Credit: Shae Ashamalla | Mustang News

After about eight to 12 hours of work, materials engineering senior Caitlin Tang-Hornbuckle is finally finished with her embroidered “dumpster fire” that she has made for a friend — done all by hand. 

This is one of many crafts that Cal Poly students have made, from crocheted hats to miniature needle felted coffee cups. Activities such as knitting, needle felting and embroidery seem to have made a comeback amid the pandemic.

Tang-Hornbuckle said she started embroidery when classes first went online last spring and said she needed something to do with her hands. She got inspired to embroider after seeing people embroider what she thought were “snarky and funny” images on Instagram. 

“I thought it actually to be really cathartic as I was in my classes to be stabbing something repeatedly,” Tang-Hornbuckle said. “[Embroidery] is not just scrolling through social media, it is building something and making something.” 

“2020 Dumpster Fire” by Tang-Hornbuckle

Tang-Horbuckle said her favorite things that she has embroidered are pictures of dumpster fires that are labeled with “2020.”

“I have made different types of dumpster fires where my friends got to pick the colors of the flames,” Tang-Hornbuckle said. “I like being able to customize the dumpster fire to what they want while also still getting to work on something.” 

For comparative ethnic studies and experience industry management senior Astrid Herrera, she said her passion for crochet started when she was in middle school after experimenting with crochet hooks and making long chains at a time. 

Herrera is currently working on a cardigan, her first article of clothing that she will have made. This is the biggest project she has worked on, as it needs to fit around the body correctly, Herrera said. Whereas before with items such as hats, Herrera said she could gauge whether the fit would be acceptable or not beforehand. 

Herrera said she thinks people underestimate the amount of work that goes into crocheting, especially since she only crochets as a hobby and does not practice it every day.

“People appreciate that it looks good, but I do not think they realize how many hours go into these projects,” Herrera said.

“People appreciate that it looks good, but I do not think they realize how many hours go into these projects.”

Herrera said that she might want to start selling her products in the future, but she said she is skeptical when it comes to pricing her work. She wants a price that people would pay but also a price that is reflective of her hard work, she said. 

“They do take a lot of work but a lot of times, you will find something from fast fashion for five dollars that is exactly the same, so [pricing] is something I struggle with,” Herrera said. 

For theatre sophomore Megan Hunt, needle felting is where she found comfort. 

Hunt discovered needle felting through watching videos and said she decided to pick it up when she was bored during quarantine. 

Hunt has needle felted miniature coffee cups, frogs and Appa  —a fictional flying bison from the show “Avatar.” Hunt has sold a few of her items, but she said does not think she would want to turn it into a serious business in the future. 

“I usually just give them as gifts if I make them because I just think it is a fun hobby to do,” Hunt said. “It is definitely an idea I have thought about, but I would like to get better first because there is room for improvement.” 

Hunt said her favorite part about needle felting is that it is a stress reliever because she gets to stab at and create something that is entirely her own.

“I get to make things, even if they are ugly, I made them and there is some beauty to that,” Hunt said. 

“I get to make things, even if they are ugly, I made them and there is some beauty to that.”

While some picked up the hobby more recently, experience industry management senior Amy Evans has been knitting since her mom opened a yarn store as a child.

Evans said that it bothers her when people are only in it for the “trendy aspect” of knitting. 

“It really is an art form and it has this whole history that people do not know about,” Evans said. “I want young people to get into it, but it should not just be this trendy thing.” 

Due to her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Evans said that she likes how intricate knitting is.

For Evans, it is hard for her to sit still during movies or in class, so she uses knitting as a tool to help keep her mind more focused.

“Most of the time I’m knitting just to watch a movie or ‘The Bachelor’ with my roommates or during a lecture on Zoom,” Evans said.

From New York to Portland to San Francisco and Seattle, Evans has been to knitting conventions all across the country and noticed that many of the knitters have been on the younger side as opposed to the “stereotypical” grandma.

“There is this stereotypical old woman knitting in a rocking chair that everyone sees, but then there is also this super cool backstory behind all of it,” Evans said. 

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