The past few years seem to have yielded a renaissance of handicraft hobbies amongst teens and young adults. This resurgence could be attributed to a new sense of awareness surrounding fast fashion, sustainability, individuality of style and the influence of platforms like TikTok, where emerging trends feature handicraft skills and creations.
My own experience learning handicrafts has not only given me the chance to make cool stuff for myself, but has also provided an outlet of relaxation, creativity and fun.
The bralette rule
I taught myself how to crochet in the middle of lockdown when, bored out of my mind, I stumbled across an Instagram reel of a girl who had crocheted herself a bralette. Filled with newfound inspiration, I masked up and ventured to Michaels, where I confronted the daunting wall of crochet hooks, picked one at random, then opted for the cheapest yarn.
Back at home, I watched Bella Coco’s “How to Crochet For Absolute Beginners” video multiple times before I eventually managed to make a chain. Feeling triumphant, I spent roughly ten hours over the next week crocheting a bralette.
It was horrible. The multicolour green yarn I had picked translated badly to the shape, making me look like I was cosplaying some sort of swamp creature. Even worse, the cups didn’t fit, the stitches were uneven and the band was too big. Now it resides in my crochet basket — a humbling reminder of an important handicraft lesson: Never start with a bralette.
For my second crochet project, I scaled back and decided to crochet a granny square. After a couple tries, I was satisfied with what I had made. Using this new mastery of granny squares, I made a whole tote bag out of them. I graduated to a scarf, then a beach sarong.
I applied the bralette lesson in all my projects and endeavored to challenge myself only a little bit at a time — a strategy that has served me well, especially as my interests shifted to a new type of handicraft.
My next handicraft obsession was embroidery. Strangely enough, this interest was inspired by a rewatching of Midsommar, when I found myself appreciating the white embroidered dresses donned by the culty Swedes. I once again paid a visit to the mighty home of handicraft (Michael’s) and bought myself a beginner’s embroidery set.
As I worked on this set, I realized I liked embroidery even better than crochet — it felt more creative, relaxing and my hand cramped considerably less during the process. An added benefit was that I felt like an aristocratic woman of the Regency era, spending my day embroidering and sitting primly in the parlor.
After finishing my purchased pattern, I started drawing designs of my own, practicing my stitches on scrap fabric I had pulled from the textile purgatory bin in my basement. Eventually, I decided I was good enough to try my hand at embroidering an actual piece of clothing. I thrifted a plain brown t-shirt off the $1 rack, and with a new pack of embroidery floss, some washaway stabilizer and a design I copied off Pinterest, I was ready to go! Five hours later, I was pleasantly surprised with the result. I was downright ecstatic when the shirt actually survived a wash.
Sit down, relax, have a handicraft
Crochet and embroidery have proven to be not only fun and surprisingly simple hobbies, but forms of real artistry that are creatively fulfilling, as well. My next goal is to tackle the spooky, scary sewing machine, a skill unexplored since Home Ec in middle school.
I’m glad to see the growing number of young people taking up these handicrafts and embracing traditions that have become increasingly neglected over the past few generations. With the wide availability of free, accessible tutorials and guides online, it’s never been easier to learn a new skill — and nothing is more satisfying than getting a compliment on a piece of clothing that you made yourself.