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The unexpected resurgence of knitting and sewing

The newest phone, the newest car and the newest way to communicate and connect have been our cultural obsessions for decades.

But a resurgence of old-time crafts and craftsmanship is our new rebellion against the harm technology can do to our lives.

Beyond the fads of “vintage” and “retro” memorabilia is a resurrection of arts and skills that have been rapidly fading and becoming forgotten … until recently.

Particularly in regional towns, residents are increasingly turning their backs on their devices and picking up “heritage crafts” such as knitting, sewing and crochet.

Far from an “old lady’s pastime”, these activities are spreading from town to town, grandparent to child, man to woman.

“Heritage is the new ‘cool’,” Country Women’s Association of WA Nyabing branch president Alyson Cooper says.

“We’ve had 30-odd years of technology making us closer across the world and bridging time and geography, and yet we’ve all grown disconnected and distanced from real human contact.”

She added heritage crafts were surging in popularity across the State and satisfying the growing need for connection and company in regional towns.

Owner of Kalgoorlie store Sew Much Yarn Julie Dalla-Costa agreed there had been a clear resurgence of old crafts such as knitting, which prompted her to open her store in 2016.

“Every generation is picking it up,” she said. “Young people are coming to it for the first time and older generations are coming back to it after learning it years ago.”

Ms Dalla-Costa pressed the importance of the pastime in rural communities, which typically suffered as a result of transient workforces and lack of mental health services.

“A lot of people are having issues with mental health,” she said. “And Kal is such a transient town, people are looking to pick up new things that lets them meet new people.”

Regional residents also have a lower tolerance for all things commercial and mass-produced, which makes many doggedly seek out the authentic and hand-made, according to Heather Bordessa.

“People are getting fed up with the commercial,” Ms Bordessa, past secretary of the Albany Spinners Club, said. “They want to get back to having something personal and handmade, so are getting into the old crafts themselves.”

Despite being typically associated with women, the old-time crafts were surpassing gender barriers and being picked up by men as well.

Lindsay Cohen of Dunsborough said no matter the age or gender, everyone was feeling the pressures of modern society and were being increasingly attracted to activities of the past.

Ms Cohen holds Knit like a Thug workshops in town on Tuesdays, to encourage men to overcome their uncertainties and get involved.

“The world is unstable and we all want something we can tangibly hold on to these days,” she said.

“Knitting and sewing are definitely making a resurgence over the last five or so years and it’s simply a reaction to everything going so fast. It’s even more important in regional towns, where there’s the added isolation on top of that. People come together when they do these crafts and are able to connect, really connect.”

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