Paige Parkin (courtesy of @knitdiaries)

There have been a few trends on social media since quarantine began: banana bread. Whipped coffee. Tie-dye sweatsuits. One that you can’t escape on any Explore page recently? Knitting and tufting. Knitting is more commonly known, but tufting is a more artisanal craft; it’s the art of creating rugs with a tufting gun. And it’s suddenly huge, with a hashtag that has over 206.5 million views on TikTok. 

Leti Ruiz, who has worked at Downtown Yarns for 10 years, says last year was unprecedented. “It’s always up and down, especially because it’s seasonal,” she said of business at the East Village textiles shop. “2020 was kind of unique because that’s when people were knitting the most, all year. There’s always been an interest in knitting and crochet, but I feel like what I saw this year was interest in other crafts, like weaving, tufting, or embroidery.” 

Paige Parkin, @knitdiaries, a knitter and yarn store employee from Utah, agrees. “We can’t order the supplies enough,” she laughs. “It’s just coming in constantly. We are backordered on so many products, because of the pandemic. We’ve told people, ‘If you want something, you better get it.’”

The textile yarn industry– defined as any yarns used for knitting, embroidery, weaving or tufting– was valued at $11.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $16 billion in 2026. On social media, #Knitting has over 19.2 million tags on Instagram and 387.3 million views on TikTok. The rise in popularity could be because of how much time we all have to spend indoors, scrolling on our phones. Shevaun Zakhir, who created her business Super Fun Studios ( to sell her ceramics and rugs, started tufting after seeing an Instagram ad in the summer of 2020. “I wasn’t sure why they were targeting me, I had never seen a tufting gun. I was like, ‘Oh, that looks fun,’ and I’m a pretty big crafter, so I ordered one.” Currently, she has over 3,000 followers on Instagram. She credits social media with creating a huge audience for the craft. “I run an art studio with other folks. And they’re like, ‘I don’t know if it’s because of you. But I’ve been seeing a lot more tufting on Instagram.’ Hearing from outside people, it definitely is a craze.”

And with a craze comes certain trends within the craze itself. Tufter @rugpenguin created their profile as a side business in quarantine, and saw immediate success. “I posted like a couple TikToks, and one of them happened to hit, and it got like 1.8 million views in 24 hours. I went from like 20 followers to 20,000 followers in a day.” Scrolling their profile, rugs celebrating retro cartoons and games, like SpongeBob or Uno or Club Penguin, are a conscious brand choice. “You know, one person makes, like, an Among Us rug. And then every single person that’s in the tufting community is like, ‘Oh, you know, now I’m gonna make an Among Us rug,’” they explain. “I’m trying to focus on nostalgia. And instead of just hopping on a trend, I’d really like to make things that scratch an itch.”


Making an Uno Reverse Card rug! What should I make next? #VideoSnapChallenge #tufting #tuftinggun #fypsounds #fyp #rugtok #smallbusiness #viral

♬ 3, 2, 1 – 24KGoldn

The trend of knitting fits into the current focus on sustainable fashion. Nathalie Paesler, a student at UC Santa Barbara with a following of 22,000 on TikTok, believes knitting and crafting has experienced a renaissance as more people focus on fast fashion’s effect on the environment. “It’s become so popular in the past few years, because everyone’s getting a little bit more aware about global warming, and what fast fashion does to contribute to that. I think people want to feel like they’re doing something that’s better for the environment.” 


Reply to @maxestl any products not shown are in the custody of my mom #knitting #knittok #handknit #keepshowingoffoldknitslikeidonthave20wips

♬ SNL_Sweata Weatha – Peacock TV

Jackie Aselta, of @nyc.knits, agrees. “Life has changed a little bit, we have more time to dedicate to these crafts, and also to allow ourselves to create new things. If you see something in a store that you want, but you don’t want to pay for it, you could think, ‘Oh, well, maybe I can go home and try to make it for myself,’” she explains. “I think that’s also a little bit of a tribute to the slow fashion movement that I think has really gained popularity in the last few years. It’s not so much of fast fashion, getting the shirt for 20 bucks and only wearing it for one season, it’s more about creating timeless pieces that you’ll keep for your life.” 

Knitting and tufting as creative outlets have provided mental health benefits to both communities. Paige began knitting in 2014 after being diagnosed with frontal lobe seizures. “At that point, I had no idea that it was related to mental health, I did not know that I was suffering from anxiety and depression,” she explains. “I picked up knitting because I was so lonely. My husband works a lot of hours. It taught me what I was capable of, that feeling of getting to be able to wear something that you yourself can create is the most amazing feeling..”

Nick Ferrara, or @rugsoda, says that after experiencing a depressive period last year, tufting provided an outlet. “I was having really bad anxiety, and that’s actually the reason why I kind of felt like I needed to pick up a new hobby. It helped a lot. I would put on a podcast I enjoy and just zone out and tuft, and like, stay there for multiple hours, almost the entire day, just tufting..”

For some, the rise in popularity of these crafts has proven that creative endeavors can be full-time jobs. Hanna Eidson, @h.h.hooks, turned her art into her full-time occupation this year. “I know personally before COVID, I would have never had time to start this company, because I was working 40 hours a week as a bartender. When restrictions eased, I went back to work and immediately was scaling back my hours until I realized like, ‘Why am I even doing this other job?’” she explains. “I was doing just fine. I feel so very lucky that that’s how it worked out. The one silver lining of COVID for me is that they gave me this time to realize I could do this.”