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When you think of viral fashion — and, like it or not, you do think of viral fashion — chances are you don’t immediately jump to crochet or hand-knitting. Nevertheless, here we are: It’s 2021 and we’re in the midst of a hand-stitched revolution across social media platforms the world over.

Perhaps the global pandemic has exacerbated a need for something that feels more “hands-on.” Or perhaps many of us just had more down time with idle hands. But crochet and knitwear have proved a salve for both in a way that feels like an antidote for a fast-paced way of life. With this in mind, we reached out to some of our favorite crocheters around the world to stitch together the sitch.

Delsy Gouw of Memorial Day

Based in New York, Gouw has “always known how to crochet,” or, at least, since she was around nine years old and her mother taught her. She describes her work as a wearable, visual joke: an unmissable sight-gag of bright colors and bold patterns, expertly interwoven into everything from crochet bikinis worn by Addison Rae and Kylie Jenner to bucket hats worn by Bella Hadid.

Regarding the uptick in interest for her craft, Gouw points at something broader beyond crochet specifically: “It’s the DIY world that is enjoying such a moment right now. During the first lockdown, everyone was scrambling to find things to do or hobbies to revisit to find some source of happiness. Between DIY projects blowing up during lockdown and a spiked interest in how things are made, crochet just happens to fit in the center.”

Nanna Burmeister of Deima Knitwear

Located in Copenhagen, Burmeister’s Deima Knitwear is a project born out of a search for something meaningful in life. “I’ve always been creative,” she explains. “It’s so satisfying to make something you can put into use, and a necessity for me to sit still and occupy my time. People need something to do with their hands to stress down, and it’s a really great way to get your eyes off a screen for a little bit.”

What sets Deima apart from other creators may come down to material: “There’s infinite possibilities, and I’m a huge fanatic for natural fibers.” It’s a fascination that makes sense after looking at Burmeister’s creations; a style which can, at first glance, seem to skew toward traditional Nordic woolen garments, is brought to life on closer inspection by arresting color palettes — combinations that wouldn’t necessarily ever occur in nature, working in tandem with natural materials to create something both new and familiar.

Jessica Stahl of Stahl Knit

“The state of the world during the past couple years has changed the way people are starting to think about fashion,” Stahl explains of crochet’s surge. “People are looking into DIY and originality in their appearance, because fast fashion has taken the fun out of wearing clothing. Crochet has become a go-to technique for people to make their own clothes from home.”

She also notes that “it provides a sense of nostalgia for most people” — not because crochet is old fashioned (Stahl’s riotously contemporary work is testament to that fact), but because it offers a sense of humanity that is often difficult to find today. But there is still room to look back: “My aesthetic has always been greatly inspired by my grandmother’s ’70’s craft interior decorating,” she laughs. “I hope that each piece I create sparks pure joy.”

Sophia Khaled of Sophia Khaled

Currently studying fashion and textiles at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, Khaled reminds us, first of all, that she works in “knitwear, not crochet.” She says this not to say that her art form is the superior one, but to point out that she doesn’t “even know how to crochet,” and that each of these is a wholly distinct talent.

What first drew Khaled to the art of knitting was the ability to “create images and tell a story.” It’s something she first discovered by “using knitting and yarn as a tool,” with a rich, character-driven flair and a distinct tongue-in-cheek sense of humor — a manner that Khaled impishly and astutely describes as “playful and childish, but also a little satanic.” How else, after all, would you label a knitted black pony in full gallop on a pink halter top, captioned simply “666”?

Lisa Harvey of Green Rain Knitting

Like many of today’s DIY and craft creators, Harvey learned to knit with her grandma when she was around eight years old. “She taught me some basics and we made a scarf together,” she says, before admitting that it wasn’t until another eight years later that she really picked things up again, having to more or less start from scratch and “relearn the basics.”

Since then, Harvey has built a following online under the name Green Rain and carved out a niche in designs that are “colorful and comfortable,” with an approach to working that feels more purely creative than logical: “I wouldn’t wear clothes that aren’t comfortable,” she says. “I just don’t see the point.”

Alice Sofia Navarin of Rat Hat

Rat Hat founder Navarin arrived at crochet via an economics of art degree at the University of Venice and a career in modeling — the latter of which, like so many other things, was profoundly disrupted by the pandemic. The result? “I wanted to spend my time creating — away from my phone and laptop,” she says. Navarin points to the pandemic, too, in explaining crochet’s popularity: “We are finally back to where everything started, with handicraft instead of massive productions to reduce costs. There are always small businesses to discover — it’s interesting and it’s inspiring.”

Navarin is self-effacing about her process: “I’m a messy person. Order is something that doesn’t make sense to me. It feels like a limit, something where you must fit, otherwise you make a mess. But mess is free style and free expression without rules.”

Elizabeth Kaya Morgan of Gimme Kaya

Based in the United Kingdom, Morgan came to crochet as a former fine art student who, somewhat disillusioned, found her way into another kind of artistry through YouTube videos and a passion for thrifting. Morgan astutely points out that while “crochet has always had a place in fashion,” a newfound sense of freedom has led people to “pick up a new craft,” and to consider the impact of ubiquitous fast fashion brands. “There is a lot more awareness around the damaging impact of fast fashion, and the idea of making our own clothes or shopping sustainably has become a lot more appealing.”

Coming back to her own creations, Morgan refers back to her vintage sensibility as being “sometimes a bit silly,” but her fans provide enormous validation: “I feel like the inspiration I get from my followers has made me a better artist and has helped build my brand to where it is today.”

Head here to get a copy of HIGHArt, a magazine by Highsnobiety.

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