Posted in Indie Business

Craft Mania


I got myself all riled up to write a post about this article on the BBC website recently but then lost momentum with all the house shit going on and my work being mental. You can read it for yourself and wonder why the BBC is always about 5 years behind the times on stuff like this, too.

What a waste of an opportunity to treat a whole British sub-industry seriously for once and give it the status it deserves. No, instead, they’ve gone with the all-too-familiar “look at these kooky kids and their little felt mice” angle that is prevalent on articles about craft in Britain.

It wouldn’t have taken much to swing it round to a proper article about independent businesses. But statements like this HELP NO ONE.

“This mouse is part of a trend, one of millions of handmade craft objects being made at home and sold online.”

No, Vanessa Barford, it’s not part of a trend. It’s a product for sale online that someone has designed and made, just like any other.


“The craft calling can be seen as an extension of the knitting craze which took off about 10 years ago.”

Ummm, what? I am pretty sure that knitting has been around for thousands of years, love. Also, it’s not a craze. I don’t have figures to hand, I’m not that kind of scientologist, but I’d wager the UK knitting industry alone, without taking other crafts into consideration, is worth millions.

Hobbycraft turned over £95.2 million last year. That’s not a craze. And that’s just one shop, albeit a big un.

I was quite pleased though to see biscuit-pusher Nikki McWilliams get a good proper feature as part of this article though – why couldn’t the rest of it have been so positive?

I don’t think I can expound on this much further without getting into a Hulk rage. What did you think of the article?



I’m Claire and I live near Glasgow, in Scotland. I have strong family ties to Cincinnati, too and regard it as my second home. If I had to describe myself in five words, it would be thus: Does. Not. Suffer. Fools. Gladly. I’ve been cross stitching pretty much all my life, but professionally since 2005, first as Miso Funky, then as The Bellwether and now under my own name. I'm known for my witty, sarcastic and occasionally profane typographic designs. My work has been featured in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Channel 4 and on BBC television as well as numerous media outlets across the globe. At one point, I was kind of a big deal but I mostly just dabble in it these days when I have time. My website is a repositry of cross stitch charts, travel and food blogging and you'll find it at I also love to travel and eat, ideally travelling somewhere great to eat something brilliant. I'm fascinated by social history, particularly the Victorians and will absolutely beat you hands down in a quiz about the Tudors. Dogs are LIFE. I like being in water and have lots of ideas that will never see the light of day but would definitely be a winner on Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank. I love to give people gifts. I! also! overuse! exclamation! marks! sorry!

10 thoughts on “Craft Mania

  1. I agree. I was equally riled up when I read it.

    It’s like she don’t have a clue what’s going on with crafts. Most of us may be small businesses, but we’re businesses nonetheless – and all those wee businesses make up a whole lot of cash. Serious cash. Because it’s serious business.

    This article, and others of its ilk, make it seem like craft isn’t something to take seriously. Dear Ms Barford: please research your pieces better. And show a little respect. Don’t belittle other people’s job just because it doesn’t seem like a proper job to you.

    – Which is the feeling I’m getting from reading the article.


  2. I didn’t pay the article much heed at the time as I just thought it was a bit of fluff, but you’re quite right . It’s not exactly treating the craft industry as just that an ‘industry’, instead making it seem like a flash in the pan trend. Crafts aren’t taken particularly seriously in the UK, it’s seen as hobbyist and lowly. There are lots of attitudes to be changed before the public will realise that craft is an entrepreneurial career!


  3. Yes the tone was all a bit sneery wasn’t it. And its things like this that also prevent craft work being taken seriously when it comes to charging proper money too. It’s come to the point, I feel anyway, that now if you are a craftsperson and call your work craft, you can expect a good lot of otherwise uneducated (in the handmade way of things I mean) people to fling up their arms in disgust when something you spent 10 hours making doesn’t cost a fiver. It’s attitudes like this peddled in the mainstream that prevent handmade business from being taken seriously in the UK.


  4. When I read this bit:

    She says her customers, which include John Lewis, Next and Heal’s, are always looking for new talent, and she scans Etsy and Folksy on a daily or weekly basis for up and coming artists and designers.

    I thought I bet you do. It’s rare that someone is plucked from etsy or folksy but it’s a common theme on blogs etc that independent designers are ripped off. Not on the high street recently had knocks off’s of Nicki Mc Williams work on their facebook page.

    I thought the article was really patronising and that folksy dude banging on about crafters not doing it for the money.

    Fuck that I am in it for the money. Yes I love design and craft but at the end of the day it’s my day job too. I quit the other day job so something has to pay the bills.

    I hate this mania that if you make something you have to sell it. I like knitting but I have no desire to sell anything. I just like to make things to please myself and to occasionally give as gifts if I haven’t screwed it up too much.


    1. When I saw that comment (“She says her customers, which include John Lewis, Next and Heal’s, are always looking for new talent, and she scans Etsy and Folksy on a daily or weekly basis for up and coming artists and designers.”), I also thought, yeah, I bet you do. I thought “on the look out for up and coming artists and designers… to rip off.

      Totes with you in just about all you’ve said – if you’re not in it for the money, to some level, then you’re not doing it right, in my opinion.


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