Angel Vazquez, an 11-year-old from Auburn, is mastering the art of crocheting. After building his skills over several years, he now crochets octopuses to knitted Seahawks scarves with ease. Vasquez returned to where he took his first lesson and is now displaying and selling his handmade pieces in A Little Knitty yarn shop.
Building His Craft
Reflecting on his passion for fiber arts, Vazquez’s mother, Monica Dantzler, recalls sitting in an Auburn Starbucks when her son’s attention was caught by someone knitting. He was only eight years old. Soon Vazquez was sewing things around the house. He would fix holes in blankets and socks and sew old pillowcases onto small pillows.
To help advance his skill, Vazquez started watching YouTube videos about knitting and crocheting. After discovering A Little Knitty, Dantzler registered him for a Sit-n-Stich class with store owner Jen Reeves. Attesting to Vazquez’s abilities, Reeves shared that “he took to it instantly. He outgrew me as a crochet teacher very quickly.”
In the beginning, Vazquez decided to take knitting lessons before discovering he has a strong preference for crocheting. After seeing a crochet hook, his curiosity was piqued, and Vazquez decided to take a crochet class. He explained that there was something about making loops in yarn and interlocking them into crochet stitches that appealed to him.
When Dantzler confuses the difference between crocheting and knitting, Vazquez reminds her that knitting requires needles while crocheting requires a hook. Overall, he believes that Reeves and YouTube were great sources to enhance his craftwork and use of the art.
In addition to his colorful octopuses, Vazquez’s exceptional skills have enabled him to make items of varying intricacies like potholders, scarves, hats, cowls, blankets, and scrunchies. Most recently, he learned how to make a whale, which, along with the octopus, reflects Vazquez’s love for the ocean. Unsurprisingly, one of his most requested items is a Seahawks colored scarf. One of Vazquez’s costumers has ordered five Seahawks scarves.
When asked what crocheting and fiber arts mean to him, Vazquez simply responded with, “everything.” According to Dantzler, “it helps him to relax in times of stress.” Vazquez shared that his teacher at Pioneer Elementary School, Melyssa Mclaughlin, would allow him to crochet during a quiet time in class, which he appreciated.
“It helps me to kill time when I’m bored,” added Vazquez. This became valuable during the Stay Home Order for the COVID-19 pandemic. Vazquez would attend daily zoom classes, during and after which he would crochet. This pattern will likely continue with the Auburn School District using a full distance learning model. He will also spend a great deal of time crocheting and knitting this summer.
Dantzler shared an uplifting encounter she and Vazquez had at the Auburn Department of Licensing. While waiting, an elderly woman showed interest in a rose he was making. When he finished that rose, Vazquez gave it to the woman. She quickly went to her car and returned to give him $5, expressing her gratitude. The excitement and appreciation for Vazquez’s talent spread, with several employees buying a handful of his finished items.
A Part Of The Commu-Knitty
Reeves kept in touch with Dantzler on social media and would see all the creations he was making. Happy to support the continued growth of his talent, she was delighted to accept Vasquez as a consignor, providing space for him to display and sell his handmade items. “When the idea of carrying his small creations came up, I was very willing,” said Reeves.
Vazquez feels happy and proud of himself that his items are now for sale at A Little Knitty (102 E Main St, Auburn, WA 98002). He shared that part of selling his handmade items is to make people feel happy. Although he likes to share his pieces with everyone, Vazquez especially likes it when they are gifted to other children.
Most of Vazquez’s frequent customers are women, including moms. A first-time customer came to the store a week ago after seeing a post of Vazquez’s work on social media. She bought an octopus for her son’s birthday. Some guys will also order hats of their favorite sports teams’ colors. Vazquez has even received orders from out of state, having just sent an octopus to Oregon.
His items will be available with Reeves until further notice. This availability may be impacted by retail regulation changes to the state Safe Start Plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Vazquez is a great kid,” said Reeves. “I am so proud of his constant pursuit to try new things.” In sharing Vazquez’s story, Dantzler wants the community to see some positivity and “a child who is not living on electronics.”
Author Bio: As a former Iraqi refugee, Mohamed-Moshe Elias (Mo for short) has lived in the immigrant-absorbing city of Kent, where he finished high school and studied at Green River College. After GRC he earned a bachelor’s in Political Science and Jewish Studies from UW. Mo is now pursuing a master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action with concentrations in Diplomacy and the Middle East at the Paris School of International Affair in Sciences Po.
As an intersectional member of the LGBTQIA+, Muslim, and Jewish communities, Mo Elias strives for building bridges, enhancing dialogue, and creating space for (and among) all.