Having a neverending to-do list both at work and in our families has impelled many of us to forget about self-care. But lest you forget, practicing self-care doesn't have to be counterproductive.
Learning a new hobby is a good way to take care of yourself and, at the same time, remain productive. And if you're thinking about which hobby to start to help you enhance your life, then crocheting could be your best bet.
Surely, most Filipino households have had crocheted pieces lying around the house, serving as decorative pieces over an old DVD player, center table, or even wearables made mostly by our lolas.
Today, Gen Zs have managed to keep the old craft alive. With colorful, funky staples that scream retro, crocheting continuously radiates the vibrant tradition in the form of trendy staples you can wear on casual days, to most intimate moments in the form of dolls or crocheted flowers you can gift to your loved ones.
Before its income-generated opportunity, every crocheter first got hooked on this craft by enjoying it as a hobby. PhilSTAR L!fe talked with young crocheters to explore the craft and its effects on one’s well-being.
Getting hooked with the hobby
Curiosity piqued Efraim Villanueva, 22, to try crochet. “I started when I was 12, I was watching my grandmother crochet a bedsheet, it was the nosiness and admiration [for] my grandma's craft that made me want to try crochet,” he said, adding, “I usually meddle with her things and materials, that later on, she taught me how to make a phone pouch that is so popular back then.”
This paved the way for him to have another source for self-fulfillment and starting his crochet business, Gantsilyo Gwapito, “It's not really about crochet, but it is about the self-fulfillment of accomplishing something new that you can add to your skills, that's one thing,” he said.
In addition to this, Efraim has found crocheting to be a hobby that keeps him empowered. "It gives me 'powers' that allow me to do anything I can imagine. And that's why I think I can do this for a lifetime unless I lost ideas," the entrepreneur said.
While Erin Cervañez, 20, was first introduced to crocheting by her aunt “on a random day way back 2014."
"My aunt 'Mommy Yeye' brought home a crochet set and gave it to me. I still have the exact box, yarns, and hooks with me. So I literally had no choice but to learn," she said.
Since then, Erin learned the craft on her own through YouTube tutorials, “just indulging on how each stitch makes a texture. Overtime, that grew to become something significant."
"Little did I know that I'm able to use this skill to create unique and original designs now,” she shared.
A way to unwind
However, Erin had a long pause in doing the craft until 2020, when most people are in lockdown due to the pandemic. “In my hopes of finding hobbies to pass the time. I remembered this 'old' hobby of mine. I took the materials I have (the ones originally from 2014) and started crocheting again.”
“I found it therapeutic and a way to escape during those trying times,” she added, marking the start of her journey with her business, Mmelc.ph.
Erin shared that she usually crochets to de-stress, “I crochet when I need peace when I'm stressed when I can't gather my thoughts and when I just want to. It's a lifestyle for me now.”
This resonates with Efraim, who also uses the craft as a pastime “especially as a commuter."
"The traffic is worse that you can finish a crochet pouch with your travel time,” he said.
Crocheting for creativity
Other than business-related purposes, crocheting does wonders for the doer’s mind more than just a way to relax.
"When I crochet, it helps me focus and calms my mind. It distracts me away from the stress caused by the school works, and now from adulting anxiety," Efraim said.
“It has been my outlet for my creativity where I can express myself and my imagination. Crocheting has also contributed to my self-confidence because it gives me pride and makes me somehow admirable to some," he continued.
Apart from menswear and Filipiniana, Efraim crochets a variety of items from keychains to amigurumi and other wearables.
Likewise, Erin sees crocheting as a way to hone her creativity "since this craft requires intricate details to focus on and is really time-consuming."
"It's the safe haven I have when I need a break off of reality," she added.
Two years of focusing on the hobby, Erin can “crochet almost anything,” but she’s especially focusing on creating wearables. “I find myself 'stitched' to pieces that I can flaunt with me,” she said.
Dealing with the burnout
One’s passion will always spark joy, but can also be tiring. Efraim avoids being burned out by remembering how he first got hooked on the hobby.
“I do get tired of crocheting especially [when] working on a really big project with repetitive design patterns. But to say burned out, I haven't.," he said. "To feel burned out means working/doing something you are not enjoying anymore and I prevent myself to feel it by doing it not solely for profit and by making sure to prioritize projects I enjoy making.”
Meanwhile, Erin experiences burnouts whenever she puts pressure on herself in creating new designs every day and emphasized the importance of rest.
“In any state of exhaustion, all we need to do is rest,” she said, adding, “Your ‘best’ isn’t identical every day, you might finish 5 tops in a day and none for the next one ‘cause you took the day off, but it’s still as important. It’s better to energize for as long as you want before starting a project than working yourself every day even if you’re over fatigued,” she said.
As a beginner, the start will always be a struggle, but Efraim emphasizes the importance of perseverance and willingness to excel at it.
“I always believe that talent is only next to perseverance and willingness in being the most important values to have in learning crochet,” he said, adding, “Because perseverance and willingness help accomplish things you might think you can't. But one must also have goals and vision to help you continue doing the craft.”
Erin believes that struggling is one of the important parts of progress as it is one way to gauge one’s improvement, “Struggling just means that you're on the right path, 'cause we all started there. Luckily for us, there are a lot of courses and free online sources to learn about crochet in the comfort of your own home. Take advantage of these materials,” she said.
True enough, crocheting has proved itself for decades for being one of the most functional hobbies and, at the same time, one of the best ways to know one’s self.
As Erin said, crocheting is versatile: “Crochet does not choose. It is for all. It can be made with your choice of material, in all sizes and endless color ways."
"I'm grateful to be one who's able to present something new with this craft and break stereotypes. I hope and I know that it will continue to expand and be part of everyone's way of life.”
She emphasizes, “After all, it's not just a trend, it's living tradition.”