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Pandemic Hobbies: New-Found Interests in ‘Old-Fashioned’ Crafts

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — For many of us there’s only so much Netflix we can take before we feel the need to fill our time with something more productive. That’s why hobbies usually deemed “old fashioned” or something only your Grandma does, like cross stitch and knitting, are making a comeback.

“Since everyone has been staying home more there’s definitely been more interest in activities to do at home like picking up old hobbies. Even before all this, a lot of people who do cross stitch learned to cross stitch with their grandma when they were a kid and then dropped it for 20 years. Their picking it up now that they’re a young mom and trying to find something to do. So we’re getting a lot of people who have been keeping an eye on us but haven’t gotten into it yet, or who have found us as a great way to spend your time at home,” Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean, the Founder of Stitch People said.

Stitch People is an online cross stitch company that helps those learn the hobby with Do-It-Yourself (DIY) books. It takes a contemporary spin on the craft creating cross stitch family portraits.

Dabczynski-Bean said she’s seen double the business these past few months, but she isn’t the only one. A local West Des Moines business, Yarn Junction Co. is also seeing new faces purchasing their product for knitting.

“We’ve had moms that say ‘my daughters are driving me crazy. They need to learn how to knit.’ So on our Yarn Junction website we do have a tutorial video that they can learn to knit that way. They can curbside pickup the needles and the yarn, and then get the instruction on our website,” Co-owner of Yarn Junction Co. Beth Rowles said. “It’s amazing. We hear from a lot of our regular customers too who are like, ‘oh my gosh. I now have time to finish all these projects and I’m almost out of yarn.”

They’ve had to close their West Des Moines doors during this time, but are still doing online and curbside pick up orders.

Both Rowles and Dabczynski-Bean said there’s a lot to love about embroidery and knitting, but one thing that’s really standing out during this pandemic, is their calming and therapeutic ways.

“It’s very methodical and somebody says, ‘you know, I didn’t know I could go into such a knitting zone and everything else falls away.’ It’s great for your mental health, too. We’ve always, those of us who have been knitting all our lives, have always known that but it’s fun and exciting to see people really embrace it and love the process,” Rowles said.

Dabczynski-Bean said these hobbies are also ones with purpose. Projects can be given as gifts or even donated and that’s one of the many reasons cross stitching is one of her favorite pastimes.

“There’s that whole idea that creativity loves constraints, right. So when you’re working with cross stitches, it is a very specific type of stitch on a very specific type of fabric that keeps things a little bit square. It’s amazing to challenge yourself to figure out what kinds of details you can include in such a small space, and people are always stunned by what you can [create],” Dabczynski-Bean said.

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