CRAFTING is official cool. Homespun arts like knitting, embroidery, sewing and a host of other traditional crafts have now cast of their unglamorous image and are enjoying a boom thanks to television shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee.

The new popularity of crafting was underlined this weekend when 20,000 people flocked to Scotland’s largest craft fair to share their love of knitting, embroidery, stained glass and quilting.

More than 200 exhibitors gathered in Glasgow where three craft events came together – the Scottish Quilting Show, Stitching and Sewing, and Hobbycrafts – showcasing work that wouldn’t be out of place in an art gallery.

Intricate quilts in abstract designs, delicate papercraft, tapestries that tell the stories of communities, and embroideries inspired by Ancient Egypt and the exotic colours of the Brazilian rainforest, were on display at the Scottish Exhibition Centre.

Shannon Fisher, of organisers ICHF Events, said: “Crafts are more popular than ever with quilting showing the biggest rise.While 86 per cent of the people who attend the show are women over the age of 50, we are seeing a rise in the number of young people and men interested in crafts.

“TV shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee, and channels such as Create & Craft, have had a huge impact on the craft scene. The rising trends are for sewing, stitching and up-cycling [restoring old furniture], with sewing as the strongest hobby by far.

“Crafting gives people the chance to be creative - it’s calming and therapeutic, but also sociable. There has been a proliferation of crafting groups on the Internet that allow people with the same hobbies to come together.”

In a survey of more than 1,000 crafters, a third said crafting helps relieve stress. Crafting is also being embraced by the Hipster generation - seen as the key demographic in the UK by marketeers. As life become ever more hectic, crafting offers an escape from everyday pressures such as juggling work and home life. And more than half said creating with their hands provides a sense of pride and satisfaction.

The Internet and social networks have also helped crafting communities thrive and reach a younger demographic, with tutorials on YouTube, Facebook crafting groups and platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram allowing people to share their work and get feedback from fellow crafters.


One of the show’s highlights was The Tapestry of Renfrewshire, the brainchild of artist Andrew Crummy who designed the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which was displayed at the Scottish Parliament. Visitors to the show were invited to add their own stories to the Renfrewshire tapestry and become part of its history.

“There is a magic to tapestry work as history, community, art and the creativity of stitchers come together. Crafts are often overlooked by the art world but I’m continually amazed by the creativity of crafters, who are mostly women," said Crummy.

“When you bring all these women together to work on a tapestry it’s a powerful statement. They work together and become friends. I hope my tapestries help to highlight the skills and creativity of these women.”


A Cardigan for Cardigan was also a showstopper, drawing crowds to admire the five-metre-wide work of knitted art designed by Lisa Hellier and created by more then 300 knitters over nine-months. It depicts the people of Cardigan in Wales, and celebrates the town’s 900-year heritage.

Knitter and exhibitor Linda Cameron, of Hannalin Crafts, said: “I see more and more people turning to knitting, and using high quality wool. A lot of people don’t want to sit with their hands idle while they are watching television. I go to a knitting group and it’s very sociable. We talk about everything and there’s always someone to help if you get stuck.”


Catherine Waterson took up quilting when her children left home and she was faced with long hours alone while her GP husband was at work.

“I took a City & Guild embroidery course at the local college and attended a craft fair. When I saw the quilting stall, it was love at first sight. That was 32 years ago,” said Catherine, who is the chair of Glasgow Gathering of Quilters, and a member of Riverside Quilters.

“It’s such a sociable craft and I really believe it’s the absolute antidote for loneliness. Crafting keeps your hands and mind active – you lose yourself in it. And if you attend a group, you meet people and make friends.

“Since I started quilting, I’ve noticed a rise in craft shops and the internet has really opened it up.”


Nan Middleton took up 3D decoupage - a form of paper-cutting - 40 years ago after a friend came back from Labrador in Canada, where the hobby helps people while away the long winter evenings. She is now the director of charity Creative Crafts, which offers paper-crafting activities to people of all ages, including those with special needs.

“Life is so busy and people need some way to chill. We run Brackenbrae House in Glasgow, where people can come together to craft. Children come to learn better ways to spend their time, away from the iPad. Crafting classes are sociable and help people who are lonely. There have been studies to show that serotonin levels rise when people are doing crafts. They calm the spirit and quieten the mind. Decoupage is a papercraft that takes you right back to childhood when your mother would give you scissors and a magazine to make scraps.”

•Craft Scotland announced that Scottish craftmakers made around £100,000 sales at the American Craft Show in Baltimore last month. Twenty Scots crafters attended the show for the first time with their work proving a massive hit.