Photo courtesy Elizabeth Berry.
My introduction to crocheting was a kids-only crochet kit that was way too advanced for my nine-year-old self, resulting in frustrated tantrums. Crocheting, of course, wasn’t the hobby I occupied myself with during the quarantine. But Connecticut College alumna Maddie Megargee ’20 has been crocheting various items of clothing since March and posting her healthy creations on her Instagram account @ the.crochetcottage–– a play on words with the “Cottage Core” fashion trend.
Megargee, who studied sociology and French with Conn, ordered her first crochet kit in March as a potential quarantine activity. She started posting pictures of her pieces on her personal Instagram accounts, but eventually decided to create a crochet-focused account where she could share her work and sell items to interested parties. So she made a little black and white doodle that is now her bio photo and worked with her friend Hannah @ladyandthecam to design a logo.
While crocheting is fun, Megargee explains that it was frustrating at first. She taught herself the basics and got better acquainted with certain crochet patterns that use certain terminology in the pattern. Even now, with more background in these patterns, Megargee enjoys the freehand and often does not have to follow pre-established patterns. “I’m going hands-free [the piece] and block it with shapes, [with] a lot of trial and error, ”she says in a telephone interview. She goes on to say that “most projects have a moment when I have to undo something,” whether or not they follow a pattern. Her toughest pieces are always new styles, while patterns that she is more familiar with are much easier to make. I personally asked for a striped halter neck top with a tie collar and teardrop neckline, a design Megargee previously made for her sister. Regardless of how many times she’s already created a pattern, Merargee says there is always a little bit of frustration in the process.
Despite these hurdles, crocheting is a very portable hobby as all you need is a crochet hook, some yarn, and access to Youtube tutorials. When it comes to pricing, Megargee plans how much yarn it will use to make a given item, pricing based on the cost of the yarn and the time it takes to make it – plus shipping. There are definitely more expensive yarn out there, but Megargee says you can easily find a spool of thread for just a few dollars.
You can see Megargees breadth in the craft; Her Instagram highlights items that range from gauntlets, purses, and earrings to bralettes, crop tops, and sweaters. Customers can order a custom piece, such as the matching colorful crop top and shorts pictured above, or purchase items that Megargee has already made, such as the hats pictured below. Your favorite piece so far is a big one ceiling of 100 small grandma squares. This is the largest crochet project Megargee has undertaken; She worked on crocheting the individual squares for almost two months.
Like many, Megargee found solace in crocheting during the lockdown. In the same interview, she explains, “Everyone had their thing, some are stuck and some aren’t.” She goes on to say that craft is a cool trend that has come out of the pandemic. In addition, “it is really satisfying to do something yourself”.
Crocheting may be new to Megargee, but she has always had an interest in crafting. She took art classes in high school as well as a color theory class with Conn, which has come in handy in choosing palettes over the past few months. “I’ve always loved handicrafts and I enjoyed seeing more people and sharing their craft,” she says. Megargree also thought about expanding her sewing knowledge when she briefly sewed for the costume department at Conn. But she explains that there is so much more fun you can do with yarn. For example, she wants to learn Tunisian crochet, an Afghan crochet pattern that requires a longer crochet hook. Knitting is another craft medium she considered, but she has been praised by Conn alumna Jenni Wilson ’20, who runs a knitting-specific Instagram account @knitsbyjenni.
The pandemic has certainly sparked inspiration among master craftsmen as well as discussions about sustainability in relation to fast fashion. Megargree states that she wears a lot of second-hand clothing, but second-hand shopping can be ethical at times. She thinks making her own clothes is a great solution to avoiding fast fashion. “When it comes to the things I make, I tend to wear them because they mean something to me,” she explains. Your clients and yourself will be more likely to find a way to wear the item she crocheted as it was designed just for you and therefore has more meaning than a random graphic t-shirt. You can even wear the garment for a longer period of time and use more of it.
Whether or not people keep buying their products, Megargree plans to keep crocheting and expanding their knowledge of fiber art. She has signed up for a workshop at her local yarn shop where they will learn to spin their own yarn. There are other similar workshops she would like to attend as well as potential craft fairs once those events are safe again in a post-pandemic world.
Megargee explains that if she were in school now, she would definitely keep a hobby that wasn’t on screen as a “brain break”. This is sound advice from a recent graduate, especially as we are entering Module 2 of Zoom University. Crochet on camels and stay safe.•
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