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There are many ways to show love. Food, pretty words, acts of service and a gentle touch are all excellent examples. One that has existed for almost as long as the concept of humanity is the gifting of fiber arts.

Fiber Arts

Fiber arts is defined as the skilled creation of art using fibers like fabric or yarn made from natural or synthetic fibers. It is a fine art, one that we use every day in our clothes, homes and tools. One that has often been overlooked because it is an art dominated mainly by women.

As the production of fiber arts has moved from mechanical production 27,000 years ago to fast fashion today, the need for people to knit, sew, darn and mend their own clothing is nearly nonexistent. Why spend 80 hours and $100 in yarn to knit a sweater when you could order one on Shein for $8? For love, that’s why.

Is there a better way to say ‘I love you’ than with a handmade sweater? Each garment was lovingly custom-made for one person. Each stitch carries thoughts of them, each panel hair of the maker, accidentally women in. Hours of skilled labor and wrist pain go into a gift like that. But it’s worth it, no matter how antiquated some may think the craft is. The members of UH’s Patchwork Pals would agree.


The Patchwork Pals

When Alejandra Smith founded the Patchwork Pals during COVID, she never thought it would grow into what it did. The graphic design and marketing major just wanted a space to practice crafts like crochet and quilting with friends. Upon seeing UH did not have a club for that yet, she decided to start one.

“I created it because I took a fibers class and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to take it further. So I kind of put out an announcement,” said Smith. “I started a Teams meeting… and Marielena was actually the only one to show up. I was heartbroken!”

Marielena Carmona, an art major, was eager to join a club where she could meet people that love yarn work as much as she did.

Joining the club

Although retaining members for a crafting club online proved difficult, the club continued to chug along. A labor of love, Patchwork Pals currently has 99 members in their Groupme, all gained through Get Involved or Instagram recruitment. A significant group follows them on discord, and a smaller but loyal group consistently shows up to in-person meetings.

Megan Benavides, the membership officer, recalls the first time she came to a meeting.

“When I came, I didn’t know anybody,” Benavides said. “A lot of the people were from the fine arts department or architecture. I didn’t like I knew nobody there, but everybody was really, really nice. Really, really welcoming. You just don’t feel like a stranger. It was a really good time.”

Each meeting is a very relaxed affair. Newcomers can expect to walk into a room with crafters and good vibes. People bring their own project to work on. Snacks are often provided. Sometimes, the club watches a movie while they work. Other times, an officer will lead a workshop for people that want to learn to crochet.

Patchwork Pals is a wholesome organization that runs on passion and loyal participation. It is one of the avenues through which a lifelong love of knitting, crochet and patchwork is kept alive. This Valentine’s day, the officers invite you to step out of your comfort zone and create a craft for someone you love. Below is a beginner-friendly tutorial on how to crochet your own Valentine’s heart. Use it to make earrings, a patch, a keychain, a garland. The only limit is your imagination!

Materials

  • Medium weight yarn
  • 5 mm crochet hook
  • scissors

Stitches to know

  • Magic ring
  • Chain (ch)
  • Slip stitch (ss)
  • Double crochet (dc)
  • Triple crochet (tc)

Instructions

  • Begin with a magic ring
  • Ch 2
  • 6 dc into magic ring
  • Ch 2
  • 1 tc into magic ring
  • Ch 2
  • 6 dc into magic ring
  • Ch 2
  • Ss into magic ring
  • Cut the working yarn and pull it through the ring
  • Tighten the magic circle
  • Cut the yarn and weave in the end
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