What started as a way to overcome pandemic-induced anxiety and stress has become a way of life for Kunal Chourasia. The 23-year-old Mumbai-based social media executive, who started crocheting (a popular way of making yarn) amid the lockdowns, has sold more than 70 handicrafts so far.
“Crochet stitches really help me get lost. And the joy of seeing a project grow is worth a lifetime of experience,” Kunal, who learned the five basic crochet stitches from his nani and mastered with the help of your YouTube videos, says indianexpress.com.
“Crocheting is my secondary activity now, but also a great way to relieve stresssaid Kunal, who takes five to six hours to make a hat and more than 20 hours to crochet a cardigan. He sells his creations on his Instagram handle crochet_by_kunal.
For the uninitiated, crochet is an art form of knitting that involves a hook and yarn. It can be done by hand or by machine and consists of creating stitches, loops of yarn in a row, flat or round. An age-old form of craft, crochet has – over the past few years – undergone a massive metamorphosis with today’s generation giving it a youthful twist.
Sohail Nargund, who has been experiencing bouts of anxiety due to the pressure of work and the ‘endless’ work-from-home schedule, came across articles detailing how knitting helps alleviate stress and anxiety . After watching numerous tutorials on YouTube and with the help of fellow knitters, the 28-year-old engineer took up the hobby and made a sweater for his older sister. “She loved it, something that motivated me to explore crochet. And before I knew it, I was also making caps and mittens,” he said. Harnessing this new hobby -time, Sohail, with the help of his sister, launched an Instagram page – The Rough Hand Knitter – in September 2021.
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“When I had just started knitting, I had a reason to finish the job quickly. Initially, I was amazed at the patterns that came out of a single piece of yarn. The rhythm (repeated patterns) of knitting helps me calm down and makes me happy. I will always wonder how I will spend my time when I am in my late 60s, now I have the answer: knitting,” he said. indianexpress.com.
It was a “terrible experience” at one of her previous workplaces that introduced Bhumika Mistry to crochet. “I went through a phase where I just didn’t know what to do and definitely a period where I was depressed and was seeking therapy too. Then one day I came across some crochet tutorials on YouTube, and something about crochet and yarn caught my eye,” she shared. Bhumika added that she quickly got hold of crochet and yarn to know it was such an old art form. “And from making my first granny square to my first garment, it was an incredible journey! The hook is very therapeutic. The continual motion of looping yarn and hooking and finally holding in my hand a piece of clothing that I have made certainly gave me a sense of accomplishment and made me realize how little we value things. such things,” she said.
The brand maintenance and copywriting professional also added, “It helped me focus well and also pushed me to finish many of my unfinished tasks.”
Subject matter expert Anmol Sawhney, 24, is a crochet and knitting coach and Instagram influencer who taught “how to crochet and knit, and scale a successful craft business”.
During the Covid shutdowns, the lack of friends and working from home schedules caused her to develop ‘social anxiety’. “Whenever I had to go out, go to the office or hang out with friends, I shut down. I felt really anxious. Crocheting and knitting helped me a lot during this time. I used to motivate myself – I’ll be fine on the subway if I take my projects with me. I crochet and knit wherever I go and whenever possible,” said the computer science graduate, who works as a full-time content writer. indianexpress.com.
For Mohammed Furkhan, a mechanical engineer by profession, crocheting as a hobby almost happened naturally after “lots of free time” during lockdowns. “I made a king size blanket in four months and learned a lot about shell stitch and edging. And then when my sister was pregnant I wanted to learn how to knit,” says Furkhan who made a baby hat for her niece.
But do hook and does knitting really help reduce stress? According to Vidhi Agarwal, Counseling Psychologist and Founder of Aantarik, knitting and crocheting act as “stress-busting patterns.”
“Knitting is about sitting down in a particular way and using your hands to create repeating patterns. Your eyes and hands execute the big picture your mind envisions using threads of different colors. Now, all the processes involved in knitting: being in contact with the floor, hand-eye coordination, repetitive hand motion, pattern making, multi-sensory nature… all act as stress relief for the brain. Plus, knitting and crocheting gives you the ability to pace yourself – you can go fast with more experience or go slow when creating an intricate pattern,” Agarwal explained.
Abigail Azor Kulkarni, 29, learned to crochet in school. But only in the past two years has she rekindled her love at her husband’s suggestion. “As the climate in Goa is tropical, no one really wears warm clothes. I had stopped making them. But after coming to Pune, I started again. It helped me overcome stress. But above all, I encounter so many new ideas every day. I realized that people all over the world are so creative, which is beyond imagination,” said Abigail, who is an elementary school teacher. indianexpress.com. From caps, ponchos, coasters, scarves to fingerless gloves, Abigail makes a variety. However, due to her time constraints, she only takes a few orders.
Inspired by their zeal for knitting, some even signed up for her online classes. “A lot of people have shown interest. Currently I have a few people signing up for my four week subscription plan where I will sit with them for four Sundays and work on a project (like gloves, sweater, top, etc.) with them,” Anmol explained.
“Apart from learning, handmade products are durable because people don’t feel like throwing them away because of the interest and excitement they had buying them. People wait months Handmade products have an understated nostalgia about them, which makes them unique,” Sohail said.
What do male practitioners think about knitting and crocheting not being considered “manly” enough? “I don’t see crochet as a gender-based activity…many men crochet and knit. I think it’s a cool, extra-manly thing to do. Extra-manly because this man is safe enough to do what he feels like doing without worrying about a lame (and ignorant) perception,” Kunal said, while describing that it started with fishermen ( creating nets) and men (and their families) in guilds (before the Industrial Revolution and automated knitting machines). Only relatively recently has it been associated with “women/grandmothers”.
Furkhan also shared, “Knitting isn’t just for women, there’s no label on it. Men also know how to knit. There are so many men knitting all over the world and now also in India.
Sohail summed it up, “Why isn’t it considered manly enough, that’s the question I always ask. Why does a hobby reflect someone’s masculinity? does it hurt someone emotionally or physically? There is a quote that perfectly reflects this. Elizabeth Zimmerman said, “Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled mind, and neither does it hurt the serene mind.” I can say hobbies like knitting aren’t sexist. People are.”