'Crochet Queen' Jenny King tells us why we're about to see much more crochet on catwalks.
Once the stronghold of the free-love 70s, for a time it appeared that crochet was forever doomed to op shop purgatory – but the last twelve months have seen the humble art resurrected onto fashion runways and Pinterest pages at an impressive pace. That’s no surprise to Australia's self styled Crochet Queen Jenny King, who has been prophesying crochet's homecoming as a wardrobe mainstay for years.
First turning her love of crocheting into dollars at the tender age of 15, Jenny’s love of the craft has helped springboard an international career that includes the merchandising of books, video tutorials, products and patterns. Now, to celebrate the release of her book ‘Fashions To Flaunt’, we chat to Jenny about craft revivals, yarn bombing and crochet novices.
There has been a revival of handmade crafts in the last few years among a younger generation. Why do you think this is?
I asked my crafty daughter and her reply was that getting something unique to wear is often too expensive, while the common retail chains all look the same. The only way for her to get a one off is to make it.
The Internet has opened up the world to hand crafted products and techniques through tutorials on YouTube; Pinterest and Etsy are also really showcasing the revival. For some stay at home mums it means that they can use their creativity to make money, or at the very least helps them indulge in the craft. There are also markets such as Finders Keepers that showcase younger people using older techniques with a fresh flair.
We are selling a lot of crochet Bikini books at the moment .For $20 worth of yarn a person can make a crochet Bikini that would cost over $100 at the surf shops.
Crocheting in particular is experiencing an exciting revival, what is driving this trend?
There are so many big names in fashion using crochet in their range and this is driving the crochet revival. Crochet has been in all chain stores in the last 2 seasons.
Crochet has always been feminine and sexy and many people have at least one crochet garment in their wardrobe. Many second and third generations are wearing the same garment. For some, it just appeals to the hippie in us. It is probably called vintage and chic now.
What do you think of the recent trend of yarn bombing?
Great! When groups get together to yarn bomb it gives them a sense of teamwork, satisfaction and rebelliousness. Yarn bombing flips the bird at the stereotypical Granny’s graffiti-ing with yarn. And it is grand.
We did a Mermaid yarn bomb at the Caloundra fringe festival last year. We hoisted a 10 metre mermaid up into a tree. She was made by many volunteers over weeks. She became the guardian spirit of the festival.
How did you get started crocheting?
When I was 8, I wanted a bun cover like the ballerinas wore, so I asked everyone to show me how to make one! I also pestered ladies at the beachside caravan park when on holidays about how to do increases and decreases so that I could make my first Bikini at the tender age of 12 (even though I wasn’t allowed to wear it). Otherwise, I am mostly self taught. I sold some in a Byron Bay boutique when I was only 15. I made crochet bikinis for over 10 years and that helped put me through college.
What advice do you give novices wanting to try the craft for the first time?
Watch my Youtube video! It shows the basics: left and right handed in Aussie terms and USA ones. We use a big hook & big thread so it is really clear and it’s free.
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
For 20 years I have wanted to get a crochet piece into Vogue Knitting, and recently, they featured not one but two pieces. When they invited me to fly to the USA and teach at Vogue Live, I wanted to squeal with delight!
However one of my finest moments was when I taught a young mum to crochet so that she could make her daughter, Audrey Apple’s, first doll. Years later I found out that these skills allowed her to make dolls used for counseling troubled children. Her mother, the counselor, needed non stereotypical boy and girl dolls in dark colours with which these troubled kids could identify and none were available. So Audrey Apple’s Mum made them. As far as I am concerned, it doesn’t get any better than that.
What is next for you?
This year has started with a bang. I have just released yet another book. This is using Bavarian crochet for small ‘take with you’ projects. It is due to hit the shelves this month. It is the 2nd in the series. I will be flying to the USA again to film the video of this technique and will launch 6 new designs using the technique to promote it.
After that I am writing a plus size fashion book. I just can’t wait to do this. It is close to my heart and is what makes me popular. People who visit us at the craft shows and the shop are delighted to find fashions that look great on real women. I also have a full dance card for the crochet Guild of America to teach in July in Indianapolis.
Jenny King’s crochet pattern book ‘Fashion’s To Flaunt is out now.
For more information on Jenny King including her patterns and books, visit www.jennykingdesigns.com