Focus on Jay Crochet: A fashionable twist to an age-old crafting technique

Handy Jackie's creative process revolves around self-expression and translation of emotional states; as well as a recalcitrant touch of non-conformity.

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The craft of crocheting has survived generations in Zimbabwe, passed down over gleeful conversations and taken mostly as a hobby. Some of you might remember your mothers and grandmothers using their downtime to make ‘madhoiri’ – jerseys, blankets, gloves, tablecloths.

In the 2020’s, crocheting has evolved from utility pieces into snazzy designs that reflect the emergence of a new generation – the explorative Gen Z.

Although still essentially one of fashion’s many subcultures, there have been some pioneers of crochet in contemporary fashion.

Worth mentioning is Jacqueline Mposi; affectionately known as Handy Jackie by her friends and family.

The 26-year-old founded her fully-crochet brand called Jay Crochet in 2023, but it had been a long time coming.

Her expertise in crochet has been nurtured since her primary school days, where she would spend holidays being taught the craft by her grandmother.

“I learnt to knit, in primary school, we did a subject called Home Economics. I used to go on holiday at my grandmother’s house, and she used to crochet.

“Everything I know, I learnt from her. I would help her crochet jerseys, blankets, and some other stuff,” reminisces Mposi. As she grew older, her innate creativity and desire to set herself apart from the crowd earned her the ‘eccentric’ tag.

“I have always been told that my dressing is weird and I have a weird sense of fashion because I like to stand out and express myself through what I’m wearing.

“You see me wearing something which you wouldn’t understand; it’s probably some sort of feeling that I woke up with, and when I put on the clothes, I’m portraying that feeling,” she explains.

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It was only a matter of time before Mposi channelled that flair into a creative endeavour, coupled with a skill that was passed down to her by her grandmother.

The same feeling she experiences when dressing herself translates into the pieces she creates for Jay Crotchet. Each crochet item she makes communicates the mood she was in when crafting it.

Jacqueline ‘Handy Jackie’ Mposi

Of course, her creative process revolves around self-expression and translation of emotional states; as well as a recalcitrant touch of non-conformity.

“My creative process is me expressing myself. It’s just me trying to move away from the norm, I hate conforming to society. I would do anything that is not accepted if I could (laughs),” describes Mposi.

And as for the well-fitting nickname, Handy Jackie …

“I have two sisters—one is not hands-on, and the other is just like me, she does a lot, so we always joked around about how we can do anything with our hands, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I can just call myself Handy Jackie.”

And so, Handy Jackie started Jay Crochet as more of an outlet for her creative passions.

“My brand basically started as a hobby. I just decided that I needed to commit to something, and I found something that I liked because I love creating things that I can call my own and actually say, ‘Oh, I made that,’” shares Handy Jackie.

Jay Crotchet ruffle hat

In addition to satisfying her hunger for creative expression, Handy Jackie decided to start her brand as an effort at commitment to a concept.

“How I needed to commit to something has been one of the greatest inspirations for having my own brand. I have been that person that does something but ends up leaving it to go start the next thing.

“With Jay Crochet, I decided that I’m going to start and keep doing it,” she declares.

What started as a hobby has paid off for Handy Jackie, as it has produced a collection we’ve christened ‘Friends’. Why? Because Handy Jackie initially made the collection for herself and her close-knit circle of friends.

However, the pieces garnered rave reviews beyond her inner circle, which spurred her confidence in creating pieces that resonate with others. She has since been making custom pieces to order for a growing clientele in and around Harare.

The appreciation and support Handy Jackie received from the ‘Friends’ collection has fueled her passion and optimism for the future of her brand.

With crochet gaining recognition day by day and some notable influencers starting to don it, she is hopeful for Jay Crochet’s growth and success in the future.

“I had great experience for the outfits that I made for my friends, and it seems like crochet is about to trend now. I’m hoping for an even better response on my next collection,” she beams.

So, what’s in Handy Jackie’s crochet bag of tricks for 2024?

“I am working on a shirt, summer shirt vibes. Could be too colourful for some, but it’s coming along very well,” she reveals.

This upcoming collection will be the first official Jay Crotchet collection, and Handy Jackie hinted at a potential collaboration with an artist willing to work with her.

“It’s going to be a collaboration with one artist who is willing to take a chance on a newbie.”

In her mind, Handy Jackie might be a timid newbie, but the reality is she is already miles ahead of most.

She has managed to take a crafting technique that has formed a part of our culture for generations and make it relevant in a new age.

Crocheting will live forever and ever fashionable through her and those she will inspire with her work.

You can check out her works: @handy_jackie on all socials and on WhatsApp: https://wa.me/263786265479

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