Mass Market vs. Handmade + Crochet

Aug 23

Comez Crochet Machine via CrochetConcupiscence.com
Comez Crochet Machine via Crochet Concupiscence

I discovered something new about Crochet! I came across a heated-ish discussion on Twitter the other day about Mass Market vs. Handmade which led me to the discovery above. And the question – Is there such a thing as machine-made Crochet? Knitted items are easily mass produced without a human hand in sight. And are commonly found in many goods and apparel. But what about Crochet? But before we get into that…

At What Point Is Something Mass Market?
It’s an awkward question in general because it really depends on the context. There are also generally accepted industry and business standards on how mass-market is defined in order to provide rules and regulations for how that business is to operate. But the thread itself got me thinking where the line was drawn for me. I wished I could link to the actual conversation but Twitter sucks. It’s also an interesting topic these days especially because Handmade and Handcrafted has been having a resurgence or renaissance of sorts. Partially in part to the Internet which ironically enough is also responsible for making many a good and service more “global” and more one-size-fits-all at the same time.

@spacecadetcreat, @mk_caroll, @lornaslaces, and @glamsmitten were debating the line between mass market and hand-crafted. Where is the line drawn?

To me it is very clear. First, I consider “indie” or “independent”, “handmade”, and “handcrafted” to be synonymous. Secondly, to me mass market is simply anything that is machine-made or assembly-line driven. It’s anything – a food item, clothing item, tool, service – that is not produced in the majority by hand or in a one-by-one person-to-person situation. Something easily reproduced given a few key components. It is a one-size-fits-all. In general, the defining factor for me is always a personal touch. No two items or services are ever identical.

Even the widespread popularity or the ample supply of an item or if it’s bought or sold in a large chain store, etc also does not make it mass market to me. Even if it’s a local “chain”. As long as it is made-to-order or of course made by hand then it is not mass market to me. In the end, I don’t really care what you call it as long as at the core of it all a meaningful purpose, creativity, and personal attention is given to produce the end result in turn giving it a unique value.

All the other details and factors like is it technically a “corporation” say in the government sense? Or the tax sense – Does the business make more than a certain amount? Or cater to a certain volume? Or the size of the company itself? Do not make an item or service mass-market to me. It might make that company or corporation large and perhaps therefore not “indie” or small in a business sense but still does not necessarily make that service or that product mass market because it’s still possible to bring that personal touch. Unfortunately, large corporations and mass-market usually go together. The larger the company gets, the less likely it is to provide a truly handmade or artisan good/service or worse become less sensitive to details like uniqueness and ethical business practices! So sometimes large corporations do have bad connotations in that sense. But not always. I also don’t always feel mass-market and large corps are bad, in fact I’m a fan of many large corps and I feel they are sometimes a benefit!

What Is It To You?
I as a consumer, who also happens to love things we call “indie” or “handmade” and also happens to be a crafter myself, admit that I view these things from that perspective. While I do not sell my goods and services, I know that many an Etsy shop artisan, fellow Knitter, Crocheter, Home-Sewer, Yarn Spinner, Dyer, or Textile Maker etc that I follow on Twitter or on the Web do! And there are whole websites dedicated solely to bringing you local artisan goods. So in these life and times and especially for fellow Knitters, Sewers, and Crocheters it’s a very relevant and personal question! I am sure each would have their own special considerations and insights for their unique situation. And all part of the beauty of “indie”!

~+~ ~+~ ~+~

So, Is There Such A Thing As A Crochet Machine?
Anyway, this whole post was sparked because during this Twitter thread @mk_caroll said there is no such thing as mass-market or machine-made Crochet items! Crochet cannot be reproduced in that fashion which makes Crochet extra unique in that sense. I’d never thought about that before. Then I thought, wait I personally have never seen machine made single crochet stitch and then thought but I have seen machine made crochet-ish stitches! So I did some digging! It led me to this wonderful little post by Crochet Concupiscence called “Is There Such A Thing As A Crochet Machine?“.

“To date, there are no machines that can replicate the type of crochet that we do by hand. This makes crochet unique. There are knitting machines that can make knit items on a large scale to be sold in stores. The same is not true of crochet. If you see crochet in a store then you should know that the item was made by hand by someone in the world. It wasn’t made by a machine.” –Crochet Concupiscence

How cool is that? The photo above is the COMEZ “crochet machine”. It makes something like Crochet but it is not Crochet. The type of Crochet we do by hand can’t be replicated by a machine! I didn’t do any further digging so I’m sure there’s much more to discover. Nor did I thoroughly validate it. But I liked the idea so I’m going with it. I intend to take a closer look into it soon enough though!

Also, Lorna’s Laces posted up an article on Mass Market vs. Handmade. Check it out for some more info! And check out the Twitter profiles above for more on the topic!

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4 Responses to “Mass Market vs. Handmade + Crochet”

  1. [...] unethical (sleazy) to exploit the fact that sometimes the lines of handmade are blurred by allowing a shop/owner to claim authorship for something that is handmade when it isn’t. To [...]

  2. [...] OMG! Heart wrote about a topic that’s come up a lot lately – basically indie vs. mass market. She references (and linked) to several posts that other crocheters have done on this topic lately. Interesting conversation. [...]

  3. Great topic! (And thanks for the link). I was really fascinated by the whole history of knitting machines and the fact that there are no real crochet machines so I did quite a bit of research although I’d still really like to do more. I bet there are inventors out there who have created something that perhaps works similar to crochet but they just haven’t gotten their stuff into a market. Or maybe not. So interesting. And then you begin thinking about not only whether something’s handmade but by who and for who and it does become a very complex conversation, doesn’t it?!

    • Alice says:

      Likewise, thanks so much for sharing all your research! I heart crochet so when I stumbled across that Twitter thread and your article I was especially excited.

      I’d never thought of it before now and found your post while doing some research myself. I agree, how things work and where they come from are a very important part of what they mean to me and to who created it! So lovely topic and …

      Knit Sew Crochet Forever!!!

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