With spare time and growing anxiety, people – men, women and children – are turning to knitting.
Experts agree that knitting is a great way to reduce stress, focusing your attention on the task at hand and producing something tangible that you can be proud of.
Since the coronavirus hit, global sales of We Are Knitters, a beloved brand known for its bagged kits and vibrant community, have grown by more than 75% per week.
Even more impressive is the spike on Instagram, where more than half a million subscribers log on to the brand and show off their creations. Since March 12, their Instagram reach has grown by over 50%, reaching an all-time high of three million unique accounts, and their Stories have been viewed over two and a half million.
Tomorrow, Saturday March 28, We Are Knitters will be hosting a beginner knitting workshop on Instagram Live at noon EST and a beginner crochet workshop concurrently on Sunday March 29.
Mark your calendars because if you’ve ever thought about learning to knit or crochet, now is the time.
I contacted the founders Pepita Marín and Alberto Bravo, who will totally change your perception of this secular profession.
Tell us a bit about your experience.
We are both 32 years old and based in Madrid. We both studied commerce and met in 2009 while we were working as consultants at PwC. We became friends and after two years we decided to quit our jobs and started We Are Knitters.
What made you decide to create We Are Knitters?
While we were working for PwC, we went to visit a friend in New York. It was around 2010. We realized there were so many cool yarn stores with colorful fibers, people knitting in cafes, and one day we saw this super hipster girl knitting in the Metro. Nothing like this was happening in Spain. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We thought if this was a trend in the United States, it would become popular in Europe in about two to three years. It was before Facebook and Instagram.
Were you a knitter at the time?
We weren’t knitters at all! We tried back home and found that if we could learn with video tutorials we found on YouTube, anyone could! This is how we decided to launch We Are Knitters.
What was missing in the knitting community and what made your product different?
Back then, in Spain and most of Europe, yarn shops and knitting patterns were out of fashion. Knitting was something that seemed to be reserved for a different generation. Also, since we were totally newbies, we found that it was difficult to choose the right yarn, pattern for that yarn, needles, etc. Having all of these items included in one kit and not having to think about it was really handy. We decided to make it very simple and include everything you need in one kit so that you just have to choose the design, color and size. We provide all the tools.
In addition, our templates are written in a very easy to follow manner. We also have plenty of video tutorials on our website, in case you’ve never knitted before or want to learn new techniques.
What are some of the stats / demographics of knitting – who does it and how has it changed over time?
Studies show that about 45 million Americans can knit or crochet, and one-third of them buy supplies at least once a month. We have noticed over time how our customers have changed and how they have changed their behavior as well. At the very beginning, it was mostly women between the ages of 25 and 40 who wanted to learn a new hobby and thought knitting was cool and trendy. Over time, they learned that they loved it and made it part of their daily lives. Some people say knitting is the yoga of the 21st century. Older customers have discovered the brand through their sons and daughters and what they value most is the quality and colors of our yarn. We see that more and more men are starting to knit and are not afraid to show it! It’s great indeed.
Who is your main customer?
99% are women but we are seeing more men trying it out. People aged 25 to 40 typically buy kits, and people 40 and over normally buy supplies. They already know how to knit and want to create their own patterns.
What is the most popular kit?
We have a lot of bestsellers, but the Downtown Snood has been one of our most popular kits since the very beginning. This kit has only one skein of thick wool, it is made for beginners and it is the perfect kit for anyone who wants to start with zero experience.
Tell us about knitting in the time of the coronavirus.
Well, here are some of the words from our clients these days:
“Knitting and crochet can be so therapeutic, and in times of panic this is exactly what everyone needs! “
“I hope you realize what service you provide to your customers and how much we appreciate it. As someone struggling with anxiety, knitting helps calm my mind. Your kit will most certainly give me a “break” from everything that is going on in the world right now. “
For the past two weeks, we have been receiving this kind of comments and messages on social media all the time. Knitting occupies your mind, reduces your stress level, and also improves your self-esteem when you realize that you are able to create something with your own hands.
There are a lot of young mothers who teach their children the basics. It helps children to concentrate on an activity for a while and improves their creativity and psychomotor skills. We’re happy to hear that knitting is helping many people cope with these strange times in a more positive and productive way.
Is it difficult to learn to knit?
As with any new skill, you have to be patient to learn. At first you will make mistakes, but you can always start over. There are endless options for points; you just need to learn the basics – knitting and purl – then start to combine them. One of the best things about knitting is that once you’ve learned it you’ll never forget; it’s like riding a bicycle.
What’s the best way for people to learn to knit?
There isn’t just one way, but in our experience, we think it’s always good to start with some thick and chunky yarn, big needles, and a small project that doesn’t take a lot of time. time to complete. This way, you will see results fairly quickly and you will feel encouraged to keep going. In addition, our knitting tutorials are really useful for those who have never tried it before as they are filmed in such a way that you just have to imitate what you are watching.
Tell a little about your community.
Knitters are our priority, and our community is a key point of We Are Knitters. Over the years, we have been able to build a real network of makers who help each other, share tips, comment on their projects. Sometimes we don’t even have to go back to questions on Instagram because someone else has already answered for us! Since we as a civilization are no longer used to doing things with our hands, once you start seeing results the first thing you want to do is post about it on Instagram. It makes a lot of people think that if their friends, sister or coworker could do it, they can do it too! We’ve always encouraged people to share their projects using the hashtag #weareknitters (which now has over 250,000 posts) so we can see how they’re doing.
How are you and the knitting community coming together during this difficult time?
We really try to make this as easy for everyone as possible. Two weeks ago we realized that our sales were increasing day by day, so we started offering free shipping on all orders. We also launched this huge #StayAtHome #ChooseJoy campaign on Instagram to encourage people to stay home. We share photos and videos of people knitting and having a great time at home so people can see that they are not alone in this case. Most of us are homebound right now. The message is basically “this is what it is. You can either choose to be sad and blue or you can try to make the most of this situation and choose joy. We are tagged hundreds of stories daily. It’s really great to be honest and genuine. We also did, for the very first time, a 48h promo on patterns sold separately without having to buy the complete kit, and the makers loved it. Last weekend we ran knitting and crochet workshops on live Instagram and over 15,000 people watched these tutorials. I think we really need to help each other during this difficult time and try to enlighten each other as much as possible.
What surprised you the most about your business?
I am thinking of the manufacturer community itself. It’s not just another business. It’s so special, in the best possible way. Knitting is something people do on their own at home, so when they finish a project they are very proud of it and the first thing they want to do is share it with the world through Instagram. It made us a bit viral which is fun! It’s a very strong and connected community.
One of our most significant and surprising accomplishments, however, is seeing people, after knitting their own sweaters, realize the true value of handmade items. They begin to understand and appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into them and why they are more expensive. We are encouraged by this change in consumer perception.
We hope people find the joy of knitting during this time when they have to stay home, and make it a lifelong passion. Once we can leave our homes again, our bags are easy to carry so you can keep knitting on the go!