The Decline of the UK Hand Knit Craft at the Close of the Twentieth Century: A Longitudinal Study

  • Tracy Cassidy (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


At the end of the twentieth century the decline of the domestic knitting craft was of paramount concern to the yarn companies and retailers that served this market sector. As demand reduced in the UK so did the number of specialist retailers. This was as detrimental to the yarn companies as it was to the craft. Research undertaken in 1999 by the author suggests that it is probably true to say that the knitting craft was at that point in time at its lowest point of popularity throughout the entire twentieth century. Throughout the twentieth century in the UK the popularity of crafts as domestic leisure pursuits fluctuated. Increased interest is reported to be primarily related to economic recession, where necessity is identified as being the greatest motivation for craft engagement; and craft engagement declines when the economy is more buoyant. There is evidence to support claims that the popularity of crafts in general experienced rise and fall throughout the 20th century correlating with times of austerity during economic downturns, thus suggesting that crafts were still largely taken up then as a necessity which could be contested. This paper reports briefly on the reasons behind the rise and fall of the hand knitting craft’s popularity throughout the last century in the UK before focusing on the latter decades in order to expose the factors related to the more serious decline of the craft in the 1990s. It discloses the perceptions of the craft at the end of the century and provides the foundation for the next stage of the research project which will involve an investigation of the craft in the early decades of the twentieth-first century. The paper draws predominantly on company and trade reports such as Keynote and Mintel and on previously unpublished survey materials from the late 1990s that were designed to explore the state of the hand knit craft at the close of the twentieth century.
Period6 Jul 2017
Event titleGlobal Fashion Management Conference: Fashion, Music and Design Management in a Networked World
Event typeConference
LocationVienna, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational