Craftism: Changing Lives One Hat at a Time
It was 2003, and three high school students in Spokane, Washington—Kohl Crecelius, Travis Hartanov, and Stewart Ramsey—learned to crochet from Kohl’s older brother.
The avid snowboarders used their crocheted hats as a way to assert their style on the slopes, and when their peers noticed the cool hats, the boys began selling them to their classmates. After hearing about their crochet skills, a local reporter wrote an article that dubbed them the “Krochet Kids,” and the name stuck.
In 2007, the young men’s entrepreneurial drive and crochet skills dovetailed with their wish to help others. They learned that thousands of families in northern Uganda were living in refugee camps because of a civil war. What if they were able to teach some of them to crochet so that they could break the cycle of poverty, get out of the camps, and improve their lives?
“At first, I thought the world needed something more drastic than crochet, something much more profound,” Kohl writes on the Krochet Kids website. But he realized that the “simplicity” of crochet was “its most profound quality.” The low-tech nature of crochet was its true strength.
Armed with nonprofit status for Krochet Kids international (KKi), the Kids headed to northern Uganda and worked with a group of ten women from the refugee camps. They selected participants based on their number of dependents, in order to help as many individuals as possible at once. Some of the women picked up the craft almost immediately, and as part of a three-year plan, they made hats in agreed-upon designs for sale, allowing them to earn an income.
The women now earn enough to provide for both immediate and future needs, as they gain the economic freedom to send their children to school, start their own businesses, and buy land. Currently, more than 100 women work in the KKi facility in Uganda. Last year, another KKi operation began in Peru, where, using the same model, women have been taught to make machine-knit hats.
Every KKi hat has a tag inside signed by the maker. Hat buyers can go to the Krochet Kids website, find the profile of the woman who made their hat, learn more about her life, hobbies, and family and thank her.
The KKi motto is “Buy a hat. Change a life,” a mission that three high school boys began simply by daring to learn how to stitch with a hook and yarn. To learn more about Krochet Kids international, visit www.krochetkids.org.
BETSY GREER, author of Knitting for Good, can be found at www.craftivism.com.
Featured Image: A Krochet kids International crafter, Akello Agnes, Crochets in Northern Uganda. (photo courtesty of KKi)