Crochet is knotting the world back together | Daily News

Crochet is knotting the world back together

Maya in Negombo discovered the art of crochet during lockdown when she started knotting colourful tops together as a result of all the shops being shut. A few knots into it, she found her wardrobe took on a global look as she met other crochet lovers on line.

Quickly realising the power of knotting colourful fashion items even for the family pets she moved onto creating toys as she could see children were being badly affected from months of being locked inside the house. She explains to me “Looking at a completed crochet project whether it’s a whale or a dinosaur brings with it a sense of pride and accomplishment. I think a lot of people have taken up crochet as a hobby because it allows the mind to be creative when one can’t go out anywhere, while also giving you some order in our chaotic new world with the rows of identical stitching.” In the turbulent time we live in crochet also has a sense of familiarity in the sense that there’s a community that comes with it, as Maya has made new friends through her hobby.

Now a crochet guru she often sits between lockdowns crocheting new quirky individual creations inspired from the voodoo of Negombo’s sea side location, where she grew up playing the waves and watching the sea turtles coming to lay their eggs. Her love for crocheting marine life she explains comes from a love of seeing the azure sea everyday and its many beautiful exotic marine creatures. For Maya being able to turn an animal she sees and loves like a whale or jelly fish into something that can be played with is for her an amazing feeling as it makes her family laugh when locked inside. “Crochet gives me something to do that isn’t just looking at a computer screen, but something to test my dexterity, it challenges you with each new item you make in different ways whether its learning a new stitch or figuring out different terminology.” Maya encourages others to join her as it helps the mind, body and soul making everything from colourful bags, rainbow bikinis to even a toy mouse for the family pet cat Woody to play with. Travelling around Sri Lanka virtually now we are back in lockdown or via zoom one discovers a love of many girls doing something their grandparents did and a magical humour about the creations young people are knotting their world back together with.

Throw the net wider and you will discover other interesting crochet aficionados like Poppy and Abigail in the UK who also watched their exciting world collapse in March last year, as the planet went into total lockdown; they not only lost their jobs in the case of Abi, working as a life guard at a swimming pool, but also their courses closed down at college, as in Poppy’s foundation year, and worse still they could no longer see their group of lovely friends. Instead of sinking into a manic depression, over the sudden shrinking of their world to being their back room and garden, these two quirky and highly original girls took up crochet, a word derived from crock, or crochet, the Middle French word for ‘hook’ and the Old Norse word Krokr also meaning ‘hook’ merged or perhaps hooked together into a beautifully forgiving art form, which became extremely popular in England during the 16th Century. It is an art form with mysterious origins that is most likely to have come from the Guiana Indians and South America. However, like many art forms, there are as many theories of where and who invented it and variations in locations, as their are approaches and styles to making things.

Mademoiselle Riego de la Branchardiere in the 1800s is the first well known published crochet pattern designer, who created a book on the subject covering the various ways of making household items. In those days, everything from dog hair, to home garden grasses, reeds, animal fur, hemp, flax, wool, gold, silver and copper strands, silk, white cotton thread, wool yarns and linen thread and even string were used to make fishing nets, knotted game bags, flower pot holders, slumber rugs, table mats and many other household items. Poppy and Abigail have further developed crochet work into every kinds of fashion item, from uber cool tops to dead sexy ensembles of shorts and wrap arounds. Even their ruck sack was a floral crochet masterpiece, matching their daisy and star earrings, that brought a sparkle to the room, with their extremely colourful and fun outfit.

So, how did these models of crochet start such an extraordinary art form during lockdown and why? like so many other young people their amazing story unravelled about how it all begun, despite it being a battle for both of them to stop each other sinking into a depression when lockdown was announced, as over night their hopes and dreams for the future literally collapsed in front of them. So, to combat this feeling of abandonment and loss, they took up crocheting for up to 14 hours a day and this helped them overcome the many mental health issues of being locked out of the real world, with only the wired world of Instagram to communicate to people with.

They both love and hate Instagram, saying that is a great tool for publicising on one level, as it has helped them find thousands of crochet followers of what they are doing yet, on the flip side, it has put huge pressure on them both as young people to fit in and conform in an ever more isolated and scary Covid 19 world. Mental health for both of them has been an issue in the past, one of them having battled a serious eating disorder since 2014, as well as the isolation that mobile phones and selfies, among other social media pressures, brought on them as young people, to be the perfect picture girls, conform to the fashions of the day that do not suit either of them; who both consider it is anything but social or healthy in a world full of jealousy and pathological competitiveness to do this.

Like Maya in Negombo, they discovered the more creative and ‘out there’ they were with their work, the more they explored the local areas, biking at a social distance from one another on day trips and in the process it has taught them all to feel great about standing out; instead of getting negative and depressed for being different. They are are now all confident in their bold bright colourful crochet creative clothing and really happy, however quirky their ideas get, to believe in not only their beautiful products, but also all the positive energy they share with other people in everything they make.They all feel that they have learnt many important lessons during the pandemic, from resilience to having a go at new things like cooking, gardening and attempting to grow sunflowers or even crochet them if people don’t have gardens. They also look for new ways to connect with people, for example, by sending postcards, crocheting gifts to cheer up friends, like their joyful egg with a happy face on it, that has made others laugh when they have seen it on line. Although travelling around Sri Lanka and the world has never been more troubling they all believe with their original crochet products that they will help now help them pay their way when they can final travel again and through knotting different things together they are meeting other crochet lovers who they can stay with on their travels.


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