The National NeedleArts Association conducted a survey, “The State of Specialty Needle Arts” in 2007 to determine what’s going on in the world of needlecraft. It was the third such study the association has conducted since 2001. I found the results of the survey interesting and thought By Hand readers might also.

According to the report, specialty needle artists make stitching a part of their lives, do projects regularly and like to read about the subject. (Sound like anyone you know?) They knit, crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch or do other forms of embroidery.

The survey estimates that as of 2006 1.7 million people in the United States are needle arts consumers. Of that number, 913,000 are knitters, 504,000 crochet, 71,000 do needlepoint, and 229,000 do embroidery of one kind or another.

Those numbers translate, of course, to the amount we spend for needlework supplies and materials, which increased from $1.07 billion to $1.38 billion from 2004 to 2006. Knitters spend $748 million each year; crocheters, $354 million; needle-pointers, $98 million; cross-stitchers, $177 million; and embroiderers, $7 million.

(It remains to be seen how the current economic crisis will affect the buying habits of needleworkers.)

The survey reveals that the Internet is playing a greater role in determining where needleworkers spend their dollars. Twenty-five percent of knitters, 15 percent of needlepointers, 20 percent of crocheters and 37 percent of cross-stitchers buy supplies at Web sites, an increase of 12 percent to 25 percent from 2004 to 2006. However, 51 percent of knitters, 71 percent of needlepointers, 17 percent of crocheters and 40 percent of cross-stitchers buy supplies at independent specialty stores. (Good news for anyone contemplating opening a shop.)

Oh, and get this, the survey indicates that needleworkers across the board planned to spend more on supplies in 2007 than they did in 2006. (Which could mean that floors at home will groan under the weight of increased stash piles — why is it that surveys never mention such things?)

The average amount a knitter spent in 2007 was $819, followed by $805 for a cross-stitcher and $702 for a crocheter and $1,377 for a needlepointer. (Maybe the survey needs a category for amounts spent on low-cost yarn found at Marden’s and thrift shops, or amount of yarn obtained free at the Hampden Transfer Station.)

As for the number of projects done each year — 21 for knitters, 41 for crocheters, 10 for needlepointers and 17 for cross-stitchers — clearly, “with needle in hand” is no understatement.

Crocheters spend twice as much time and do twice as many projects as knitters. They donate to charity more than one-third of what they make and give away another third as gifts. (Maybe someone ought to do a survey to find why crocheters are so altruistic.)

Now here’s the only number in the survey that worries me — the number of independent needle arts shops in the United States as of 2007 is 3,110. Of those, 2,230 are yarn shops, 320 are needlepoint shops and 520 cater to cross-stitchers. Surely, we need more needlework shops than that throughout the United States. I think Maine is in pretty good shape, though, because by my own terribly inexact gathering of information, Maine now has approximately 44 shops that sell yarn and items related to other kinds of needlework, such as fabric. (Maybe it really is those long, cold winters that keep us reaching for another skein of yarn.)

Anyway, more than 3,000 shops nationwide had sales of $590 million in 2006, including $65 million in sales related to the needle arts.

It all comes down to this: in 2007 1,700,000 specialty needle arts consumers spent $1.4 billion on something they love doing.

Visit for a copy of the survey.


• Maine products created by Maine artisans will be the feature of the 20th annual Bangor Arts and Crafts Show set for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Bangor Auditorium.