Cro­chet hooks, imag­i­na­tion make ‘lit­tle thin­gies’ re­al­ity

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - HOME & GARDEN - By Jen­nifer Forker

When my daugh­ter Grace was lit­tle, she col­lected tiny ob­jects, some­times pil­fered from her sis­ter and squir­reled away in her bed­room. Among the 4-year-old’s prized teeny-tiny items were a Bar­bie suit­case, Hello Kitty erasers, a 1-inch plas­tic baby and an­i­mal fig­urines.

“It’s spe­cial to me,” she ex­plained when an item of her sis­ter’s was found in her room.

Ev­ery­thing tiny was spe­cial to this child, and the fam­ily came to re­fer to lit­tle ob­jects as she did, as “lit­tle thin­gies.” We still do, even though Grace is 18 and grad­u­at­ing from high school.

Lit­tle thin­gies have caught on in the craft­ing world, so much so that stacks of books are ded­i­cated to their cre­ation. Most are cro­chet projects, but other medi­ums, such as nee­dle felt­ing and knit­ting, also bend to­ward the tiny.

The Ja­panese gave lit­tle thin­gies a name: amigu­rumi — small, adorable crea­tures that are usu­ally cro­cheted. I’ve seen Hello Kitty and Star Wars char­ac­ters, comic book su­per­heroes and ev­ery an­i­mal un­der the sun in books tout­ing amigu­rumi pat­terns. What is the draw? Why spend hours hunched over a small, nonessen­tial project? You can’t wear it like a scarf or a hat. You can’t dec­o­rate with it, as you would a pil­low or a blan­ket. Al­beit adorable, the inan­i­mate ob­ject is a dust col­lec­tor. Cro­cheter Twinkie Chan of Ventura, Calif., at­tributes the at­trac­tion to this: ba­bies. “We’re nat­u­rally drawn to lit­tle, tiny things like a baby,” hu­man or an­i­mal, she says. “Stick some big eyes on (a project) and peo­ple will love it.”

THERE are prac­ti­cal rea­sons, too. “I don’t have the pa­tience to make any­thing big,” says Cindy Wang, au­thor of “Lit­er­ary Yarns: Cro­chet Projects In­spired by Clas­sic Books” (Quirk Books, 2017).

“I like be­ing able to make some­thing you can hold in your hand.”

Wang, who cre­ated pat­terns for Julius

Cae­sar, Ham­let, Franken­stein and many more char­ac­ters for “Lit­er­ary Yarns,” be­gan cro­chet­ing tiny fig­urines six years ago — mostly su­per­heroes. De­pend­ing on its com­plex­ity, a project can take two to nine hours. Wang likes to share her sim­pler cre­ations, and makes a game of it, reg­u­larly leav­ing the fig­urines at San Diego Comic-Con and in her home city of Hous­ton. She re­cently dropped off Marvel char­ac­ters such as Spi­der­man and Iron Man in New York City, tweet­ing clues to their where­abouts.

She says that only ba­sic cro­chet skills are re­quired to make the sim­plest dolls, al­though learn­ing how to shape them and adding em­bel­lish­ments is more com­pli­cated.

“The cro­chet­ing part it­self is the easy and quick part for me,” Wang says. “It’s the tiny de­tails that take time.”

Tay­lor Hart of Bas­trop, Texas, says begin­ner stitches and “the magic cir­cle,” which works a project in the round, is all it takes. Hart grav­i­tated to­ward sim­ple amigu­rami shapes for a lot of rea­sons. “It’s like ther­apy for me. It’s also fun,” she says. “They’re tiny and not stress­ful. They’re not a huge project. They’re cute. You can give them away as gifts. They make peo­ple smile.”

She kept dozens of pat­terns in her head un­til asked to write them down for her book, “Cro­chet Taxi­dermy: 30 Quirky An­i­mal Projects from Mouse to Moose” (Storey Pub­lish­ing, 2016). Her quick-cro­chet projects may be mounted on wood plaques to “spruce up your walls with a herd of hu­mane home decor,” ac­cord­ing to her book.

Other re­cent books tout­ing tiny trea­sures in­clude “Lit­tle Felted Dogs: Easy Projects for Mak­ing Adorable Pups” by Saori Ya­mazaki (Pot­ter Craft, 2016), “Let’s Go Camp­ing! Cro­chet Your Own Ad­ven­ture” by Kate Brun­ing (Martin­gale, 2016) and “Hug­gable Amigu­rumi: 18 Cute and Cud­dly An­i­mal Soft­ies” by Shan­nen Ni­cole Chua (Martin­gale, 2016).

YET there’s al­ways an­other side to the story. In this case, it’s go­ing large.

Chan likes to cro­chet small dolls, but su­per-sizes food. She cro­cheted a pink dough­nut floor pouf (with sprin­kles on top), a cherry pie seat cush­ion and a gi­ant ba­nana split sofa pil­low for “Twinkie Chan’s Cro­cheted Abode a la Mode: 20 Yummy Cro­chet Projects for your Home” (Quarto Pub­lish­ing Group, 2016).

Chan says her food-themed projects pro­vide a home with a sense of won­der. “It makes you feel lit­tle when the item is big.” Her whim­si­cal projects com­bine nostal­gia for toy food with chunky yarn and rain­bow col­ors. “It’s sort of a fan­tas­ti­cal qual­ity,” Chan ex­plains. “It’s not real life any more. You’re in a mag­i­cal world.”


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A cro­cheted oc­to­pus and koala bear are fea­tured in “Cro­chet Taxi­dermy: 30 Quirky An­i­mal Projects from Mouse to Moose” by Tay­lor Hart. Above right, char­ac­ters from the lit­er­ary clas­sic “Moby Dick” are part of “Lit­er­ary Yarns: Cro­chet Projects In­spired by Clas­sic Books” by Cindy Wang.

In­struc­tions for a ba­nana split throw pil­low are part of “Cro­cheted Abode a La Mode: 20 Yummy Cro­chet Projects for Your Home,” by Twinkie Chan. At top, “Lit­tle Felted Dogs: Easy Projects for Mak­ing Adorable Pups” is by Saori Ya­mazaki.

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