The group of 79 Muscat-based women has reasons to cheer as their efforts found the way to the Guinness World Record, a rare achievement when just 5 per cent tastes success among the thousands of applications received every month.
From a tiny loop to the 14.09-km mammoth scarf, this team of Indian women was part of the record-breaking Mother India Crochet Queen (MICQ) project.
It even had 27 children of whom 14 were boys. There were 13 children from Indian School Muscat, five from Indian School Wadi Kabir, three from Indian School Darsait, four from Indian School Ghubra and one each from Indian School Sohar and the Muscat International School.
“We catch them young,” said Kiranpreeth Sahni Nair, who is the regional head of MICQ Oman chapter. “We wanted to divert the attention of the children from the world of the Internet world and virtual reality games. Crocheting improves their concentration and takes them away from the gadgets which they constantly tinker with,” she added.
The youngest one to participate in the project was six-year-old Shreya Arun Umrani.
“It was not easy to bring kids into this. We had to teach them patiently and then keep them motivated. We gave them only two pieces each to be done since they have exams and school activities,” said Kiranpreeth.
The children were asked to do two pieces each while the adult members had to submit minimum five. The craft specifications were given and any colour could be used. It had to be 7 inches wide and 80 inches long.
“We thought that for a change why not teach boys too. Crocheting is not a gender-specific work. And thus 14 boys eventually joined us,” said Kiranpreeth.
A lot of siblings were part of this epic work along with their mothers. It was not only the glitter of a Guinness entry that attracted them, but also the opportunity to work for a cause.
“It was satisfying to know you are able to do something, especially when I saw my work first and felt I contributed to a good cause,” said 14 -year-old Pearline Chrissie.
About 457 pieces were made by the Muscat team and the oldest contributor was 55-year old Valli Padmavathi. Kiranpreeth herself had made 20 pieces of work.
“It was a hefty task. The beginners had to be taught. Kids especially had to learn how to hold the yarn and the needle. But it was done as a service to mankind. So we did it with love and compassion,” Kiranpreeth said.
“Crocheting needs lots of patience. It should neither be too tight nor too loose. It has taught me to be more patient,” said 12-year-old Aditi Sawant.
Most children took two days to complete a piece.
“My mom’s friend taught me this. The first time I made it was not that good. Then I tried again,” said 15-year-old Yazhini, “I enjoyed doing crafts always.”
“All the kids were enthusiastic about the work. Every one took responsibility to do their work. We also were encouraged seeing their enjoyment,” said a mother whose child was participating in the project.
After the verification and recognition by the Guinness Records officials, the long scarf was dismantled into nearly 5,400 individual pieces, most of which were donated to local NGOs across India. About 900 of them were sent to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and heads of state and government as a step towards spreading peace.
“Earlier, I used to watch TV during my leisure time. Now I crochet in weekends. I finished more scarfs after this project,” beamed 12-year-old Vaibhavie Dhiyanesh.
The project began in January and was completed in May.
“Initially, it was difficult. But I learned it quickly and did it properly,” said 16-year-old Vikesh Kesavan.
There were many kids who managed to complete the works amid their board exams too.
“I learned a new craft. It improved my concentration very well,” said 16-year-old Jewel Ann D’cruz, when 12-year-old Pravachana Jasmine said she “completed an extra one after the project”.
The meticulous work needs a lot of attention and patience and this was one thing that the children developed.
“My mom inspired me,” said 10-year old Karthik Harish Nair, “it was fun to be part of this team.”
“Such activities need to be encouraged more. It will certainly help the kids in their future life,” said one mother.
MICQ is a social media-based group of crochet enthusiasts, started by Chennai-based Subashri Natarajan. The initiative involves more than 1,800 women between the age 8 to 85 from India and countries worldwide.
They have now taken up their third new challenge to make the world’s largest collection of crocheted sculptures. Each team across the world is given a story board and they work along it. The theme this time is ‘Go green. Save Earth’. They hope to complete this work by December and beat a record made by an UK team with 13,348 sculptures.
The crochet queens also help in other charity works too. Recently, they handed over scarves and caps to Dar Al Hannan, a cancer association.
By October again they are planning to prepare scarves, caps and blankets for orphanages.
“I learned crocheting at school and later on started doing it as part of my work,” said Kiranpreeth who is a fashion designer as well. “I wish schools would include such crafts in their curriculum.”