Kohl Crecelius and two of his friends from high school wanted to do something meaningful with their lives and they decided to use their crochet skills to make it happen. When I first heard their idea five years ago — California surfer guy who loves to crochet beanies and wants to use that skill to lift people out of poverty — I could not have imagined how that story would develop.
They weren’t exactly sure how they would use their crochet skills for good until one of the friends took a trip to Uganda. There he met people who had been living in government camps for over 20 years. Rebels had attacked their villages and these people had no other means of survival. They were poor, uneducated and had little hope for their future. A generation of children had grown up in the camps knowing no other life.
The “Krochet Kids,” as they were later described by their local newspaper, taught the women in the camps how to crochet hats, and they then helped them sell those hats back in the U.S. That’s when we got the request in 2009 to help get them started with a donation of yarn.
It sounded like an incredibly ambitious idea. They would have to get yarn to a third-world country, teach a group of people they had never met (and who were living in unfathomable conditions) to crochet, make sure that the hats that were made were of good enough quality to warrant a fair price, market the hats, and sell them in stores in the U.S. It seemed like a long shot but we believed in them.
Today, Krochet Kids International is a registered charity. They have lifted over 400 people out of poverty by employing about 120 women in Uganda. They have started a similar program in Peru and their product line has expanded to include garments and home decor that are hand-sewn. The handmade goods are sold in select independent clothing stores around the U.S., as well as at Nordstrom, Whole Foods and Urban Outfitters.
I really love the fact that each hat has a hand-sewn label with the name of the maker on it. Not only do you know where in the world your hat came from, but you know who actually made the one you’re wearing. Through the Krochet Kids web site, you can even send a thank you note to the woman who made your hat.
If you’ve ever taught someone to knit or crochet, you know how it can change their life. We look forward to bringing you more stories about the Krochet Kids in the next couple of months and to hearing your stories and ideas about how knitting and crochet can empower people.