Inflation and younger crafters are sparking a renewed interest in homemade and crafty gifts

Colored thread for sale at Fancy Tiger Crafts on South Broadway. July 27, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Colored thread for sale at Fancy Tiger Crafts on South Broadway. July 27, 2022.

With the holidays upon us, Colorado shoppers are turning to local crafting and knitting stores for gifts, and for some, homemade presents are more than just a means to save money as historic inflation impacts this holiday season.

“We have had an increase in people who are looking for more meaningful gifts,” said Kim Dettke, co-owner of Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver. “So maybe even if the raw materials are going up, they're still not having to buy as much or put as much money down to have something that means more.” 

In addition to classic standbys, such as homemade hats and scarves, Dettke has seen an uptick in practical gifts, like beeswax wrap for storing food and reusable drawstring bags to replace gift wrap. Needle-felting, a technique that uses a barbed needle to sculpt wool into small shapes or animal figurines, is another of Dettke’s favorite options for the holidays. 

“And it's really therapeutic because you kind of just stab it until it looks good,” Dettke said. “Who doesn't need to kind of stab something until it looks good this time of year, right?”

Dettke said she saw a surge of new crafters during the pandemic and statistics support her observation. According to the most recent consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, spending on pets, toys and hobbies grew nearly 13 percent nationwide between 2020 and 2021. 

But Colorado stores aren’t just seeing more crafters: they’re seeing more young crafters. 

“I think people like to give gifts that they've put thought and intention into,” said Jamie Luckasen, who owns My Sister Knits in Fort Collins. “I'm seeing that more, even with younger people, that they wanna be makers.”

Some young crafters may also be motivated to make gifts and clothes as part of a growing movement to repair and reuse items and clothing. Polls show that millennials and members of Generation Z are more concerned with climate change and the environment. Buying used goods and clothes or repairing items instead of purchasing new ones can both save money and avert the environmental damage caused by mass-produced goods. 

Dettke said one new trend is teens and 20-somethings introducing their parents to crafting.

“We've had a lot more people come in and they're like, ‘Oh, you know, my daughter or my son knows how to make all these beautiful things, and we're gonna take this class together and they're gonna help me learn,’” she said.

Julie Luckasen, who owns My Sister Knits in Fort Collins, has also seen more young knitters in her store and at Tuesday night knit-ins. Luckasen said customers purchasing knitting supplies are also concerned with where wool comes from and how it’s made. When My Sister Knits stocks wool from Wyoming, “we’ll sell it like crazy,” she said. 

“I mean, people wanna know the stories,” Luckasen said, “And I like that too. It's like, ‘Oh, I know where it's coming from. I know where it's sourced. I know we're, you know, giving back by purchasing it.’”

For anyone hoping to make their own gifts this year, Dettke said to “start earlier than you think you need to” because “generally, they take a little longer than you expect.” But for those who may not have time to make something from scratch, setting time to craft with friends and family or signing up for a class together can be just as nice.

“I think more people should get to make things with the people that they love,” Dettke said. “It's a fun thing to do, but then it's also really satisfying to have that finished object at the end.”