Yarn And Yearning of Young Kashmiri Crocheter

Nazar Nasir. KO Photos by Special Arrangement

For people, it’s unusual to see a boy in knitting field, but a Srinagar youth says he is proud to call himself ‘The only male crocheter of Kashmir’.

WHEN 21-year-old Nazar Nasir shared the idea of crocheting with his family members, he was bluntly told not to pursue the women line of work.

But despite his family resistance, this Literature student from Lalbazar had made-up his mind to live his dream.

Crocheting has been a well-known art amongst Kashmiris but it has been mostly pursued by the women for decades. It’s quite rare that a male while breaking some rigid stereotypes has made a name in it.

As a matter of fulfilling routine, Nazar mostly kept himself busy with crocheting — a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook.

It first started in 2016, when Nazar’s sister brought a crochet hook and some yarn from her aunt.

While she was wiggling the hook with the yarn strand, Nazar was so fascinated that he bought himself a hook and some yarn and started experimenting.

“I stayed up till 2 AM that night trying to figure out how it worked and ended up creating a tiny flower in the process,” he says.

That year as Kashmiris faced lockdown due to the protests over the passage of the popular militant commander, Nazar firmly took to crocheting as a blend of boredom and curiosity.

“To begin with, I made a band and a hand warmer without even knowing the name and the way of the craft that summer,” he recounts.

Months later, as the internet was restored, he did some research online and explored possibilities in the craft.

That curiosity is still there making his craft journey rewarding and innovative.

“I’ve started to learn and practice Paper Art now and my next target is Embroidery,” Nazar says.

Today, while many of his classmates are still finding themselves at the crossroads due to the uncertainty in their homeland, Nazar is showing the way.

His creative and curious mind is making many believe that they can create their own niche without waiting for their degrees to complete.

“For me, crocheting is not just a small business, but an escape from the world. I almost forget my being while crocheting,” says Nazar, whose passion turned profession has a brand name now — Knotty Crafts.

“It’s so healing and so peaceful to me that I can work non-stop without worrying about anything else.”

But being a “solo male worker”, it’s been hard for Nazar to manage all the work required to run a small venture.

There’re many steps involved from sourcing the material to making and packing and sending the product to the customer. And then comes marketing, photography and public dealing.

“Throughout this journey, it has been hard to strike a balance between my studies and the craft, but being a freelancer, I’ve always had this liberty to work as per my leisure,” he says.

“I’ve no higher authority to answer to and that has helped me strike that balance. I’ve studied and worked at the same time and by the grace of almighty, I’ve excelled in both fields.”

As a tech-savvy, Nazar is also making use of the online tools to build his brand. As part of his marketing strategy, he keeps sharing his creative work with his swelling social media following.

“I earned a huge customer base within five years with the help of social media,” the crocheter says. “I will always try to explore and create more interesting things.”

Nazar wishes to share the knowledge and experience that he has gained throughout these years with the people who are looking for ways to earn or divert their minds from the “stressful life” in Kashmir.

“A craft is not just a way to earn an honourable living,” he believes, “but also a source of peace and solace to your mind and soul.”

But in a society where knitting and crocheting are considered too feminine a profession to be taken up by men, it was very difficult for him to create his mark in the field.

However, paying no heed to criticism, Nazar started crocheting and two years later, he doesn’t regret his decision.

“People always talk and they say what they have to say, but today those who criticized me are always there for appreciation,” he says.

No craft or job is associated with any particular gender, he believes, “and if you’re passionate enough about what you do, you’ll surely shut all the mouths speaking negativity and they’ll be forced to appreciate it.”

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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