Don’t tell 12-year-old Jonah Larson that boys shouldn’t crochet.
“Do what you love and don’t care what other people think,” Jonah says.
He’s been crocheting since he was 5, when he found a crochet hook in a bag. “It was so shiny, and he was really enamored,” says his mom, Jennifer Larson.
They live in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She told Jonah that she didn’t know how to crochet, but if he was interested, she’d figure out how to help him learn. So she found a YouTube tutorial for a dishcloth, set it up, and let him go.
“I left him alone with the iPad, the hook, and the yarn," she says. “I went about my day, and when I came back, he had a dishcloth made.”
From that moment on, Jonah was a crocheter.
Jonah uses the power of his hands for good.
Little by little, Jonah would learn a new stitch, try a new tutorial, and make a new crochet piece. Pretty soon, he started making his own tutorials and even started his own YouTube page.
And it doesn’t end there. Jonah also has his own books, a video series, and several social media channels. He tries to use all of these for good, too. To date, Jonah has raised more than $25,000 for the village in Ethiopia where he was born.
Here’s a photo of some of the kids in the village bringing in chairs to their new school library, which Jonah helped supply with books.
He’s currently working to raise enough money for the school to have microscopes so the kids might be able to become doctors, like he wants to be. If you want to support Jonah and his efforts, visit his website, Jonah’s Hands. However, don't expect to buy something right now because, as he says on his site, "When I’m in school I do not sell my crocheted items. Thanks for understanding."
But should boys crochet?
Even though Jonah and his mom will occasionally hear people say that boys shouldn’t crochet or it’s a hobby for girls, those comments have never mattered to them.
“The truth is, we never had a conversation about it,” Jennifer says. “It never even crossed our minds if it’s something we should let him do. With all of my kids, we try to give them freedom to try new things and explore any interests they have.”
Jennifer is the youngest of 11 and grew up on a farm, where everyone had both a lot of responsibilities and the freedom to try new things. As a parent, Jennifer tries to give her own three kids the same space to figure out what they like, what they don’t like, and who they want to be. This means letting them be independent. Above all, she wants them to figure things out for themselves.
“I don’t want my kids to be me. I don’t want them to be my husband. I want them to be them,” she says. “Sometimes kids become little clones of their parents, and I don’t want that. I want them to find their own way and be their own person.”
Be proud of what you do.
But there is one thing that Jennifer does push all of her kids on—confidence. She believes that helping her kids find and build their confidence can be a big help in whatever they end up doing.
“Each child is unique, and you have to find out who they are and build on those strengths,” she says. “Jonah is proud of his crochet and shows confidence in what he does. And I think that has given other kids confidence, too.”
This is exactly what Jonah is trying to do. He says, “When I bring my crochet into school, I stand up tall, and I walk down that hallway into the classroom with confidence. Other kids look at me with respect, and I think of myself as a role model because I’m being confident. Then other kids can look at me and say, ‘I want to be like him.’ And I can just make everybody confident so they can do what they love.”
Check out our video of Jonah, below.