If you follow this blog regularly then you know that I really like the work that crochet artist Olek does. I also think she seems like a fun and funky person who is always doing interesting new things. But it’s tough to be that without sometimes also being controversial and some of the things Olek has said in the past has had me raising an eyebrow.

One of those things was back during the promotion of her London art show when the Village Voice quoted her as saying:

“Crochet came to me as a result of being totally broke … I had to make a costume in NYC and I had no cash for a sewing machine. I used any materials I could possible find … I even cut my sheets into strips to make pieces. Being resourceful is in my blood as you can see. Crochet is for poor people…that’s why you can find it in almost any culture across the globe. I am just a tiny spider who walked at night in East London collecting items soon to be transformed into crocheted pieces.”

At first I was enchanted by this quote, especially that last line! But then I got to wondering about that phrase – “crochet is for poor people”.

I do get what Olek is saying here. One of the really great things about crochet is that it is a highly affordable craft. Crochet hooks can be purchased for very little money and will last a very long time. Affordable yarn is widely available and if even that’s too much then you can always crochet with recycled fabric strips, plastic bags and other materials.

So I agree that crochet is an affordable craft (or at least it can be … my yarn stash says it can also be pricey if you let it!) But to say that it is for poor people … I don’t think I’d use that phrase myself. Crochet is popular these days but for a long time it was seen as a second cousin to knitting – the cheaper, “craftier”, lowbrow cousin … the cousin that lives on the wrong side of the tracks. I think fewer people think that today but I don’t think we’re so far away from those times that the idea should be reinforced.

What do you think? Is crochet for poor people?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. undergroundcrafter Reply

    Well… although obviously people of all economic classes can and do crochet, historically, crochet HAS been for poor people. I think that is a big part of the stigma associated with crochet in the US. I also think Olek likes to court controversy – she is, after all, an artist whose work deals directly with social roles and public/private issues, so we should be too surprised when she words things strongly :).

    • Actually knitting was for the poor, wjen crochet was invented in the early 19th century it was a hobby for wealthy women, lower classes were not allowed to crochet, they had to knit

  2. No – I don’t think crochet is for poor people. It is for creative people. :)

    While I’m here, I’d like to say that I don’t particularly like Olek’s work – I don’t think it’s attractive at all. (I hope I don’t get blasted for saying that)

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @dlyrs Nope, to each their own. There’s something about the graphic bold nature of her work that I really like – it looks very much like the street art she’s inspired by – but I can totally see why it wouldn’t suit everyone!

  3. June from PlanetJune Reply

    We should probably take into account that, as Olek is from Poland, English isn’t her first language. This sounds like a subtlety that a non-native English speaker could miss: the difference between “even poor people can afford to crochet” and “crochet is for poor people”…

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @June from PlanetJune Terrific point!! I hadn’t thought of that but it does make perfect sense.

    • @June from PlanetJune I’ll have to agree with you here! If she’d said, “Crochet is affordable…that’s why you can find it in almost any culture across the globe,” we probably wouldn’t have any quarrel with her! :)

      • danidoesdoilies Reply

        @yarnivore @June from PlanetJune You make a point! How many times have we read about people in European and third world countries using crochet as their livelihood.

  4. danidoesdoilies Reply

    I was pregnant with #4 (!) and needed to make the baby some clothing. I hadn’t made any dresses before so I crocheted her the Soft As Clouds dress from Simple Crochet for Cherished Babies. I will admit that I crocheted the dresses because there was a need. Although I had a need for the clothes I did not want her dresses to look cheap or to look as if I really needed them and that I could not afford to buy them. I heard an adage that said you want your clothes to look homemade, not handmade…or is it handmade, not homemade, I can’t remember! Well anyway, I didn’t want it to look as if those crocheted dresses were my little girl’s only option for attire. They were terribly inexpensive to make once your factored in the fact that I made at least 10 of them! The hook was already purchased and the yarn…well since it was for a newborn baby I went to the cost of purchasing special baby yarn. So to answer your question (finally!) crochet is probably for poor people (although I think June from PlanetJune make an excellent point.) I could have created her an entire wardrobe if I wanted to. I probably would have continued to make her darling little dresses and bonnets and diaper covers if she were in fact a girl! Two sonograms and a belly reader told me it was a girl, but in fact he was a she! Read all about it when my book is published someday!

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @danidoesdoilies I definitely want to read all about it! I do think it’s terrific that it’s possible to make beautiful garments for a fraction of the price of buying them and you’ve shared a great example of that.

  5. SuperNerdyHookr Reply

    I’m broke and I crochet, but I don’t crochet because I’m broke. I crochet because I am creative and find more outlets and inspiration with crochet. Using one hook I am better able to visualize where I have been and where I am going with a project. I work mostly with affordable yarns, but when I have extra cash on hand I splurge on luxury yarns.

    As for crochet being for the poor it is thrifty and practical in the same way that knitting is thrifty. I think any stigma associated with crochet comes more from the relative newness of crochet, first appeared in the west in the early 1800s.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @SuperNerdyHookr I’m loving all of these great comments – especially your first three sentences here which are so true and powerful!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • danidoesdoilies Reply

      @SuperNerdyHookr That’s something to research. Thanks supernerdyhookr!

  6. Definitely not. Was Queen Victoria poor? Its easy to transfer your own experiences on to others if that is what you want to see …

  7. No – crochet is certainly not for poor people. Was Queen Victoria poor? People crochet or do other crafts for reasons other than cost …

  8. Sacredcrocheter Reply

    I have to agree with the other commenters that felt Olek’s comment was being lost in translation. When I read it I felt proud to be a poor crocheter! I have seen poor people crochet with anything and everything they could find and it just lifts my heart to the sky. I own an amazing crocheted basket made with red, blue and white electrical wire left behind by work men in Jamaica. I bought the basket from an incredibly talented and incredibly poor woman living in a shack by the side of a road. I also own a beautiful rug that a poor woman crocheted from what was left of her husbands old work clothes. I treasure these pieces because they remind me that no hardship, no loss or poverty can silence the creative spirit.
    While it is possible to crochet amazing things when you have money-the true crochet artist emerges when everything has been taken away and all that is left is the unstoppable, burning desire to create.
    Crochet is the peoples’ craft!

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @Sacredcrocheter Great way of putting it – “crochet is the peoples’ craft”!!

  9. AndreaKline Reply

    Crocheting(and knitting too- I guess- I don’t knit or know) is being used in some programs for homeless women as a learning activity, a way to make something lovely and useful and also as a psychological tool. The programs generally ask for donated hooks and yarn due to cost and also as with supermarkets, there are not craft stores in the inner city- and the few IYS in cities are usually too pricey and not well located for someone with limited money.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @AndreaKline I’m so glad to hear that there are programs in homeless shelters like this. I know that there are also many prisons that offer crochet programs where inmates can use donated hooks and yarns to craft items for charity to “give back”.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @AndreaKline I’m so glad to hear that there are programs in homeless shelters like this. I know that there are also many prisons that offer crochet programs where inmates can use donated hooks and yarns to craft items for charity to “give back”.

  10. LilyGarcia Reply

    Is crochet for poor people??? Are you kidding me? Yarn is expensive! Lol. I actually have to save for a while before I can go stock up on yarn, and the infinite notions you need to create a PIECE OF ART. I think EVERYONE should learn this art and not let it die. Unfortunately many people don’t appreciate all the work and time that goes in to something, and the end up getting rid of it. I only gift my work to people I know will take care of it.

  11. I crocheted some pieces for my dolls when I was around 12. Now when I have almost 2 years old baby girl, the idea came back to me andI realised I can create something beautiful and unique. I am half way with my project, when my boyfriend came home and when I asked him what he think, he reply that he is used for it from people who dont have money. You can imagine that all my excitement was gonne until I read your comments here. I think its less comon these days to come across things which are handmade craft pieces (and usually quite expensive) and mass factory cheap production leads. I would really like to know why the handmade unique pieces in the top fashion shops are so expensive than (including crochet)

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