Crocheting is one of many crafts coming back to life during lockdown

With just a slip knot and a crochet hook, crochet can dampen the white noise of everyday life. During India’s prolonged lockdown, the hook is being rediscovered for its ability to focus the mind

With just a slip knot and a crochet hook, crochet can dampen the white noise of everyday life. During India’s prolonged lockdown, the hook is being rediscovered for its ability to focus the mind

As the lockdown drags on, we’ve found that crafting can help us cope, because for a while, nothing matters more than making something with your hands. Plus, it gives us housebound worker bees a break from staring at computer screens too long. It’s no longer about random sewing projects to pass school exams, but about finding inner balance through the meditative act of counting and repeating stitches to form a pattern. And find soothing beauty in uniformity.

Crocheting, with its simple requirements – a ball of yarn or yarn and a hook to pull one stitch through the other – seems to be experiencing a revival among women in India. Whether it’s a means of personal expression, business opportunity, or social empowerment, it has a number of hooked fans. Long before confinement, artisans had already started to gather online. As people stayed home and discovered new hobbies, communities began to grow. On Instagram, #crochetersofinstagram has 4 million messages and continues.

“We have 6,000 members around the world collaborating on crochet projects,” says Subashri Natarajan, founder of Mother India’s Crochet Queens (MICQ), a group that holds the 2018 Guinness World Record for the largest crochet sculpture exhibit. in the world in Chennai.

As a containment initiative, the MICQ launched the “165 stitches in 165 days” project on April 1, where members crochet small squares daily using different stitches. “Anyone who knows the point well can become a class leader on this day. Once the project is complete, members can use the squares to create other objects,” says Subashri. “In addition to this, we are engaged in at least six bespoke charity projects such as crochet scarves for our army jawans and ponchos for children in northeast India,” it adds. -she.

As the lockdown eases, Hyderabad-based artist and crochet entrepreneur Himabindu Manchala plans to celebrate Yarn Bombing Day (June 11) by decorating his car with crochet, then draping nearby street furniture with crochet yarn projects.

“Crocheting can be used to create removable art installations, in addition to clothing and decorative items. During the lockdown, we encouraged people to stay home and do yarn bombing safely,” says Himabindu, who sells her designs through her Instagram account crochetnow.in.

Journalist and crochet enthusiast Ishita Russell showcases mother-friendly projects via social media and online tutorials.  Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

Journalist and crochet enthusiast Ishita Russell showcases mother-friendly projects via social media and online tutorials. Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

“It can be frustrating when you learn it because you make mistakes. But once you get the hang of it, you can just personalize it,” says Jyotsna Gokhale, a Delhi-based knitwear designer who has added crochet accessories to his Instagram-based product line “Artistree1970”.

A point in time

Unlike the craft itself, the history of crochet has many details, its origin being from Iran, China or South America. But the craft didn’t really come into its own until it became popular in Europe in the 19th century. Scottish missionaries are thought to have brought crochet to India in the early 20th century, and its earliest use was in prayer rugs and Islamic caps.

As a reflection of British Raj culture, crochet was soon used to embellish garments with delicate borders or yoke panels, as well as to create home furnishings like placemats and table linens. But like its cousin knitting, crochet was quickly relegated to something only women of a certain age would do, as factory-made goods took over in post-independence India.

But now, wide availability of online tutorials and forums has led to its popularity among young working women, who see the craft as a quick way to unwind.

Financial journalist Ishita Russell showcases her crochet projects on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook under the handle “Busy Mom Creationz”. Catering to young mothers like her, Ishita features soft toys, baby clothes and small storage containers for children’s supplies. A mother of three young children, Ishita says crocheting has given her strength to deal with post-pregnancy issues. “When you’re counting stitches, you’re in your own zone. Your stress level is taken care of. Sometimes on a bad day, my only achievement was the little crocheted flower I made,” she says.

A doll made by the crochet artisans at Happy Threads.  Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

A doll made by the crochet artisans at Happy Threads. Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

Coimbatore-based schoolteacher Geetanjali Goswami feels the same sense of accomplishment when she finishes her crochet projects.

“I make it coincide with special occasions, so I can prepare a handmade gift,” she says. “My students crocheted a lot – some of them even made dresses and shawls, and had enough to throw a school Christmas bazaar,” she says. Class IV students at the school are learning crochet as part of their handicraft module, while 15 students practice it as part of the handicraft club.

Meera Radhakrishnan, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, learned how to crochet online and then started hosting workshops. Her work can be seen on Facebook and Instagram runs ‘crochettalesbymeera’. “We have created a community called ‘India Yarn Circle’ to connect all fiber artists across the country. This will help beginners learn to crochet very easily,” says Meera.

High fashion today has largely promoted crochet, with dress designers giving it a racy twist in the form of crop tops and lace dresses in the past year. It continues to evolve, with beads, thread and lengths of fabric. But long before fashionable shopping bags, the ‘koodai’ (basket) crocheted with thin plastic yarn was a regular fixture for many shoppers, especially in rural southern India.

With contributions from
Saraswathy Nagarajan