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Arts & crafts in 2021: The winners and losers…

macrame for hobbies

Over the past 18 months to two years, we’ve all gone a little bit crazy for crafting. Whether it be the thousands up and down the country carefully sewing face masks to keep the nation safe, or the dozens of dads installing brand new beer pumps in their sheds, we’ve all had hobbies and small interests to keep us occupied. 2021 has certainly been the year for arts and crafts. Or at least some…

Since April of 2020, there has been a huge rise in sales across various arts and crafts. It’s been widely reported, with the NPD Group revealing a 70% increase in arts and craft sales, whilst here at Rope Source, we’ve also welcomed a host of new customers looking to develop their crafting skills. 

But when it comes to the individual art and crafts, which have really shone throughout 2021? We crunched the numbers, analysing UK-based Google search-term data, to discover exactly that.

The most popular arts and craft activities in 2021

Based upon what people were searching over the last 12 months, it’s perhaps no surprise to see that painting tops the list when it comes to average searches per month. However, it doesn’t tell the full story.

Whilst painting is by far the most popular pastime when it comes to arts and crafts, with ‘painting’ welcoming almost 134,000 searches per month, that figure is actually less than the previous 12 months. During the height of lockdown in 2020, ‘painting’ welcomed on average 138,000 searches per month, with both ‘watercolour painting’ and ‘acrylic painting’ seeing around 14,000 searches per month, both of which have dropped in the last 12 months.

Of the five most popular search terms around the hobby of painting, the average total per month (216,000) far exceeds the second most popular arts and crafts hobby – ‘sketching’ – which notches 160,000 searches per month, and ‘sewing’ (134,000 searches per month). 

Interestingly, of the 15 search terms analysed across painting, sketching and sewing, it was only ‘diamond painting’, ‘paint by numbers’ and ‘sketchpad’ which saw an increase in searches compared to the previous year. 

The top arts and crafts of 2021

The winners and losers of arts and craft in 2021

The table above shows that only five of the 14 art and craft hobbies experienced an uplift in Google searches over the previous 12 months, with the top three all suffering after the lifting of restrictions in the UK. However, crocheting, which is the fourth most popular arts and crafts hobby of 2021 saw an 8% increase in searches. 

The ‘Tom Daley Effect’ has certainly played its part in the rise of crocheting. Between June and August, searches for ‘how to crochet’ jumped 12%, whilst ‘crochet’ searches increased by around 30% and ‘crochet pattern’ saw a whopping 60% increase. 

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘paper mache’ has seen the biggest drop in search volume. With children going back to school and more family activities available outside of the home, the messy activity saw a 38% drop in searches year-on-year, to an average of just 30,000 per month today. 

‘Photography’, rather surprisingly, has also seen a drop in interest over the last 12 months. Overall, the top five photography search terms have seen a 16% drop in searches, whilst there’s been almost a 30% drop in people searching for ‘photography courses’

The rise of macrame

Macrame turned out to be the biggest winner of the year. Over the past 12 months, searches for macrame products and patterns have increased by over 20%, and over a five-year period, that increase lies at over 467%.

Search terms such as ‘how to macrame’ have jumped 66% in the last 12 months, with ‘macrame’ seeing a 446% increase across five months from a mere 6,500 searches per month back in 2016, to over 35,000 today. 

It was lockdown that saw the biggest jump in searches and people actively creating macrame products, however. During the shut-down period, searches jumped 90%, with many people looking to turn their hobby into a small business and raise some funds during the difficult period.

The UK’s top search increases

Over the past 12 months, there has been a large percentage increase in searches for more unusual crafts, with both ‘quilling’ and ‘calligraphy’ making a return to the public consciousness. 

Whilst search volume is relatively low at just 790 searches a month for ‘quilling tool’, it represents the largest increase year-on-year at 201%, and could see the paper-based craft follow in the footsteps of macrame over the next few years. Two quilling keywords feature in the top five when it comes to percentage increase, whilst ‘calligraphy letters’ jumped 106% over the past 12 months – from 14,590 searches per month to 30,170. 

The top 10 search increases

The UK’s top search decreases

When it comes to the arts and crafts people are starting to leave behind, it appears that aside from furniture, thanks to the Repair Shop, the upcycling phenomenon may be wearing off, with searches for ‘upcycling ideas’ dropping 42%, and ‘upcycling clothes’ plummeting a staggering 70% as retail stores open their doors once again.

Paper mache search terms are among the more common in the top 10 biggest drops in searches, with all five of the most common paper mache search terms featuring. 

The top 10 search decreases


All data was collected using respected search tool ahrefs. Data was collected for 12-month periods dating back to September 2016 across the five highest volume searches across 14 of the most popular arts and crafts hobbies in 2021. A series of averages were then produced.


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