Americans Hunker Down in Recession

"During a down economy, people look to get back to basics," said Stuart Aitken, chief marketing officer for Michaels. "Arts and crafts provide that, whether they are making a gift, creating a piece of jewelry, working on a project with their child or knitting a sweater."

Sewing and knitting are also making a comeback.

Marianne D'Eugenio, owner of Quadrille Quilting in North Haven, Conn., said she has had to add more classes and hire more teachers to keep up with the renewed interest in quilting.

"Many of my customers are expressing that quilting enables them to focus on creating something good and takes their mind away from their day-to-day anxieties," she said.

Quilting Business Booming

A few years ago, D'Eugenio moved from a 1,000-square-foot store to a 3,000-square-foot space and worried that she would not be able to sustain her business in the larger quarters.

"But we went from three times the size to three times the business," she told And even though fabric -- at $8 to $9 a yard -- is expensive, "people don't mind spending more because a quilt is something that lasts."

Roseanne Haakerud of Wallingford, Conn., one of D'Eugenio's customers, said she finds it economical to recycle old bedspreads, curtains and even children's T-shirts into patches for her quilts.

"It's an addiction," said the 61-year-old retired teacher, who is married to a night custodian and watches her pennies. "It keeps me busy and my husband happy."

"In this economy everyone needs something to keep them happy without breaking the bank," she said. "I am not out at the malls spending money and we don't go out to dinner a lot."

Helping During Recession Blues

Haakerud donates much of her handiwork to charity. "I think it's important for people who are going through hard times financially," she said. "They get depressed and overwhelmed and don't know what to do."

"Quilting is a way of expressing yourself, of using your time for others," she said. "For me it's an aphrodisiac. Time and love goes into it and people know it's from the heart."

Knitting has also shown a resurgence in downtimes. At the Fiber Loft in Harvard, Mass., yarn is selling well, according to Carol Quinn, who used to work in the computer industry and now works part time at the store.

"It all started after [the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001] and now people seem to be busier than ever," Quinn, 60, told "Sales have been up or steady, but the last month has been way up."

"People are mostly doing scarves," she said. "Knitting is expensive, but we think people are staying at home more and they don't want to be just sitting in front of the television."

And the knitting craze is not only taking cold New England by storm.

Village Woods in Albuquerque, N.M., can't keep its yarn on the shelves, staff members said. Employee Laurie Domski said that it may be a niche market, but it allows people to stay at home and save money.

"Our weaving classes are almost impossible to get into anymore," Domski told ABC News affiliate KOAT. "Everybody comes in this store -- guys, tattoos, piercings, we get them all."

20-Somethings Hunker, Too

The stay-at-home phenomenon is even affecting the 20-somethings.

Lizzy Holmgren of Denver is only one year out of college and is still getting some financial help from her parents. Yet she still pulls back.

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