Today's knitting enthusiasts are younger and more diverse

Knitting is no longer just for grandmothers. The world of "fiber arts," which encompasses knitting, crochet and more, is being embraced by a surprising group of newcomers.

"It is a younger demographic," said Felicia Eve, who opened String Thing Studio in Park Slope two years ago and is now finding more and more people in their 20s and 30s turning to the old-fashioned art.

"It's very popular right now," she said. "I guess you could call it a resurgence."

Louis Boria, a regular at String Thing as well as Knitty City on the Upper West Side, started knitting in his early 30s. Late last year, photos of him knitting on the subway turned him into a viral sensation. He is now known as Brooklyn Boy Knits. He's found plenty of company in the fiber arts world.

"Not just knitting, you have crochet, you have people dying wool, you have people spinning wool, and it's not just old ladies doing this, you're seeing younger and younger people doing it," Boria said.

The fiber colors and the rich tactile experiences are part of the draw, but a big appeal, particularly for young people, is that when you pick up your knitting needles, you have to put down your phone.

"I think we have a tendency to get stuck on our phones, with knitting you can't, you have to use both hands so you can't be on your phone," Ruth Yang said. "It's like a meditation."

Yang, 32, learned to crochet as a teen, but took her knitting skills to the next level in recent years. She now knits for her 1-year-old daughter.

"It's very calming," she said.

Studies have shown that knitting can lower stress and even blood pressure.

But while there's nothing digital about the actual act of knitting, the fiber arts world has a vibrant presence on social media.

Instagram and knitting websites like Ravelry have also become a forum for discussions that extend far beyond color and patterns, most recently to the emotional topic of race and inclusion in the knitting world.

A blog post on the knitting website "Fringe Association" first sparked controversies. A recent Vow article about race in the world of knitting got everyone in the fiber community talking and acknowledging stereotypes.

"Assuming in knitting, black people don't knit, people of color don't knit, which is just a fallacy," Eve said. "it's just simply not true."

"You assume we're not here because we're not important enough to be asked to be featured on your covers or featured as the 'it' designer when we've been here, doing this stuff forever," she added.

The discussion touched so many that Boria decided to host an event at Knitty City called "The String that Knits Us Together" to address it. The conversation may be uncomfortable but the good news is that it is happening, he said.

"This just opened up a conversation that needed to happen, that will continue to happen, and it's all about getting to know each other and our stories," Boria said.