Crocheting is far from being a Catholic high school student’s dreaded class project, or the thing that only you do lola knows how to do it.
The craft itself has become a cozy analog counterpoint to a technology-obsessed, technology-weary world. For viewers, crochet Instagram is a ray of light in the midst of the boring monotony of pandemic life, a colorful balm for the eyes and mind, which are exhausted by a steady stream of mostly bad news. It is comforting to look at the rainbow of curios made by human hands.
Have a piece made for yourself, and the warmth of the crochet becomes all the more real – real warmth to wrap yourself in, to feel even a faint connection with another person, in this case the one who made the piece.
Not to mention that crocheting is a craft these days that fits snugly into the look of the moment, taking the ’70s throwback that models and influencers out of the darkness of grandma’s mothball-laden wardrobes and back into the fashion spotlight.
Young people don’t just wear crochet pieces, they make them. The classic Granny Square and Granny Stripe were picked up by creators in their 20s and 30s. It’s a population group that you wouldn’t expect to have the patience or interest in such slow, focused activity – but it’s the same people who suddenly start spending their days at home.
With the world’s longest quarantine isolating them from friends and keeping them away from the pursuits of young adults, many of them have turned to crocheting to deal with the boredom and fear the pandemic has brought.
Tetel Cuevas, 31, spent most of 2020 feeling isolated and alone. She was a doctor in the Barrio in Mindanao, where she worked as a frontliner.
She started crocheting when she returned from Manila after her assignment.
“I went through some really tough times in my absence – and came back with a lot of feelings that I found difficult to process. I missed working with my hands and working with people, ”she said.
After spending most of her time studying or working, she finally had the opportunity to discover her creative side.
“I have always been fascinated by crocheting and knitting. I also loved the idea of developing a skill that would allow me to do something for others. After going through the internet for a few days and seeing what the makers were doing, I decided to record it, ”she shared.
Tetel started with a set of yarn that she bought online and learned by watching Grandma Square tutorials on YouTube. Eventually, she learned to make the bucket hats, crop tops, bralettes, and halters that populate her crochet site, TCCIC Crochet – pieces that have featured on influencer and apparel brand campaigns.
The proceeds from their orders went to AHA! Learning Center, a group that provides academic and educational support to public school children – a way for them to help out from home.
“I was on the front lines before returning to Manila and wanted to find a way to help too, so I thought it would be a great way to raise funds,” she shared.
Aside from being a creative outlet, a form of therapy, and a way to give back, the craft itself has helped Tetel make connections with others – something that has become even more valuable and difficult in the pandemic.
She describes a culture of sharing within the crochet community: “You learn from each other. They work with customers to get their measurements and favorite colors. It’s very personal, which is refreshing when the current situation forces us into isolation. “
“I’ve met so many cool people and I couldn’t have imagined that in times like these,” she said.
For Donna Paguinto, 25, crocheting has helped her deal with stress by forcing her to focus on the present.
“The part where you count your stitches while crocheting is very meditative because you only focus on what is happening so you can’t hear the bad thoughts and negativities because you are too busy counting”, she said.
She learned Donna’s first crochet from her grandmother when she was 10, but she really got into the game in 2018. As a graphic designer and illustrator, frustrated with her art, she turned to crocheting for a new way of being creative.
“I found out amigurumi (that’s a subsection of crochet that you make stuffed animals in) and got hooked instantly! ”she said.
Through amigurumi, she rarely found ways to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious by recycling plastic bottles and textile waste into the toys she made.
Her crochet brand, Fully Hooked PH, started out with their eco-conscious amigurumi projects but has since expanded into making clothes and wearables, which they make sure to include in all sizes.
“I still stand by the environmentally conscious message that has just shifted to slow fashion, and the importance of inclusivity in this craft,” she said.
Size inclusiveness is one of the challenges with crocheting – Donna pointed out that many patterns only prefer small sizes.
That being said, she said that yarn can be expensive and that there are incidents where people copy someone else’s work or even claim it as their own. She also shared that some manufacturers are undercutting their items, leading to customers expecting prices that are too low for handmade items.
“Despite all these things, crocheting is still an amazing skill to learn,” she said.
A personal touch
For Ish Perez de Tagle, 26, it was a skill that enabled her to make personalized gifts for her family and friends at the end of a particularly difficult year.
“After the crazy 2020 year, I wanted to give my loved ones Christmas gifts that would really bring them joy, and I felt that handmade gifts are the best way to show my love for them,” she shared. “To see how everyone unpacks my presents, surprised and happy, really warmed my heart at Christmas.”
Ish finished her medical degree in June 2020 and is currently a medical intern, but because of the pandemic, she had to do her internship online. While her practical medical training has taken a back seat for the time being, she can at least keep her hands busy with crocheting.
Like Donna, Ish began with amigurumi, as well as key rings, but since then she has expanded her crochet portfolio to include wearables and accessories.
As she started learning to do more things, crocheting became a way for her to make the clothes she couldn’t wear as a kid, which brought her Instagram brand, Ish Stitches, to life.
“I like to think that my brand is curated by my inner child who, for fear of judgment and criticism, couldn’t wear all the things they wanted. Now, in my adult years, I finally have the courage to wear anything I want, in all the colors I want. And I’ve never been happier! ”She shared.
Ish’s page is filled with pastel colors, candy, and pop culture references.
As with Tetel, Donna, and their crocheted contemporaries, the things they make are a testament to the universe of design that can be created from a few simple stitches.
“I really love how you can just start crocheting with a ball of yarn and then use it to create anything you want, be it clothes, plush toys, bags or jewelry and a lot more,” said Ish. “If you can imagine it, you can crochet it.”
As a trend, crocheting is expected to go out of style at some point. But just because of the value it brings to many of its millennial makers, crochet could only stay here. – Rappler.com
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