A New Wave Of Homegrown Crochet Artists Giving The Artform A Contemporary Spin

A New Wave Of Homegrown Crochet Artists Giving The Artform A Contemporary Spin
(L): Bottom Drawer Crochet (R): The Crochet Stork

In 2020, British singer Harry Styles wore a JW Anderson patchwork cardigan from their spring collection to a rehearsal before an appearance on The Today Show and created a viral Tik-Tok moment with many trying to recreate the cardigan. While the cardigan was knit and not crochet, the insta-worthy moment got many hooked on crochet and knitting.

Even fashion labels took notice and crochet was no longer the ignored middle child of the fashion world. Italian luxury house Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection showcased crochet co-ords, kaftans and monochrome cardigans. Fendi and Missoni too embraced the trend with their crochet bucket hats and mini bags.

High street brands like Zara and H&M weren’t too far behind to include crochet clothing and accessories to their mix (many argue that crochet isn’t something that machines can replicate, but also, as a general rule, you should support indie and homegrown artists over brands that show a general disregard for its employees and the environment).

The pandemic-induced lockdowns of 2020 had us all channelling our cottage-core aesthetic and it was an obvious counter to the complex and uncertain times we were living in (the great Romantic poets of the 18th century were also a product of uncertain times). As we collectively sought comfort in nostalgia and looked back at ways of killing time and anxiety, many took the needle and yarn and decided to take it for a spin. 2020 also brought into focus a new wave of artists embracing the art of crochet and two years on, we thought we’d highlight the artistry of four artists that have caught our attention, each with their own distinct styles of visual grammar.

History Of The Crochet

Before we deep dive into the world of crochet artists, let’s look at where exactly the craft of crochet came from. It is certainly not a new kid on the block but rather an art practice that has seen a re-emergence in the past two years. The etymology of crochet can be traced back to the French word ‘croche’, which refers to a small hook. While the art’s origins are contested, its introduction is credited to the Persians, the Chinese, the Turks, Indians and even Native Americans.

The west, however, only took notice of the craft in the late 19th Century when Queen Victoria started buying Irish crochet in an effort to provide sustenance to the farmers suffering from the potato famine. Its popularity since has come and gone in waves. In everyday life though, it found its way into everything from the Islamic kufi prayer cap to throw rugs and dolls.

It can also be seen in iconic pop-culture films like Kajol’s crochet berets in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Reese Witherspoon’s purple crochet hat in Legally Blonde (2001). But in true essence, crochet is finally getting its fashion moment (thank you, Harry Styles) and brands are taking note. Like their western counterparts, homegrown labels are embracing and emphasising the handmade with brands like textile and clothing label Fatherland, which makes tulle saris bordered with crochet lace and jewellery brand Tanzire which features crochet earrings and neck bands fringed with tassels.

Let’s take a look at homegrown artists who are reviving the craft.

Online crochet store Bottom Drawer Crochets
Online crochet store Bottom Drawer Crochets
Image Courtesy: Bottom Drawer Crochets

With many online stores channelling their crochet vibe, 24-year-old Neha Sharma also wanted to hop onto the trend. In an interview with The Voice Of Fashion, she said, “I started seeing many Instagram posts on crochet and learnt the technique from my mother soon after to capitalise on the trend.” She started her crochet endeavour in October 2020 with her Instagram shop Bottom Drawer Crochets and has made numerous custom patchwork pieces since then. Whether it’s crochet pants, co-ord sets, skirts, dresses, bags or tops — they have it all. They even have their own interpretation of the Harry Styles patchwork cardigan!

Hyderabad-based artist Himabindu Manchala’s company Crochet Now India, is bringing crochet back... and how! Her instagram page is where she sells a variety of crochet products, provides online workshops, and even supplies raw materials and tools to artists across the country. In the ‘Crochetverse’ that Manchala has been able to create, you can not only buy different types of yarn, weaving kits, crochet hooks, dowels and knitting needles but you can also shop for a variety of products including beautiful earrings, hair bands, sweaters, footwear, crop tops, handbags and even rakhis! With Raksha Bandhan just around the corner, this might be the artistic twist you were looking to add to the traditional affair.

Japanese Indian crocheter Maya Mima's crochet distressed jeans
Japanese Indian crocheter Maya Mima's crochet distressed jeans
Image Courtesy: Maya Mima

24-year-old Japanese Indian crocheter Maya Mima is giving crochet her own unique twist, no wonder it’s been a huge crowd-puller for her Instagram shop. Inspired by the art of Sashiko, a traditional Japanese embroidery technique that is used to strengthen worn-out clothing, she crochets distressed jeans, not only amping them up but also making them a fashion statement piece for your wardrobe. Among the other things she crochets are halter neck tops, scarves, bralettes, caps and laptop sleeves among others.

The Crochet Stork's Amigurumi crochet animals
The Crochet Stork's Amigurumi crochet animals
Image Courtesy: The Crochet Stork

Using the art of amigurumi, a Japanese technique of making stuffed yarn dolls or 3-dimensional crochet animals, is Pondicherry-based crochet artist Debaleena whose venture ‘The Crochet Stork’ on Instagram does adorable amigurumi dolls. Cute llamas, crochet baby pigs in crochet outfits and little boys dolls in crochet frog costumes are just a few of her many wonderful creations which make perfect gifts for your nieces and nephews as well as your friends.

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