Alexandra Parris began crocheting in November of 2016. Her great-uncle had recently passed away, and she was wandering the bright aisles of Walmart late at night, looking for groceries and perhaps something to do on the plane ride to her great-uncle’s funeral.
Parris, now a sophomore, packed her cart full of snacks. Then, a crochet hook and a ball of yarn caught her eye. She figured, why not? She’d never been much of an art person, but this would be as good a distraction as any on the hour-long flight.
“I think I bought a little ‘how to [crochet]’ book, but I gave up on that. Still pictures are dumb, and it’s the era of YouTube,” Parris said.
Parris struggled with the hook and yarn on the way to the funeral. Crocheting was difficult, but Parris began to think of it as a way to connect with her late uncle, who had loved to make art.
“He was always crafting; he was always into arts and stuff. So [crocheting] was not only busy work but also something he would have loved hearing about me doing,” Parris said.
When she got back to school, she kept working with the yarn and hook. After days of intense practice, her end product was a lumpy scarf, which Parris ended up giving to her mom as a present.
“I remember I stayed up all night trying to figure out how the hell to make it work,” Parris said.
Parris is now a master crocheter. She makes different colored hats inspired by the four Hogwarts houses, as well as hats that make the wearer look like they have cat ears. Of course, Parris still makes scarves too, but they are no longer lumpy.
Parris also wants more people to know about her favorite things to crochet — stuffed animals. Learning to make these little creatures helped her perfect the overall art of crocheting.
The crocheted stuffed animals even have a specific Japanese name, “amigurumi,” a combination of the Japanese words “ami,” meaning crocheted or knitted, and “nuigurumi,” meaning stuffed doll.
“They’re really good study buddies,” Parris said. “Every time someone comes to study in my dorm, they’re like, ‘Can I just hold your octopus while I read?’ ”
Once Parris figured out how to crochet them, amigurumi — especially octopi — were all she wanted to make. She now has to refrain from creating too many so that they don’t stack up in her room, in addition to selling.
“I don’t have room for 70 octopi. I already have like 70 balls of yarn,” Parris said.
Junior art major Beverly Morabito has also been selling works in order to keep them from piling up. In the last year, about half of the pieces Morabito has sold have been specific commissions or requests, while the other half were old pieces she was trying to purge from the stack in her room.
“When you’ve been painting for forever, you just end up having stacks and stacks of things. I would rather give something to someone if they’ll enjoy it, because if I have it, it’s just going to sit in my closet,” Morabito said.
Morabito wants to write and illustrate children’s books after she graduates. Whereas Parris only began crocheting in college, art has always been a central piece of Morabito’s life.
“I’ve just always loved painting and drawing,” Morabito said. “When I was little, I was always against coloring books as an idea, because I thought that was the dumbest thing in the world: Why would you want to color someone else’s picture when you could draw your own?”
Morabito says she can’t pinpoint the exact moment her mini business began, or even the first piece that she sold. Rather, making gifts gradually became selling commissions. She’s done more than drawing and painting, too. For example, a mom once asked if Morabito would wrap Christmas presents for her, and around homecoming season, Morabito would make mums for her friends.
Morabito primarily paints and draws now, but she doesn’t usually confine herself to any sort of theme or subject.
“I like color, and I like doing my own thing. I’m not the type of person to just sit down, look at an object and paint it,” Morabito said.
However, the art student is not above catering to high demands where she can find them. Morabito recently posted on the popular Facebook group, Overheard at Trinity, that she is willing to make customized Greek-themed signs for $10 each.
“I got that idea because my friend had someone last semester who was in [Alpha Phi Omega] and said, ‘Hey, can you paint something for me? I have to give something to my little, and I have no artistic talent.’ I thought, ‘Oh, OK. I’ll do this,’ ” Morabito said.
Knowing that people are willing to purchase the things she makes has been a major confidence boost for Morabito. Once, one of Morabito’s paintings was the highest in demand at a charity auction, garnering more bids than any other piece. She has realized that her art, though by her standards imperfect, nonetheless has the power to make people happy.
“You think, ‘Oh, the things I do aren’t that great.’ And then you slowly start realizing, there’s something here. This is worth something,” Moraito said.
Both Morabito and Parris have considered growing their small art businesses and perhaps setting up shops on Etsy, an e-commerce website. Parris even has a name for her business: Hooked on You Crochet. However, both endeavors remain based in emails, Instagram posts and Venmo payments for now.
To contact Parris about crocheted creatures and garments, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Morabito takes orders via email as well, at email@example.com, and can also be contacted through her Instagram, @missbeverly18.