Craft revival 'sees UK wool industry boom'

Dublin's Knitting and Stitching Show nears

The recent boom in knitting and crocheting is not only teaching a generation some useful skills, it's also proving to be great news for the UK wool industry.

Bill Waterhouse from Bulmer and Lumb, a textile manufacturer in Yorkshire, told the BBC this week: "There has been a resurgence in hand knitting, which uses a lot of British wool.

"The craft was nearly extinct five years ago, but the recession has turned it around, just as it has in North America and Scandinavia."

He went on to explain how the industry does well in times of recession, which may seem a paradox given that wool can be more expensive than synthetic fibres.

However, Mr Waterhouse said: "In times of austerity people are looking for things that will last longer. They want to keep warm and they also want to occupy themselves."

It's not only been hand knitting in the home which has taken off over the past couple of years, as new phenomena such as yarn bombing have also been hugely popular, as well as ambitious charity projects.

Rachael Matthews, who runs the Prick Your Finger craft shop in Bethnal Green, east London, told the BBC that the outdated image of grannies sitting in armchairs is not the case anymore, as people of all ages are enjoying making things from wool.

"A craft takes years and years to develop so people think of old ladies because they tend to be good at it," she joked, however this is often because they have had time to properly hone their skills.

Ms Matthews was keen to point out that knitting was becoming far more popular with younger people and men.

"Most people have jobs where they are part of a machine, but they never see the beginning, the middle and the end and take responsibility for the whole thing.

"With knitting, you start something, sort out the problems and finish it. There is a great sense of achievement," she went on to say.

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