Rakshita S, a senior business development associate with a hectic work schedule, sought solace in crocheting. What started as a hobby is today a part of her routine, with at least 30 to 60 minutes of crocheting daily.

Most of us recollect owning a knitted sweater or two as children; what seemed unflattering then might be the only remains of a beloved grandmother. A tectonic shift caused the art of crocheting and knitting to blow up so much that vibrant granny squares are all the rage as the youth indulge in this sustainable alternative to fast fashion.

Moreover, a hobby once perceived as a preserve of old women has managed to transcend gender barriers.

Muneef Khan, who grew up watching his grandmother crochet, teaches knitting at Tsala Quilting Studio while also training employees on crypto and stocks at a bank. It was during the Covid-19-induced lockdowns that Khan’s interest in crocheting was reignited, and as a result, he started making baby clothes. After mastering his craft via YouTube tutorials, he set up an Instagram store to expand his business.

“I initially picked up crocheting when I was isolated because of Covid. Not being able to go out and socialise was hard, but I was happy that I at least knew how to crochet. It helped me kill time and distracted me from my illness,” he added.

Further, according to Khan, knitting is appealing to a wide range of age groups and among his students aged between 13 and 40+ were a lawyer and three men. 

One of his students is 13-year-old Riddhi, who spent her summer vacation learning to knit. “Usually, we learn to knit or crochet from our parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, none of my family members knew it. My daughter is not very outgoing but has artistic leanings, so I thought knitting would be the best activity for her,” said Riddhi’s mother.

Riddhi attended Tsala’s four-class knitting course, each three hours long. “I wasn’t sure if she would pick up knitting comfortably and complete the course. Generally, kids try something once and refuse to try it again. After knitting a hat and receiving compliments from friends and family, she’s looking forward to learning crochet next summer.”

More than a hobby

Pragnya Parchure, the founder of The Hobbyt, has been teaching full-time for four years and crocheting for almost eight years. The classes she offers range in price from ₹1,800 to ₹4,500. “I would put up stalls in exhibitions and santhes (Kannada word for farmers’ market) across Bangalore. The response was great, and I got a lot of inquiries about teaching. That’s how I started my workshops.”

After seeing some success from crocheting amigurumi, or small Japanese crochet toys, Parchure trained a team of eight to ten women to crochet and work part-time. The team calls themselves The Hobbyt and supplies crochet toys to different stores in Bangalore.

While most students get a hang of the basics by the end of an 8–12-hour workshop, crocheting and knitting are hobbies that require time and interest long after the course. “The time you spend with yourself is important. In fact, it also induces creativity as one starts to think of the patterns and colours. Moreover, since knitting is mostly a repetition of one or two stitches, it’s also meditative,” Parchure said.

“Setting aside time for something in which one is interested--comes with a certain amount of mindfulness. Pattern-oriented hobbies like these become part of your self-care routine when done regularly. The effect will be there only when done steadily,” noted Sampurna Chakraborty, assistant professor of clinical psychology at AIBHAS.

Yarns range from pure wool to half acrylic-half wool and cost anywhere from ₹100 for a ball of yarn to ₹500 for premium yarns. While Bangalore has an array of craft stores selling yarns, the most inexpensive ones lie on Avenue Road. Crochet hooks start at ₹10, with the high-end resin and wooden ones costing ₹300. The average cost for a pair of knitting needles is around ₹100. These hooks come in different sizes depending on the ply size of the yarns. Plying is the act of twisting two or more threads to increase the thickness of the yarn.

(Reporting by BL intern Sanjana B)