ANN/THE STAR – Widow Lalita Ramasamy almost fell into depression after her mother, Kaliyanee Mayandi, 71, died due to cervical cancer last November.
Lalita found it hard to accept her mother’s death, which affected her physical and mental health.
To overcome her grief, the Penang-based woman turned to crochet, her long-lost hobby, to help her get back on her feet.
“I took care of my mother throughout her illness. The most challenging part was filling the void after my mother passed away. I didn’t know how to cope with the situation. I am thankful my three children encouraged me to focus on crocheting,” said Lalita, 52, during a Zoom interview from Tanjung Bungah recently.
Lalita spends between four and six hours a day with her trusty crochet needles and yarn, creating dangling earrings in various designs and colours to trendy crop tops, scarves, bags and beanies for her only daughter, hairstylist Yuveneswary Maheswaran, 27.
Lalita feels much more energised and upbeat since she rekindled her interest in crochet, which she said is her lifesaver.
“Crocheting is therapeutic and relaxing. It helps calm the mind and is an excellent pastime.
The most important part of crochet is the focus. Make one mistake and it will affect the entire project. That motivates me to ensure each project is crocheted with the right calculations. Slowly, it has also helped me heal from grief,” said Lalita, whose husband, Maheswaran Marimuthu, an air force corporal, died of liver failure in 2014.
Lalita added: “My biggest satisfaction is in completing a project. It’s a self-soothing activity, and that’s what I needed after my mother’s passing.”
Crochet is the process of creating textiles using a crochet hook to interlock loops of yarn, thread or strands of materials. It involves a lot of counting to join loops of yarn using different crochet stitches.
The most challenging part of learning how to crochet is deciphering crochet patterns, especially knowing the stitch abbreviations and terms. And that’s just the basics. Also included in the crochet patterns are symbols like asterisks, brackets and parentheses, making crochet patterns even harder to comprehend.
Lalita, a former kindergarten teacher, learnt to crochet from her aunt when she was a teenager. Over the years, she has crocheted dozens of mittens, table runners and cushion covers, mainly as gifts for loved ones.
“Back then, crochet wasn’t something I did regularly as I was busy with work and family commitments. My children are adults now and I have lots of free time on my hands, so I spend a fair bit of time crocheting,” said Lalita. Every alternate day, Yuveneswary uploads photos of her mother’s intricate crochet earrings on her Instagram.
What started as a platform to post Lalita’s creations slowly led to orders from family members and friends.
Today, she sells her handcrafted items across Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
“Anyone can pick up new skills on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I’ve learnt new crochet earring designs from YouTube video tutorials. Thanks to online videos, I have also mastered the art of making earrings. All it takes is patience and determination,” explained Lalita, who watches her favourite TV drama series while crocheting.
She has handcrafted many beautiful dangling earrings from different crochet patterns. They include designs like a crochet flat circle, geometry string art, and Swiss cheese plant leaves in various hues.
Her most popular design is the Indian jhumka (bell) earrings.
Lalita focusses on crochet earrings because they are fashionable and trending on social media platforms. On average, it takes her about 30 minutes to complete a pair.
But the journey hasn’t been a bed of roses for Lalita. Recently, there was an incident where a scammer tried to steal her brand name. In addition, she also has to learn to deal with negative comments on social media.
“Some people have said that my products must be inferior since they are cheap. Others have commented that my designs are mediocre. I’ve never faced such harsh criticism before, but I have learned to take it in my stride.
“I’m just a crochet enthusiast who wants to run a small home business. I am an honest person who sells affordable products. I feel great satisfaction when people wear my handmade earrings. There’s nothing more rewarding than that. Plus, I’m happy crocheting has saved me from falling into depression,” she concluded.