Whether it is knitting or crocheting, some people might look at yarn crafting as a hobby that is only suited for certain kinds of people. However, the Craft Yarn Council, a nonprofit trade organization, has been dedicated to breaking that stereotype for the last 35 years.
“You know, some people might be thinking, ‘Well, that’s my grandmother’s craft,’ when in reality it’s not anymore,” says Jenny Bessonette, executive director of the Carrollton nonprofit.
Since 1981, the Craft Yarn Council has represented the leading yarn companies, accessory manufacturers, publishers and consultants in the yarn industry. Although the organization comprises competitors, Bessonette says they all work together to raise awareness of yarn crafts and help the industry. The council does this through campaigns, programs and events throughout the year.
“For instance, we help Michaels stores with their knit and crochet classes,” Bessonette says. “We also have a certified instructors program that teaches anyone who knows how to knit or crochet how to teach others.”
In the past, the council’s campaigns have focused on specific yarn trends. Last year, for example, the organization promoted ways to make pompom and tassel patterns. This fall, the Craft Yarn Council will launch its People That Yarn campaign, which will showcase the people behind yarn crafting, Bessonette says.
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“People of all ages, male and female, young to old, are involved in yarn crafting, so that’s what we want to showcase with our campaign this fall,” she says. “The Craft Yarn Council and all of its members will be behind the campaign to launch it in the fall.”
In April 2015, the organization launched its Stitch Away Stress campaign, which promoted the health and wellness benefits of yarn crafting. According to an article by Jane E. Brody, health columnist for The New York Times, a 2009 University of British Columbia study of 38 women with anorexia showed that learning the craft lessened the women's fears about their weight. Another study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences indicated that crafting was tied to diminished chances of developing cognitive impairments and memory loss in those ages 70-89.
The Craft Yarn Council also works in collaboration with a foundation called Warm Up America. The foundation collects completed afghan blankets to distribute to charity organizations, which disperse them to homeless people and others in need.
The council will release a video documenting people’s experiences with yarn crafting at the launch of its campaign Sept. 4.