At the store, Harris discovered a special hand-dyed yarn named in his honor (Observatory Circle) from Neighborhood Fiber Co., a woman-owned business based in Baltimore. Five days later, on International Women’s Day, a crochet mural featuring Harris and the words “I speak” was installed on the quayside. And with all the googling for “Kamala Harris and crochet,” there was a pic at craftyiscool.com from online sales for a pattern for crochet a Harris doll in the Japanese amigurumi style. (Translated from Japanese, amigurumi means little knitted toy, says Allison Hoffman, owner of the Austin business, “but I tell people I crocheted little dolls and cute toys with yarn.”)
The cool crochet factor was already on the rise, as hipsters helped the hobby shed its image of being old ladies. During the pandemic, more and more people purchased handicrafts such as quilts and knitting for comfort and to pass the time. Knitters are a much larger group, but the global crochet community has grown as artistic crocheters continue to post their rugs, bralettes, sanitizer bottle lids, and cardis on social media. And Harris’s association with crochet is huge. “Knowing that the vice president is a crocheter gives me credit on the streets,” says Hoffman, who sells patterns for Amanda Gorman and Bernie Sanders dolls, among others. “Now I can say I’m doing what Kamala Harris is doing.”
Harris visited Fiber Space, a yarn store in Old Town Alexandria, to check with owner Danielle Romanetti on how Romanetti was handling the pandemic and to discuss the covid-19 stimulus package.
“I didn’t know she was hooking,” says Romanetti, who was contacted by the vice president’s office about five days before the visit. “When she introduced herself and said that it was a surprise to us and most of the knitting and crochet community were excited to find out. The news spread very quickly. “
While Harris was in the shop, Romanetti showed him the burgundy Observatory Circle thread that bore his name. Harris bought a skein, which Romanetti understood Harris would give to his stepdaughter Ella Emhoff, a New York fashion student who designs knitwear. After the Biden / Harris post won the election, Neighborhood Fiber owner Karida Collins created the thread to mark the moment. “I wanted to commemorate how important it is that our Vice President is female, black, Asian and the child of immigrants,” Collins says.
Hoffmann says she was also moved to create something to honor Harris on the night the Biden / Harris ticket won the election. “I watched her speech where she was wearing the white pantsuit. It was such a moment, ”says Hoffman, who writes books on amigurumi and sells models and supplies to make the dolls and toys.
“That night I started crocheting the Kamala doll,” says Hoffman. “I developed this line of wool for different skin tones. I had the perfect color. She quickly started selling patterns to crochet the doll, which has two shoe options: heels or sneakers.
The mural at the wharf consists of 150 squares crocheted by volunteers. It was organized by wool bomber and street artist London Kaye through Love Across the USA, an organization that creates crochet art installations honoring notable women. Kaye was inspired by watching the events on inauguration day, and she posted a caption on Instagram (@madebylondon) for volunteers to crochet 24 by 24 inch squares that would be combined into a 40 foot wide mural .
“It only took one message. I had enough volunteers to make four billboards, ”she says. Kaye didn’t know Harris was a crocheter until she started planning the mural, she says. Kaye came across a 2018 Vogue article where the vice president’s sister, Maya Harris, called her “crazy crochet.”
Through a partnership with the Wharf and the Southwest Business Improvement District, Kaye organized the installation of the completed mural outside the Officina restaurant on March 8, International Women’s Day. This will last until Memorial Day weekend, she said. Second Mr. Doug Emhoff has visited the mural before, and Kaye is hoping Harris will come and have a look at it as well.
No response from the White House on whether the Vice President brought one of her hooked Afghans to her official residence at Number One Observatory Circle. (Or if she has time for crochet these days.) She and Emhoff moved there last week after staying at Blair House while renovations were underway in the 1893 Victorian home.