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Hart Closing after 14 Great Years

Thank you to our past industry study and market research clients, particularly TNNA, NAMTA, and Interweave/F+W. Thank you also to Hart’s long-time partners, designer Vicki Hopewell and editor Carol Rolland, who made our industry reports beautiful and authoritative. I’m proud of what we accomplished for the creative materials industry and community.

I will start a new business in 2017 that will enable me to spend more time in nature and with people. Keep an eye out for that new business and for my memoir that is nearing completion, Dinosaur Girl.

-India Hart Wood, Founder

Denver-Boulder Region Most Creative in USA

Sunrise over Denver skyline by Robert Kash
Sunrise over Denver skyline by Robert Kash

Denver-Aurora-Boulder has the highest participation rate in creative activities out of eleven major U.S. metropolitan areas, according to the National Endowment for the Arts Annual Arts Basic Survey (AABS). Adults in this Colorado region are ranked #1 or just below that for participation in the following creative activities:

  • Weaving, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, knitting, or sewing (#1)
  • Pottery, ceramics, or jewelry (#1)
  • Leather, metalwork, or woodwork (#1)
  • Films or videos (#1)
  • Visual arts including paintings and sculptures (#2)
  • Artistic photographs (#2)
  • Creative writing (#3)

Colorado has a dynamic creative environment. The state government invests in creative communities via Colorado Creative Industries. Major creative companies and organizations here include Schacht Spindle, a manufacturer of weaving and spinning equipment, F+W Media (Interweave), a crafts content publisher; Craftsy, an e-learning and ecommerce company; H.R. Meininger, a chain of art supply stores; Terry Ludwig Pastels, a maker of handmade fine art pastels; Lighthouse Writers Workshop; and the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA).

The AABS study reports participation rates for major metro areas including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Data was collected by the U.S. Census as of 2014 and was released in August 2016.

The State of the Yarn Market 2016: Views from TNNA, CYC, and YMN

2016 will bring three different studies of the yarn market, from The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA), Yarn Market News, and the Craft Yarn Council. What is each one good for? How do they differ?

tnna-sosna-logo-2016-smThe State of Specialty NeedleArts (TNNA)

Use this study to understand the state of the fiber arts industry. This consists of fiber artists, specialty retailers, wholesalers, and each market segment (knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, needlepointers, cross-stitch, and embroidery). The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) has sponsored The State of Specialty NeedleArts, including The State of Specialty Yarn, in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2016. This is THE authoritative study of U.S. yarn and needle work market size, growth, and trends. The new study is in the spring of 2016.

This study in 2013 included the results of surveys of 12,475 knitters, 2,892 crocheters, 1,302 weavers, 898 spinners, 841 needlepointers, 2,979 cross-stitchers and embroiderers, 670 yarn retailers, 96 needlepoint retailers, 115 counted thread retailers, and 225 needlearts wholesalers, plus industry interviews and reviews of government and corporate data. All surveys are strictly anonymous.

Tracking Study (Craft Yarn Council)

Use this study to get an in-depth view of knitting and crochet consumers from the perspective of mass-market yarn manufacturers and crafts chain stores. This study only includes a consumer survey. A two-page summary is available from 2014. CYC anticipates releasing a new study in early 2017.

 YMN 2016 Retailer Survey (Yarn Market News)

Use this study to get a view of current issues and trends at specialty yarn retailers. YMN conducted a 50-question survey of yarn retailers in January 2016. They will present the results at their March 2016 conference.

Note: Hart Business Research produces The State of Specialty NeedleArts for TNNA.

2012 NEA SPPA Data on Visual Arts Participation Not Accurate

nea-sppa-2012-coverDo not use the change from 9% in 2008 to 5.7% in 2012 regarding visual arts participation. Other data indicates participation has not decreased for “traditional” visual arts. The National Endowment for the Arts Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (NEA SPPA) data for 2008 and 2012 indicate visual arts participation decreased by about one-third. Not so. The drop is because the NEA changed the question context and wording from 2008 to 2012.

The question context changed from a list of participation questions in 2008 to making painting and sculpture an afterthought to digital art creation in 2012. The 2008 question was “During the last 12 months did you do any painting, drawing, sculpture, or printmaking activities?” The 2012 question was “During the last 12 month did you create any other visual art, such as paintings, sculpture, or graphic design?” The phrasing makes the previous question about creating with digital tools the default visual art activity. This is not how artists see it. Hart surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. artists in December 2014. Artists use digital tools alongside traditional materials and use the digital realm to share what they create. Digital and physical art exist together.

The 2012 SPPA question wording left out drawing and mixed media. This would easily decrease the participation rate by one-third. 67% of artists participate in drawing. 53% of artists create mixed media. Ideally the question would ask “During the last 12 months did you create any paintings, drawings, mixed media, or three-dimensional art?”

The 2015 NAMTA Artists and Art Materials Study concludes 22 million U.S. adults, about 9% of the population, created paintings, drawings, or sculpture in 2014. This is based upon sales data from major art materials suppliers and retailers, artist surveys, and college fine art degrees awarded.

Survey Methodology Insights for State of Specialty NeedleArts 2013

Can you trust the results of TNNA’s State of Specialty NeedleArts surveys of needle arts enthusiasts and make business decisions based upon them? Yes. The survey questions are valid and reliable, the number of responses statistically significant, and the sample valid.

All of the questions on The State of Specialty Needle Arts surveys (and any other Hart surveys) have been pretested to ensure they are valid and reliable. This includes administering the questions to people one-on-one and making sure each question is easily understood; if a question is confusing we rewrite it until it is understandable.

The spending questions are intentionally top-level. People would have difficulty remembering exactly what they spent on knitting needles, for example, so spending questions are kept more general. People also get frustrated if questions are too detailed. Ideally the study would pay people to keep spending diaries or conduct monthly spending surveys, but then research costs would rocket to $250,000 or more, which would be crazy for the needlearts industry. (The cost of the TNNA study was way, way less than that.) The per needle artist spending medians and percentages per product category have been validated by the industry and by major retailers, who say it is close to what they see in their own businesses. The spending percentages per product category and spending per person have been consistent over the nine years we have been conducting the surveys.

12,000 responses to a survey (in the case of knitters) is way more than needed, but is great for looking at slices of the market. 450 responses is enough for a valid sample, assuming the sample is not biased. Given the range of sources that contributed respondents, the knitter and crocheter response sets are a valid sample of knitting and crochet enthusiasts. Remember these are enthusiasts and not just any person who picked up a knitting needle in the past year. Also, note this was an online survey available to anyone, so we did not control where responses came from. We did not track IP addresses or referring URLs, to protect anonymity. People reposted the survey links all over the place. The survey did ask people what Web sites, Facebook pages, etc. respondents used, and they were a wide range.

So, in sum, The TNNA State of Specialty NeedleArts studies use a cost-effective research methodology that generates data you can depend on for good business decisions. For more information see the study overview.

How Much Do Knitters and Crocheters Spend on Patterns?

Further Hart analysis of TNNA’s State of Specialty NeedleArts 2013 data reveals that 63% of knitting enthusiasts and 51% of crochet enthusiasts purchased patterns in 2012. Both knitters and crocheters who bought patterns typically spent $50 on patterns that year. 5% of knitter spending and 6% of crocheter spending was on patterns, according to the Market Summary for the State of Specialty NeedleArts 2013. Hart calculates the total enthusiast market for knitting and crochet patterns was about $31 million in 2012.

This data is based upon April 2013 surveys of 12,475 knitting enthusiasts and 2,892 crochet enthusiasts for TNNA’s State of Specialty NeedleArts study, produced by Hart Business Research. Special thanks to the designers at the 2014 San Diego TNNA show who asked this question!

Fiber Arts Participation Increased 2008-2012, NEA Says

The new National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts indicates 31.5 million U.S. adults participated in fiber arts in 2012, an increase of 2 million people since 2008. These participants did weaving, crocheting, knitting, quilting, needlepoint, or sewing. The NEA uses U.S. Census survey data, so it is highly accurate.(See Hart comment on a 2012 NEA fiber arts methodology change.)

The NEA has been tracking fiber arts participation for 20 years. The percentage of adults participating in fiber arts has gone down by about half in that period:

  • 1992: 24.8%
  • 2002: 16.0%
  • 2008: 13.1%
  • 2012: 13.2%

NEA Fiber Arts Participation Methodology Note

This methodology note comments on the posting regarding growth in fiber arts participation.

Hart notes there was one methodology change to the fiber arts group definition in 2012 that likely did not affect participation rates in the group: The NEA added knitting to “weaving, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, or sewing.”  Hart analysis indicates this did not affect participation rates because the group of adults doing weaving, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, or sewing already includes nearly all the knitters since so many knitters also do at least one of the other fiber arts. The Craft and Hobby Association Attitude & Usage Study data for the year ending 3/31/2011 shows the average fiber arts (“needle craft” in CHA terminology) participant does 1.6 different fiber arts, as calculated by Hart Business Research. For example, for knitters 48% also crocheted, 25% or more also sewed, and 21% quilted.