Crochet Club Comes to USC

by Chloe Ehlers / Garnet & Black

Two USC students tangled in the art of crocheting are hoping to hook other students onto the craft.

Brooke Farley and Kaitlyn Clark are in the process of starting a crocheting club.

Not your Grandma’s Crochet Circle will help fill a need on campus. 

“Whenever I tell older generations, they’re always so surprised to hear that I’m crocheting because I’m a college student,” Farley said. “And that’s not what college students normally do. But I think the reality is, a lot of college students are crocheting. They want to learn how to do it. They’re interested in the craft.”

The cofounders of Not Your Grandma’s Crochet Circle both agreed that they can't escape the crochet; it's on their Instagram Explore Feed and their TikTok For You page. 

According to Life and Style, there were more than 15.5 billion views on videos tagged under 'crochet' on TikTok in February 2023. As of September 2023, that hashtag is up to 24.2 billion views. These hashtags are the work of crochet content creators, mostly comprised of Gen Z females. Crochet content creators have used TikTok and YouTube to share their creations, give tips to improve technique and even teach others how to crochet. 

Before we can talk about where crochet is now, we must rewind to crochet's last iteration. 

The 1960s began crochet's journey to fame. During this decade, fashion revolved around crochet everything. Think hats, sweaters, cardigans, vests, collars, bags; you name it; someone made it. 

By the 1970s, the modern-day granny square was born and took the spotlight among many fashion brands. 

Amber Killian, a guest writer of HanJan Crochet, described the granny square. Killian wrote, "They also allow you to play with different combinations of colours and stitches without investing a lot of time (and yarn!) into a project only to find you hate a stitch when worked in a certain colour or despise a particular colour combination." 

This allowed granny squares to be the focal design point for many crochet garments during the 1970s. And then suddenly crocheting started to slip further and further into the backs of people's closets. Fashion evolved and the once-beloved hobby lost its moment in the spotlight. That is, until 2020. 

One of the reasons for the recent rise in crocheting draws from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Statistically, Gen Z struggles more than any generation with mental health problems, the most common being anxiety," Holly Hughes of TheSocialTalks wrote. "This was revealed in 2022, when Harmony found that nine out of ten young people diagnosed with a mental health condition suffer from anxiety."

A study by Henry Ford Health in March 2022 found that crocheting helps slow the nervous system and reduce the number of stress hormones released. This is because the brain focuses on the activity instead of one's thoughts.

"Having a creative way of decompressing has always been important to me and that need has definitely been amplified since coming to college," USC student Izzy Ha said. "I’m excited to share my creative outlet with other students!" 

The Washington Post revealed that Gen Z was the most stressed by coronavirus — compared to millennials and Gen X.

Nearly half of those in the Gen Z age group said the pandemic had made their schooling and career aspirations tougher, according to a survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research with funding from MTV. 

The survey’s results added weight to earlier studies that have reported that younger Americans, especially those belonging to Gen Z, are experiencing isolation, loneliness and stress from the coronavirus pandemic.

To help feed off the loneliness while stuck at home, many Gen Z started investing in crochet hooks, needles, and their mental health and began their crochet journey. 

There was a 140 percent increase in the number of crocheters during the COVID-19 pandemic, GQ reported. 

Clark, like many Gen Z crocheters, learned how to crochet by watching YouTube videos during the pandemic.

But, the girls recognize this style of learning is not fit for everyone.

“Through creating a crochet club, I think we would make crocheting even more accessible to people,” Farley said.

And the students agree. 

"I want to join the crochet club because it will be a wonderful resource for crocheting, which I’ve been wanting to get into for so long but felt too overwhelmed to begin," USC student Polly Tappan said. "So, having a club with people who can teach and provide supplies is going to be the perfect starting point to a new hobby."

Farley and Clark will be among a crew of veteran crocheters who will guide newer crocheters.

The club is open to all skill levels; you do not need any prior fiber art experience to join.

Club meetings will focus on expanding your crochet toolbox by introducing you to the beginner fundamental crochet stitches and then challenging you to take on more advanced projects like creating your own granny square or pattern.

You will also have the chance to crochet service projects for those in need in the Columbia community including mats for the homeless.

You can also learn more about fiber arts through USC. The Honors College offers a knitting and philosophy class, aimed at teaching students how geography, economics and the roles of women as these relate to knitting as students learn to knit. 

"After taking a USC course about knitting, I became so curious about crafting, especially through knitting and crochet," Irene Drikakis said. "It became an incredible outlet to take my mind off of the business of the day, and make something special. I’m excited to continue this new hobby and see how it can grow."

Not Your Grandma’s Crochet Circle plans to host their first meeting in October on the Horseshoe.

“This is an open space, come over and ask what we’re doing,” Farley said.

Bring your curiosity, crochet hooks and yarn.  Do not fret if you do not own these supplies yet. The club founders said they will have extra hooks and balls for you to use.

For more details, check out the club’s profile on Garnet Gate.