Crafting Season

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Crafting Season
With illustration of four swatches of crochet fabric
Crafting Season

Crafting is something people do more during autumn and winter, and less during spring and summer. The period from September to January is called ‘Crafting Season’ as there is such an upsurge in crafting related sales at this time. This is something I didn’t know about this time last year as I was preparing to get started. In hind-sight, it’s very simple.

Text in images reads: Crafting Season. What is it? When is it? Will it affect me? Where is it?
what, when, where, how?

Imagine yourself curled up on the sofa, hot cocoa to hand, cosy warm house, while winter rain lashes the window pain outside. What do you picture yourself doing? If you are reading this blog, then there is a strong chance you imagine that scene involving some knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery or other craft, while Netflix plays something in the background.

Now picture yourself on a beach, the sun on your skin, the waves lapping the shore. What do you see yourself doing? There’s a few of us die-hard crafters who probably imagine bringing our yarn to the beach, but lets be honest, most don’t! And that’s OK. Crafting is a comfort activity a bit more suited to the colder and wetter months. Many enjoy it all the more because they automatically take a break and switch to other hobbies at other times of the year. In short, crafting is a bit seasonal.

There isn’t much information out there about crafting season. On the designer groups it is mentioned often, and everyone in those groups who are ‘in the know’ assume that you also know. But there are very few resources that clearly lay out in black and what what Crafting Season actually is. This post is aimed at those running brick-and-mortor craft shops, and is about the best I could find.

Autumn

Autumn. Crafting season begins in September. Sales boom for patterns, yarns, materials. Winter woo lies and Christmas gifts. Image of Odin the dog wearing a wooly hat
Autumn

Autumn (or ‘Fall’, for our American cousins) kicks off crafting season. As the schools reopen, the yarn, fabric and craft shops all get busy. Crafters tend to be planners, and Christmas is already in full swing in many minds by the dying days of August. So craft items that hold the promise of a scarf as a seasonal gift for Uncle Jimmy, or a nice Christmas ornament for Aunty Jane will already be selling and being made by some. Patterns and materials for toys, cold weather clothing, blankets, homewares, and so on will all be sought out. The list is limitless.If you can imagine it, someone, somewhere probably wants to make it. And it’s now when the nights are getting colder and darker that that urge to craft will probably come on many people.

Winter

Winter. Sales peak in December. January and February, sales are slowing down. Crafting Season is tapering off. Picture of Odin the dog sleeping on a crochet work in progress.
Winter

Cold weather brings the crafting season peak. By December most crafters are in a tizzy. Imagine yourself now pleading with everyone you know with a toddler to please, please, please measure their head – what size hat is the right size for a 2 year old anyway? Good grief, I bought the yarn for Uncle Jimmy’s scarf back in September, why haven’t I started making it yet? I know the ornaments for Aunty Jane were fun to make, but maybe I didn’t need to spend weeks making a whole set. She probably would have been happy with 2. Now I need a different scarf pattern, as that one would take longer than I’ve got. Oh, lordy, I just lost at yarn chicken, and that was Aldi yarn bought on special. Now I can’t get any more. PANIC!

Yup, that’s the peak of crafting season. Full of frantic energy. By the time the turkey is demolished, the wrapping paper has been cleared up and the decorations packed away for another year, many a crafter swears they never want to see another knitting needle or crochet hook as long as they live. But many more still feel the cold season, stretching ahead for the next few months yet, is the perfect time to finally make themselves something. Bigger, more personal projects may happen now for some. A winter jumper, or blanket, that won’t be given away. So crafting season doesn’t end totally abruptly on the 25th of December. It tapers off over the next couple of months.

Spring

Spring. Sales are slow. Crafting season is a distant memory.
Image shows Odin the dog cuddling with Major the pug and their friend Susan, who is wearing a Breeze over Greenore crocheted top.
Spring

Now is not crafting season! Sales are slow for pattern designers, or anyone else in the crafting sales industry. Maybe more people are getting back out into the garden, walking the dog more, or any other activity. What fewer people are doing is making purchases for crafting. For those who hope to sell patterns, expect sales to be sluggish. You aren’t doing anything wrong, it’s just a seasonal thing.

Summer

Summer. Sales are almost non existent. Get ready, the next crafting season is about to start with the new school year.
Summer

Hot weather is not a crafters best friend. Especially not for crocheters or knitters. I find it hard not to have a crochet blanket on the go at any time. It’s my autistic stim, my autistic special interest, and my hobby, all in one. But when the temperature goes over 20 celsius, it just starts to get so uncomfortable to have a big blanket draped over a lap. Heavy yarn across hands isn’t fun either. It all starts to feel sweaty and claustrophobic to be stuck under a big project. Not surprisingly, people craft less when the weather is warm, and don’t purchase as much crafting supplies either.

What does this mean for the pattern writer?

Pattern writing.
Takes 3-6 months
Summer - design in January
June, design for Christmas
I wish someone had told me!
Pattern Writing

For the designer who writes patterns, it means that it’s important not to get discouraged when sales are slow. Ask yourself, is it Crafting Season? Will sales possibly pick up in a few months?

It also means we should be launching the right patterns at the right times. Here’s a thing that sounds so simple – but I didn’t think of it last year as I was starting – launching patterns for winter woolies in mid spring is not smart. I’d created a couple of patterns while working full time. Once I gave up the day job, and decided to really think of myself as a (wannabe) designer, I started out with the Bluestack Mountain Mittens, which I launched in March 2022. And sold no copies for the next 9 months. Why? No brainer – people don’t buy patterns for winter garments in spring and summer. It seems to simple in hindsight. But when you are just starting out its easy to get caught up in the pattern, and not see these other realities.

I started by releasing a Winter mittens pattern in March.
But no one starts making winter woo lies in March.
And by next winter it’s ‘last years pattern’ - launch momentum is lost
Winter mittens in March was a mistake

Planning Ahead

Another issue that can take the new designer by surprise is how long it can take to get a pattern to launch. Concept – prototype – write pattern – tech edit – pattern test – launch. And for a larger multi sized garment it’s not unreasonable to run the test for 3 months to give testers a fair chance at completing. Which means that the designer needs to be working on their Christmas patterns in June. And their summer patterns in December. Think of designers when its hot outside. Not only are they still indoors crocheting or knitting, they are probably doing it in Aran or chunky, heavy pure wool.

What I’ve learned.
Planning ahead.
The world is big. It’s always summer somewhere.
Know your region. Not much market for winter woo lies in Australia.
Did I mention planning ahead?
What I’ve learned

All that said, one final point is that the pattern sales marketplace is a global market, and the world is a large, varied place. As you probably guessed reading this, I’m writing based in the northern hemisphere. If you follow my blog or Instagram, you may know I’m based in Ireland. When its winter here, it’s summer south of the equator.

And the geography of the world being what it is, there are not many parts of Australia, Africa or India where people are looking for thick warm winter wear for cold wet climates. But that’s what I design, because that’s what I live.

This regional variation adds opportunities, but not endlessly so, as they people living in your kind of climate, that you will design for, are probably on a similar timescale as you.

This leads on so so many topics. At some point I plan to add posts about sense of place, and how it can be important in design. This post was just exploring the idea of crafting season – the peak in sales from September through winter. And a bit of a hug to any other newer designers who find themselves hitting the market at the wrong time. Hang in there, we will grow and craft together!

By Ciara

I learned to knit as a young child, and came to crochet much later in life when I could no longer knit. Sharing the joy of crochet with sustainability and slow fashion in mind is a passion

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