Reclaiming the word ‘Maker’ and learning the Slip, Single, Double, Half-Double, Triple & Half-Triple Stitches in style…
Eighty-six years ago, 16-year old Chandra Kumari Joshi had recently been widowed. She had to abandon her 6-month old son and move out of her माइती (maternal home) to mourn as per tradition at that time. Alone and with nothing to do, her neighbour showed her how to crochet to pass the time.
She took it up with enthusiasm and, when she moved back to her माइती after the year-long mourning period was over, she got all the women around her to crochet as well. They started supplying their products to Nepal Wool House and a government store in Basantapur. The items sold fast and more orders started pouring in.
Crocheting, and eventually knitting, became a way for her to sustain herself and her young son. It also became a way for her to afford the education of her son and daughter-in-law and their three kids as well. With a simple crochet and a pair of knitting needles, she was able to provide for her family and for the families of all those who worked for her. She turns 102 this February and still feels indebted to that neighbour who taught her how to crochet 86 years ago.
In the age of power tools, lasers and 3D printers, it’s easy to forget that even those who use simple hand tools (or crochet needles) are makers; and that the generations of women before us, whether by necessity or by interest, were all makers. Starting from the stitching and embroidery class in the very first #MakerKT workshop, we have been trying our best to reclaim the word ‘maker’ so that it is not just used for manly and power tools-using activities, but also for those using simple, every day tools. In our continual effort at reclaiming ‘making’, the first Crochet Workshop was held on January 14th & 15th, 2017.
Led by Neiha Joshi, the social entrepreneur behind Must Haves, and assisted by Sunita Tandukar, the two-day workshop began with learning how to do a simple chain stitch. Once the women got used to making chains, they learned another vital lesson while making with wool… ripping out their stitches ( उदार्ने ). With a heaviness in their hearts, they undid all that they had made in the last hour so that they can start re-making again (in addition to being very meditative, crocheting can also be a lesson in impermanence. Buddha would’ve approved!). They then moved on to building upon stitches using single stitch. Progress was slow, but steady. The first day ended with them having ‘homework’ to finish their single stitch rectangular patches.
The second day things got a little more complex, but the ladies were up for a challenge! They learned how to use their single stitch and chain stitch to make a scrunchy-looking flower. Some made them into a broach while others made it into hair clips. They then learned to make rows of double stitch, half-double stitch, triple stitch and half triple-stitch. Having learned the basics of crocheting the day before, and (almost) getting used to making their L-frame with their hands, progress was much faster. At the end of the class, they combined all the stitches and made a flat-petaled flower.
Usually #MakerKT sessions are a noisy affair with women chatting and discussing. The buzzing energy is energising. But this session was completely different. Never was a #MakerKT workshop so quiet. Everyone head bent down, silently counting their stitches, and quietly crocheting. Every once in a while, they would re-adjust their hands or sigh and rip out some stitches. This silent crochet session, with everyone in deep concentration on their work, was energising in its own quietly different way.
Below are some pictures where you can witness this quiet, meditative crochet workshop. We can’t wait for another session!