Crutches + Crochet = Crutchet

My Mum came to visit me earlier this year and we decided to start playing around with crochet and knitting. This is something that I had shown little interest in during my childhood and teenage years, however I was interested to learn a new skill, perhaps as something that I could integrate with my current practice.

The initial attempts at knitting were, to put it mildly, awful.

My knitting is incredibly tight, a possible symptom of my ongoing inability to relax. Conversely, my crochet skills were much better. I found it much more intuitive and simple. Although I will pursue knitting as a pastime, the idea of crochet started me thinking about other things that I could apply to my project work.

Having spent some time playing with various textures on a pair of old crutches I picked up, I started to think about how I could integrate crochet into this process. One of the patients I had interviewed was a lovely Swedish lady who has Polio. She was very much into ‘cosiness’ and longed for reminders of her past in Sweden. I decided that crochet was the way forward for a project linked to this lady and decided to use the colours of the Swedish flag as a signifier of the link to her.

I began quite quickly to start crocheting around one of the crutches, just for fun. Then I decided just to carry on, because it was therapeutic, relaxing even. I began to think about what applying crochet meant in terms of the crutches. It looked cute and kitsch, but it also touched on something serious. Crochet is a traditional craft process, used for thousands of years to make clothes and furnishings. It is a quick and relatively cheap way to decorate and personalise.

What had started as a bit of a joke, began to form into a proper idea.

The process of crocheting around something was relatively easy, once I knew how. The beauty of crochet is that you can make it up as you go along, there is no fixed pattern to use and you can turn and move around the piece as you please. I enlisted the help of my friend Jorunn Hustoft to help me gain a bit more knowledge of the craft.

Once I was up and running I was able to make quick strides and became faster with my making.

The outcome is a rather startling and surreal piece of work. Although whimsical, the crutches still serve their purpose and they are customised for the patient. Taking almost a week to complete, these really are bespoke crutches. Who knows, maybe Crutchet will catch on?

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About Hanna Mawbey

Design work that questions preconceived ideas about medical appliances by turning those preconceptions on their head. My main topic of interest focusses on medical equipment, its aesthetic qualities and desirability. I aim to explore a conceptual, research-based and ideas-led approach to the making of medical instruments which sometimes serve more of a playful purpose than functional.

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