Crochet away, with Jonah
February 5, 2020 9:05 PM   Subscribe

At 5, Jonah picked up a crochet hook, and with a YouTube tutorial on making a dishcloth (he wanted to make an octopus), he learned to crochet. That was about seven years ago, and you can see how far he's come by looking at his work on his Instagram account, and his tutorials on YouTube. No hooks? No problem! Jonah shows you how to use your fingers to knit a hoodie (full instructions for free from Yarnspirations). "After a very hard, busy, chaotic day in this busy world with school, it's just nice to know that I can come home and crochet in my little corner of the house while sitting by the one I love most: my mom," Jonah told NPR last year. [via Mltshp]
posted by filthy light thief (39 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
My mother (age 78) has crocheted since I was a small child. I have a beautiful granny square queen sized bedspread from her that is one of my most treasured possessions. She has, literally for decades, crocheted baby blankets (mainly white with stripes of pink and blue and yellow) for expecting parents she knows through her church or storytelling group or (earlier) employment and at this point she's doing them for the children of children (or even the grandchildren) of people she first crocheted a blanket for. The care and love she puts into each stitch is palpable.

Crocheting is a way to turn your attention and time into something tangible for others. I love my mother for how much of her life she's knotted together into something to hand to someone else. It's a true joy to me, just thinking about it right now.

Great post!
posted by hippybear at 9:35 PM on February 5 [20 favorites]


Yeah!
posted by growabrain at 9:40 PM on February 5


My mom crocheted. I was the only kid in the neighborhood with doilies all over his bedroom and lace on his pillow cases. She worked with the very fine thread rather than yarn. Raised grape clusters, florals and such. We still have a dining room table cover as big as a tarp. Copies of the Workbasket all over the house were a given. Crochet was a significant part of my childhood...
posted by jim in austin at 9:58 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


This post renewed my faith in humanity.
posted by ikahime at 10:24 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


We still have a dining room table cover as big as a tarp.

That sounds amazing. An heirloom treasure, surely! That kind of fine thread work is another level entirely!
posted by hippybear at 11:00 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Is it tongue in cheek or does he really think his life is hard, busy, and chaotic? I hope he doesn't really think that.
posted by bleep at 12:42 AM on February 6


I can't believe a US 12-year old is so nice and creative and articulate and Donald Trump gets to be President.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:52 AM on February 6 [35 favorites]


Sometimes kids have hard days too. Like the shoes they walk in, they're just scaled down for size.
posted by Jilder at 1:22 AM on February 6 [46 favorites]


Gotta share this with my 12-year old, madly crocheting daughter. Thanks!
posted by St. Oops at 2:34 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


This post is some really powerful alka seltzer to the heinous spiritual indigestion I'm experiencing right now. This kid's work is stunning. It makes me happy in a really pure way.

Also, my husband loves to embroider, and still feels slightly weird about it due to internalized garbage abut how men and boys should be. He's aware that it's social programming brain crap, but told me he gets twinges of it from time to time. It warms my heart that, on weekends, he and our son puzzle over what new projects to make and then sew them. Last night, my husband excitedly showed me therapist merit badges he made for the folks he works with.

The kids, and sometimes the adults, are alright.
posted by batbat at 3:35 AM on February 6 [19 favorites]


That's some beautiful crochet.

I would not be surprised at all if "hard, busy, and chaotic" were not an accurate descriptor even by adult standards. Middle school can be utterly brutal. Glad that Jonah has this outlet and that his reception by the crocheting/crafting community seems to have been so affirming.
posted by notquitemaryann at 3:52 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


This kid is fantastic, doing gorgeous, accomplished work. He seems to have an intuitive feel for his materials. Can’t wait to see his future creations.

I’ve gotten through stressful times with yarn work. It’s meditation, forcing your mind into a rhythm, and watching the thing you’re making take shape keeps things moving along. It builds patience and orderly thoughts, and good feelings as you picture your intended recipients. I always carry extra yarn and hooks—it’s a portable hobby, especially good for waiting rooms.

During a long delay in a train station I taught an anxious, panicked woman to crochet, supplying her with a hook and yarn. She calmed down with something to keep her hands busy. Notably we did not speak the same language but did not need to.

Recent events have forced me to undertake ever more complex projects for anger management. Keeping other folks warm is a healthy mission which I recommend to anyone, and yarn work is easy to learn with the help of online tutorials. It’s never too late to try!
posted by kinnakeet at 4:09 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


His earnestness and genuine sweetness is breaking my carefully nursed disdain for crochet (note for muggles: sarcasm, this is a fibre arts in-joke beef).

He’s so pure! Love this thanks.
posted by like_neon at 4:57 AM on February 6 [12 favorites]


I normally think of yarncraft as a very white thing. Perhaps because of all the white knitting blogs, perhaps bc of internal unfair biases.

I’m not sure if yarncraft has any different uptake and practice among different ethnicities, but it’s really nice to see some diversity, in multiple forms! Seems like cool kid, this is the kind of IG I like.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:59 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


when i think back to middle and high school, hard busy and chaotic are definitely apt words. from the trying my hardest to be a Good Student - to the bizarre teachers with abhorrent disciplinary methods and their own form of bullying the unpopular students - to the constant stress of trying to not be yet again on the end of some vicious Mean Girls' prank... yes, hard busy chaotic.
posted by affectionateborg at 5:37 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


I have come across very few men (or boys, as in this case) who crochet -- fewer even than men or boys who knit -- but all of the male crocheters have been black. "All" is a very small sample size -- I'm thinking of a teenager in a crochet class I took once at a craft convention, a group of older teens / young adults who made and sold caps in the student centre of the university I went to, and now Jonah -- so it could purely be a coincidence, but I wonder if there are historical and cultural factors that make it more likely that black men and boys will crochet.

All of this could be purely a visibility bias, too -- as SaltySalticid noted, fiber crafting spaces are very white (sewing is noticeably less white than knitting, crochet, embroidery) and they are also very, very female, and I assume they aren't very welcoming to boys or black people. When I was younger, I sometimes found them plenty unwelcoming just on the basis of being a younger white woman than the norm -- not explicitly 'you are not welcome here' but there's only so many hours of menopause jokes a 25 year old woman is going to want to sit through to attend a guild meeting. I would imagine for that kid who took the crochet class years ago, it must have taken a certain kind of nerve just to walk into a room full of white ladies and take that class. I'm sure there are many more men and/or black people practicing those crafts than are included in the mainstream guilds, conventions and blog rolls of the crafting world.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:40 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


My grandmother crocheted. I know she made a few blankets. But the one thing I really remember (and my brother still has) was a full-sized Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf for my brother. This was back in the early '80s when they showed Dr. Who on PBS late on Sunday nights. My brother and I watched it, but he was a far bigger fan. At some point, they printed the Dr. Who pattern and materials list in the local newspaper, so my grandma made one for him. Full sized, according to the full design.

The real Dr. Who scarf was knitted. So the crochet version is probably twice as heavy as an authentic one. It's crazy long and very, very heavy. But it's a prized heirloom now. Grandma has been gone since 1991 or 92.

I'll admit I also pictured a white kid when I read the post here. Says something about me and us, I guess. Good for this kid, I'm happy he's getting recognition.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:59 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


I love it! Such an accomplished artist, and I now want to hand-crochet a hoodie!
posted by xingcat at 6:10 AM on February 6


I never thought I'd say this, but my nephews might have a challenger for the title of Adorablest Little Boy
posted by captain afab at 7:06 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I have been scrolling back through his Insta looking for this and finally found it: he did eventually make an octopus, and it's really, really good. Perhaps his octopus and my octopus can be friends?
posted by jacquilynne at 7:15 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


One alternative datapoint, my white male 10yo son is a mad crochet fiend. He attends Waldorf school so he started with it early and has kept it up. He and his older brother were making a series of stop-motion videos about a year ago with stuffed animals as the main characters. The younger son did all the costume design: crochet jackets, pants, hats.

Another alternative datapoint, when I (also white male) was about 15 or so I was on a big date at the local roller rink, holding hands and even slow skating with a white female companion of the same age. I made the horrible mistake of admitting that I enjoyed knitting to my companion who took the news okay, but her younger sister teased me the rest of the evening.
posted by Walleye at 7:17 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


WHAT A GOOD OCTOPUS
posted by dismas at 7:39 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I have been scrolling back through his Insta looking for this and finally found it: he did eventually make an octopus, and it's really, really good.

Thanks for finding that!


I have a male co-worker who knits, and he was kind of bashful or shy about it when he first told us, but then he relaxed and it was so much fun seeing his joy at finding a new pattern or material to use. And to sound more masculine, he would refer to it as "fiber arts," but we'd laugh together about that.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


When I was in college in the late 90s/early aughts, a knitting craze swept through my friend group, girls and boys alike. One of my fondest college memories is of everyone sitting down to the Super Bowl with their knitting.
posted by the_blizz at 8:28 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


jim in austin, your mom likely did tatting with very fine thread most likely. It's different than crochet but beautiful none the less.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:33 AM on February 6


This makes me so happy. I've been knitting for 30+ years now (my mother taught me at around 5 or 6), and added spinning, embroidery and weaving over the years. It's a deliciously calming, happy thing to do.

(Being 12 is really hard. I love his description of being able to sit quietly in a warm, safe, loving place, and will think on that tonight when I curl up with whichever craft catches my eye.)
posted by kalimac at 8:45 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


When I was in college in the late 90s/early aughts, a knitting craze swept through my friend group, girls and boys alike. One of my fondest college memories is of everyone sitting down to the Super Bowl with their knitting.

I was in high school at the same time. Our orchestra conductor finally banned knitting during practice.
posted by lharmon at 9:05 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I bought the December 2019 issue of Crochet World mostly to read this kid's story and check out his design skills. This made me exactly as happy as I'd hoped it would.

jim in austin, your mom likely did tatting with very fine thread most likely. It's different than crochet but beautiful none the less.

With raised grape clusters? Almost certainly crochet. I know I've got plenty of examples of doilies, tablecloths, placemats, and a bedspread crocheted with thread, and have committed some of my own.
posted by asperity at 9:06 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


😍😍😍😍😍! Everything about this post is lovely. What an amazing family, what gorgeous children (Jonah and his sister in the fingerknit hoodie video.)
posted by glasseyes at 9:08 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


How totally heartwarming. I'm crocheting myself a long cardigan right now. (I also knit and spin, and it's so weird how much hate crochet gets in knitting circles. Sure, it does take more yarn, but it can also be faster, and it's a lot more forgiving and easier to rip back if need be.)

No one in my family does any sort of fiber arts, so I've had to teach myself everything. I've often wished I learned as young as Jonah did! Think of all those productive years I could have had...
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:47 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


I needed this today. Thank you!
posted by stillmoving at 9:57 AM on February 6


I would not be surprised at all if "hard, busy, and chaotic" were not an accurate descriptor even by adult standards.

I think nearly everyone, at every age, is living an equally tough life. Older people tend to be very dismissive of younger folk's problems because we've already lived through them/solved them, and in retrospect, compared to our current problems, they seemed easy. But they weren't.
posted by maxwelton at 11:08 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


That's so true. Wish it didn't always have to be the case!
posted by bleep at 12:17 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


jim in austin, your mom likely did tatting with very fine thread most likely. It's different than crochet but beautiful none the less.

It was definitely crochet. She had a container full of various sized hooks. She would sit with one eye watching TV and the other on her project. Her hands were always in motion. I can't remember a day she wasn't crocheting as a child. No knitting. No tatting. Just endless crochet...
posted by jim in austin at 1:44 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


And too often, sadly, they are the exact same problems.
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:38 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


it's so weird how much hate crochet gets in knitting circles. Sure, it does take more yarn, but it can also be faster, and it's a lot more forgiving and easier to rip back if need be.

The figures on how much yarn is used to crochet versus knit are questionable, fwiw, even when they're not being misreported as "three times more yarn!" rather than 1.3x more. Solid rows of single crochet stiff enough to stand upright are not a fair comparison to solid rows of garter stitch. Besides, one of the best things about crochet is all the things you can do with it that are difficult or impossible to do with knitting.

I think most of the anti-crochet bias in the world can be chalked up to heavy exposure to machine-knit and machine-woven fabrics since infancy. That's what fabrics are supposed to look and feel like, right? There's no crochet machine that'll do more than some simple trim, so it's a lot rarer and it's all handmade.
posted by asperity at 9:52 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Crochet is amazing for many things, but making sweaters is only rarely one of them, which is a lot of the problem people have with crochet, I think -- they want to use it in the same way they use knitting and it doesn't have the same drape and stretch. They assume that's a bug, rather than a feature.

On the other hand, I would almost never knit an afghan, because why waste all that time making a zillion itty bitty stitches when you can wallop a better, thicker, warmer, cozier one out in crochet in a quarter of the time? And I have knit some small stuffed toys, including the ones I linked to above, but that sort of shaping is wildly easier in crochet.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:21 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I've made some pretty awesome sweaters, but almost never in unrelieved single or double crochet stitch. You can get some excellent drape with different stitch patterns. Larger hooks are also useful for this!

But yeah, you are spot on that if you design crocheted garments in exactly the same way you would knitted, you're probably not going to produce very wearable items. Luckily, there are a lot more crochet designers out there than there used to be, with patterns for garments that are fun to make and wear. (And with kids like Jonah growing up with crochet, I have no doubt there'll be even more in the future.)
posted by asperity at 10:39 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I hadn't known that he wanted to be a surgeon. That seems like a very good idea.
posted by gerstle at 5:19 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


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