CROCHET may not be a new art form but there has been a huge craze on social media for ‘amigurumi’, the Japanese art of crochet toys.
Just type “amigurumi” on your phone or keyboard and you will find a load of images of cute and cuddly crochet figures, free patterns, social network groups, and blogs dedicated to these adorable dolls.
The name amigurumi is portmanteau of two words: ‘ami’, which means crocheted or knitted, and ‘kurumi’, which means wrapping.
In recent years, it has been a big trend in the crochet world, and Malaysian crocheter Lydia Wong has taken full advantage of it. It started out as a hobby when she was a teenager, and Wong, now 49 years old, has fully mastered the art.
At that time, crocheting was about making sweaters, blankets and mittens. Times have changed.
Now, the art of crochet has been reinvented into the creation of cute animals or fancy character dolls.
It was the desire to create amigurumi which brought back Wong’s love for crochet in 2012. Since then, she has been passionate about creating palm-size amigurumi dolls, which she refers to as “concert dolls” – mostly female characters in fancy, colourful and fashionable attire, which can melt the hearts of many.
Even toddlers wouldn’t be able to keep their little fingers off her dolls.
Apart from making the beautiful, captivating, sophisticated dolls, Wong also makes other common crochet items like bags and baby booties.
However, Wong prefers to make dolls because she loves to let her imagination flow, and for her creative mind to come up with ideas for the doll design and pattern.
“Crochet is a creative art for me,” she revealed.
Rediscovering an old hobby
“One day, I looked at Instagram and saw crochet dolls made by a French artist Isebelle Kessedjian. I had never thought that crochet could be used to make such a beautiful doll. From that day onwards, I started to search for more information about dolls,” she said.
“I revived my interest in crochet by making simple items like phone casings and baby booties for friends and colleagues. It was a form of stress-release, and I was very happy each time the work was completed.”
Wong participated in crochet activities organised by other crocheters on social media, which allowed her to improve her skills and to learn new ones.
“Then, I started to challenge myself to make a doll. I made my first (design) doll without any pattern, and it worked. The next year, I bought some patterns and modified them,” she said.
“After a friend encouraged me, I started a Facebook page (Lydiawlc Magic Wonderland) in June 2015. I created my first crochet doll and named it Jill. To date, I have designed about 20 crochet dolls with patterns.”
Sometimes, Wong would organise crochet activities herself to share details about her latest designer dolls with her followers.
According to her, most crocheters from foreign countries, especially Taiwan and China, like her designer dolls. One particular doll, Mermaid Ava, is a favourite among crocheters from Western countries.
“I feel happy and fulfilled when I create and finish the design, although it takes time to come up with new ideas and write the pattern,” she said.
It takes a day or two to make a simple doll, and three to five days to make a more complicated, detailed and intricate doll, using a thin or lace yarn. The lace yarn gives the doll an exquisite look, while the doll’s size is much smaller than one made using a thicker yarn.
The most difficult doll she has ever done is the ‘Chinese Palace’ doll, due to the complex details on the doll, including setting its hair.
In the future, Wong hopes to open a small crochet shop, as well as to organise crochet classes and sell yarn and crochet tools (after her retirement).