Once perceived as a hobby for mothers and grandmothers, crocheting is now gracing fashion runways. Nadia Badarudin talks to the founder of a homegrown brand on this labour of love
AGE-OLD hobbies like crocheting and knitting are still relevant today.
Once perceived as an activity only for mothers and grandmothers to kill time and connect with other women in the neighbourhood, crocheting has become an “in” thing in recent years, thanks to social networking sites and high-end fashion labels.
With Hollywood celebrities and fashion icons like Kendall Jenner strutting crocheted ensembles and ditching crochet’s so-called grandma vibes, the goldie oldie art has suddenly become a must-try, especially among the young and trendy who value personalised and creative DIY fashion.
We have yet to see crochet fashion statements become hip here. However, a homegrown brand, Pinkyfrog, has already carved a niche in the local and international market with crochet as its forte.
The story of Pinkyfrog began in Bandar Seri Alam, Johor, 10 years ago with a hook and yarns.
“I quit my job as an IT lecturer to take care of my two daughters. Initially, I just wanted to learn a new, cheap skill,” says founder and craft hobbyist, Lina A.R.
“I knew nothing about crocheting at that time and I always thought that it was a boring hobby. But I decided to give it a try and bought a hook and yarns for RM30,” says Lina who is also the writer of Jahitan Crochet (Siri 1-Level Asas), a book on crocheting basics for beginners.
The Universiti Teknologi Mara graduate slowly learnt the craft (and blogged about it) and mastered the skill eventually, with YouTube, books and online craft communities such as ravelry.com as her gurus.
From learning to make the granny square (the basic pattern in crocheting), Lina started quick and simple projects like beanies, mittens, booties, dresses and hairbands.
“I got addicted to crocheting and after a while, I made so many items that I decided to sell them online and at bazaars.
“That’s how Pinkyfrog and Pinkyfrogshop came about,” says the 40-year-old entrepreneur.
She adds that the brand name reflects her determination to leap as high as she could in achieving her dreams and ambitions.
Besides cute and simple children’s wear, Pinkyfrogshop online retails blankets, bags, soft toys (like Japanese amigurumi), kitchen decorative items and accessories such as Japanese tawashi (dish scrubbers).
It also caters to custom orders such as skull caps, sweaters, beanies and wedding door gifts like “eggcozy”.
“Pinkyfrog is also becoming recognised as a one-stop centre or speciality retailer for crocheting enthusiasts to buy quality yarns, tools, pattern diagrams or starter kits.
“All the tools and kits as well as finished products can be bought online or at our physical shop, Pinkyfrog Studio,” adds Lina.
Although knitting and crocheting result in the same sorts of items, from mittens and socks to sweaters, shawls and afghans, and require similar skill sets (e.g hand-eye coordination, an eye for colour and design, an affinity for fibre and the ability to plan a project from start to finish), there is a difference between the two crafts, according to craft website www.thespruce.com.
For instance, crocheting uses a single hook for one live stitch, while knitting uses needles which hold rows of live stitches.
“The outputs are also different in terms of weight and appearance. Crocheted material is stronger and thicker compared to knitted fabric,” says Lina, who prefers to work at night.
Besides intricate patterns and unique colour coordination, what makes a crochet piece special is the element of creative, self expression or character weaved into it.
“As in other artwork or crafts, what matters most is that a little part of you is translated into the piece.
“At Pinkyfrog, we try to encourage Malaysians to love the country and support local entrepreneurs and brands by integrating Malaysian identity or elements into our products, especially the wearable fashion pieces,” she adds.
Pinkyfrog provides an avenue for crocheters to learn or sharpen their skills, and boost the entrepreneurial spirit among local crafters.
“I give classes to anyone, especially children, who are interested to take up the art. I also organise weekly gatherings at Pinkyfrog Studio for crocheters to share knowledge and skills.
“Hopefully, they too can turn their passion into a viable business, just like I did,” says Lina.
The brand recently collaborated with the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (Jaro) to help sell handicraft and artwork handmade by physically and mentally challenged crafters.
Among the Jaro-produced items that are best-sellers at Pinkyfrog Studio are bag handles made of rattan. The handle adds an authentic feel and unique appeal to a finely-made crocheted bag.
For Lina, saying that crocheting is a “granny hobby” is not true these days because the benefits go beyond the skills and techniques in manipulating the yarns, and it also can become a viable business.
“Hooks and yarns to a crocheter are like brushes and colours to an artist. Its benefits go beyond the yarns and hooks.
“It teaches me to become focused and more relaxed. It makes me realise that we can do anything as long we have the passion, patience and diligence.
“My late grandfather used to tell me: ‘Whenever you’re tasked to do something, don’t say you don’t know. Give it a try and never give up’.
“It became relevant to me when I decided to learn crocheting and made that first unknown leap to start the business. One can actually understand the core of surviving the ups and downs in life just by mastering the art.
“And that core is to never give up,” says Lina.
For some tips and brilliant ideas on crochet, follow Pinkyfrog at:-
Youtube Channel: Pinkyfrogshop
Or drop by at Pinkyfrog Studio at M16, Jalan Suria 1, Bandar Seri Alam, Masai, Johor (inside Der Cabin Bistro).
Latest designer crochets on the runway
AMERICAN fashion model, TV personality and Insta-darling Kendall Jenner revived the art of crochet in fashion and made heads turn at last year’s Coachella (an annual art and music festival held in California) in a brown crochet halter dress paired with circle sunglasses, strappy sandals and a statement necklace.
She did it again early this year and made it official that crochet is the must-have fashion piece (and perhaps, a new hobby to take up).
Despite not walking the Burberry runway at London Fashion Week, Jenner was spotted wearing the brand’s finale capes at the post-event party several hours later.
The white crocheted glory — complete with a hood and big pom pom tassels and paired with a short dress and black ankle boots — made her look like a sleek Snow Queen.
Here are some of the best designer crochet masterpieces meant for Spring/Summer 2017 runways as listed by popular crochet fashion website Crochet Concupiscence (www.crochetconcupiscence.com).
1. Moschino — Its resort wear collection glorifies the granny squares in striking-coloured summer dress, swim tops and male jackets.
2. Adam Selman — Its spring ready-to-wear collection plays up with granny squares and sophisticated white.
3. Belmain — Colour-blocking crochet takes centrestage in its resort collection.
4. Desigual — Its spring collection is all about crochet in feminine, bohemian-inspired elements.
5. Helen Rodel — Known for bringing crochet techniques from the past into the future, this Brazilian label’s resort collection, Handmade Summer Dreams, is tailored to become a classic.
Source: Teen Vogue, Marie Claire UK and Refinery29.