

"I believe people are drawn to it because you are able to make handmade items either for yourself, as gifts, or [for] profit," Jones said.

Jones said crocheting has endless possibilities, with creations that can't be replicated by a machine. Among those are clothes, blankets, home decor, and Amigurumi, or plushies.

"[People] will go to Walmart and buy something that says crochet, but crochet versus knit, the difference there is a machine can knit," Chaffin said. "There's no machine that can crochet, so it has to be done by hand."

To find true crocheted item, one must buy from local artists.

Crocheting can be picked up for a variety of reasons, such as to sell or enjoy a new hobby. Jessica Cardwell, of Tahlequah, is among the latter group.

Cardwell started learning when she wanted to stop smoking and keep her hands busy. She has noticed modern blanket patterns increased in popularity, with plushies often being a hit.

"I know crochet is seen as an old lady hobby, and it definitely can be, but I think it's also a great hobby for people of all ages," Cardwell said. "I just love that crafting in general has come back in such a big way."

Cardwell said the most daunting aspect of the crafts is starting a project and not getting overwhelmed.

"Patterns seem like a different language with all of the abbreviations, and even watching YouTube videos. It's hard in the beginning to get a sense of where the stitches go," Cardwell said. "It's also hard to know what kinds of yarn to buy or how much you need."

Counting stitches with crocheting is the hardest part for Chaffin.

"Start small. Definitely don't go spend a whole lot of money. Yarn can be very expensive," Chaffin said. "Practice, and don't get upset with yourself if something comes out wonky. The good thing about crochet is, if you mess up, you can just pull on the yard thread and it will unravel, and you can take part of it out and go back and fix it."

The practices don't require much equipment to get started. Both forms of needlework just need a pattern and skein of yarn, and either knitting needles or a crochet hook. Even though crocheting can be difficult, Jones said it gets easier with practice.

"You can find most equipment online, but I personally got my start on a crochet kit I found at Walmart for around $10 that included a set of crochet hooks, stitch markers and a complete guide to crochet that teaches how to read crochet patterns," Jones said.

Katie Reed, of the Monday Morning Knitters group, said the club meets weekly to learn hand crafts, like knitting and crocheting. The group has been in operation for many years, giving participants a space and support for their crafts.

Reed said knitting and crocheting can be inexpensive, as long as one stays away from exotic yarns.

"You can get your supplies anywhere from Walmart to Hobby Lobby, or even order them online," Reed said.

Get involved

The Monday Morning Knitters meets at St. Brigid Catholic Church activities building from 9-11 a.m. every Monday. Other hand craft groups in Cherokee County include: the Hook and Needle Club and Tahlequah Creative Threads. The Hook and Needle Club meets at the Hulbert Community Library every other Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., while Tahlequah Creative Threads meets at the Lift Coffee Bar each Monday from 4:30-8 p.m. Lost City Knits has online classes that can be found at