“We’re seeing low-wage workers not wanting to go back to their jobs. They realize, ‘I’m more important than this and I want to be doing something more worthwhile,’” Ms. Deal said. “Being able to create something yourself and be creative and produce something useful, either for yourself or for someone else, I think there’s a huge amount of satisfaction in that.”
‘When you’re sort of frightened of going out, you knit more.’
As stress and uncertainty about the future starts to diminish, however, even just a little — due largely to the availability of vaccines and the lifting of pandemic restrictions — it’s unclear what role crafting will continue to play in the lives of those who adopted it as a stress relief measure during an extraordinarily trying year.
Rita Bobry, who was the owner of Downtown Yarns for 17 years before she retired and passed the store to Ms. Ruiz, remembers well a similar moment of post-traumatic crafting in the city. In 2001, when her shop had only just opened, she welcomed anxious New Yorkers who were turning to knitting as a way to self-soothe following the attacks on Sept. 11. On that day, the air outside the yarn store was thick with dust but Ms. Bobry decided that the store would remain open. Lighting candles to put in the window, she opened her door to passers-by.
“I think people were staying home more, they were wanting to be in groups, in communities; a lot of people lost their jobs, too,” Ms. Bobry said. “When you’re not working, you knit more. When you’re sort of frightened of going out, you knit more.”
The yarn store became a sort of gathering place. “People who were feeling lost just walked in,” Ms. Bobry said.