INTERACTIVE: Why Embroidery, Cross Stitch and Knitting are Trending in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Since the start of the pandemic and many movement control orders, many Malaysians have turned to productive activities to avoid boredom. Some have turned to hobbies such as gardening, cooking, stamp collecting, and learning a new DIY skill.

The stay-at-home period also saw a resurgence of craft activities.

Some artisans are revisiting old hobbies like quilting, crochet and knitting, while others learn new skills like embroidery and needlework.

Since the first MCO, more and more people in Malaysia have gone online to research topics related to needle manufacturing.

According to data from Google Trends, the keywords “crochet” and “embroidery”, for example, saw a noticeable increase in popularity in Malaysia compared to the run-up to the pandemic.

For some Malaysians, acquiring a new hobby during OLS is a method of self-empowerment, as people try to make sense of the challenges in their life.

Adapting to the new normal was not easy. In a year and a half, many people have struggled to balance work responsibilities and family commitments while staying safe during the health crisis.

A 2020 study conducted by University College London found that artistic activities can reduce inflammation and stress hormones such as cortisol while helping to reduce the risk of dementia. Other studies have been more specific, highlighting a direct link between textile craftsmanship and improved mental well-being.

Klang-based craft enthusiast Decklan Wong, 48, turned to embroidery to give him a sense of comfort and relaxation after a long day at the office. During MCO, he spent most of his free time hand-embroidering portraits of singer David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

“I spend too much time working with numbers during working hours. Embroidery takes a lot of patience, but there is joy when stitches turn a blank canvas into a work of art. my form of comfort and therapy, after work hours, ”said the senior account manager, who shares photos of his designs on his Instagram account, @dkrwilber.

Embroidery is my form of comfort and therapy, says Wong. Photo: The Star / KK Sham

Online learning opportunities

Digital media platforms have become particularly valuable during the pandemic, as they allow artisans to learn new things from the comfort of their own homes. Thanks to the many virtual lessons offered on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, people have adopted new ways of learning to stay in the know.

Interactive technologies like Instagram and Pinterest have become an integral part of our interactions to stay in touch with people around the world. These platforms allow people to find communities with similar interests, and friendships are formed as well.

During the Tokyo Olympics, crochet became a mainstream hit after British Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley posted photos of his hand-sewn crochet clutch and sweater to his Instagram handle @madewithlovebytomdaley.

“The only thing that kept me sane throughout this process was my love for knitting and crochet and everything to do with sewing,” Daley explained in a video posted to his page.

The #tomdaleyknitting hashtag has over two million hits on TikTok. The Gen-Zers began to follow suit, knitting and crocheting balaclavas, purses and dresses thanks to the astute skills of the Olympic idol.

The #crochet hashtag currently has over 4.6 billion views on TikTok, while #embroidery has over 2.9 billion views.

Social media has been abuzz after British Olympic diver Tom Daley shared a photo of his hand-knitted cardigan during the Tokyo Olympics.  Photo: Instagram / madewithlovebytomdaleySocial media has been abuzz after British Olympic diver Tom Daley shared a photo of his hand-knitted cardigan during the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Instagram / madewithlovebytomdaley

Asia’s Next Top Model winner and artist Sheena Liam has helped breathe new life into embroidery. On her instagram account – @ times.new.romance – she has built a following for her contemporary creations of embroidery of female portraits in dark threads that represent the hair. His works have been featured in international magazines and exhibited in Paris.

Asia's Next Top Model winner Liam hosted an exhibition in Paris for her artistic embroidery designs.  Photo: Instagram / times.new.romanceAsia’s Next Top Model winner Liam hosted an exhibition in Paris for her artistic embroidery designs. Photo: Instagram / times.new.romance

Crochet also became a global craze during the pandemic. Just Google those three words – “hook,” “pandemic” and “Covid 19” – and you’ll get over 15 million results.

Some people have turned their passion for crochet into an income-generating activity.

Izach Lim, a yoga teacher based in Kuala Lumpur, was stuck at home during the first MCO and he took the opportunity to learn crochet using digital media. Today he sells all kinds of items like doilies, bags and caps.

“I have always wanted to acquire a skill that you can live on. Having multiple skills is helpful. If you lose his job, he can count on his other skills to make a living, ”says Lim, who shares his beautiful creations on his Instagram account, @ the.crochetguy.

Lim says crochet is a meditative hobby.  Photo: Izach LimLim says crochet is a meditative hobby. Photo: Izach Lim

Popular quarantine hobbies

A comparison from Google Trends (March 2020-October 2021) found that people living in Perlis, Putrajaya and Pahang are more interested in research related to crochet rather than embroidery.

Crochet ‘mask extender’ – a band used on the back of the head, over the hijab – was a breaking keyword on Google Trends (May-Aug 2020) in Perlis, Negri Sembilan and Terengganu.

It’s not wrong to assume that Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskanda¬riah’s posts on her handmade crochet extensions on her Instagram handle (now disabled), airtangantunkuazizah, helped put those adjustable bands under the projectors.

Punch embroidery – a technique where a punch needle is used to punch loops in the fabric to be embroidered – is gaining momentum in digital media. The #punchneedle hashtag currently has nearly 180 million views on TikTok.

With so many strong points on the craft, it’s no surprise that the arts and crafts sector is on the verge of skyrocketing at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 8.1%, reports the businesswire.com business portal.

The Arts and Crafts Supplies Market Research Report – Global Forecast to 2025 – Cumulative Impact of Covid-19 Market Statistics projects growth to RM246.52bil (US59.36bil) by 2026.

Locally, several craft stores have seen a significant increase in their sales since the pandemic.

During the first MCO, PJ-based craft store Sin Wah Tailor Supplies saw a 50% increase in online sales for knitting yarn, wool and cross-stitch items, said its founder Loh Sin Sung.

“There was also a great demand for cotton fabrics and elastic bands, items used to sew face masks. This year, however, the online market for these items has fallen.

“This year the trend has changed where there is a growing demand for crochet, knitting and embroidery items. Over the past few months, we have noticed that customers are frequenting our physical store.

“People prefer to shop in our store because they can see the products, which makes purchasing decisions easier,” he said.

Yee Wan Chang, owner of Yee Button in the SS2 area of ​​Petaling Jaya, said the outlet saw increased sales of embroidery and cross-stitch kits, leather craft sets and sewing articles.

“We saw a big increase in sales through our website and online marketplaces during the MCO. When we were able to open our physical store, we noticed that more families were coming to our store to purchase handicrafts. . It’s always nice to see mothers and their daughters buying items and making connections through craft activities. “

Covid-19 can have many drawbacks, but it has allowed people to choose meaningful hobbies while staying at home.

Through craftsmanship, family ties are strengthened while heritage trades such as knitting, embroidery and quilting are passed down from one generation to the next.


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