By Janet Tappin Coelho
A 13-year-old Brazilian boy has become a social media sensation after a picture of his crocheted rug won thousands of fans that he now live streams videos teaching others the technique.
Jose Ideildo da Silva, known as Junior, started challenging taboos with his unusual choice of the hobby after watching his grandmother and aunt crocheting.
The young crocheter’s videos have become such a hit he now has over 340,000 Facebook followers and 39,000 subscribers to his Youtube channel, that he’s able to earn a bit of pocket money to fund his habit.
“I always found it fascinating to see how a needle and some yarn could be used to produce some really beautiful things,” the schoolboy said.
“When I was 11, I asked my grandma Celia and aunt Cristiane, to teach me how to crochet. I learned really fast and posted a picture of the first mat I made on the internet.
“A lot of people saw it and questioned if I’d done it. That’s when I came up with the idea of recording videos to teach people what I’d learned.”
The talented fellow sits in front of his mobile phone and films his nimble fingers at work, giving step by step instructions on the technique and detailed guidance on how to craft each piece.
He live-streams up to three times a week from him home in Iaras, south-east Brazil, greeting his followers by name and chatting to them as he crochets. He also edits and posts supplementary videos.
“We thought his interest would be a ‘flash in the pan’ and he would soon drop the idea,” said his 33-year-old mum, Denise Marcolino.
“But two years on Junior is going from strength to strength and challenging stereotypes by proving it’s not only women who crochet.”
Along with rugs, bed throws and table mats, the creative lad has recently started producing and selling knitted bikinis, tops and dresses.
The proud mum continued: “He has fans following him from all over the world, asking him for tips and advice. He gets stopped in the street and complimented on how skilful he is for one so young.
“What’s really good is that he now has other boys picking up the hobby too and has taught his younger sister, Yasmin, who is nine, to crochet.
“Teachers at his school have asked him to lead crocheting lessons in Art Education for those students who want to learn, and he’s sold quite a few pieces of his work.”
The housewife, who manages her son’s social media accounts, admits Junior’s activity has drawn disapproving comments from those who believe a boy shouldn’t pursue this pastime and criticism from others who accuse her of child labour.
“Some people have expressed some really strong views that I’ve had to shield Junior from because they’ve been offensive and upsetting,” said the divorced mum of four.
“Others accuse me of exploiting him. But Junior is like any other child, he plays video games, hangs out with his friends, plays football, watches TV and his school grades are very good. He posts the videos when he wants to and there is no pressure on him to do so.”
The supportive mum stressed: “We have made it a policy to ignore this negativity and keep on encouraging him to do what he enjoys. He uses the money he makes to buy his materials to support his hobby. We are all happy with his success.”
Last year August, the skilled youngster, who was 12 at the time, faced a setback when moderators removed his Facebook profile because he had breached community rules by being under the age limit to open a page.
“I was devastated when this happened,” recalled Junior. “I had over 50,000 followers at the time. I even thought about giving up everything. But I love crocheting too much so decided to continue with my mum’s help.
“For me crocheting is fun and different. It’s opened a whole new world for me. I get to interact with so many people. I make them happy by listening to and answering their questions and encourage them to experiment and tackle more difficult projects.”
Junior has since surpassed his previous subscriber numbers. His loyal fans frequently comment that his enthusiasm for his hobby is refreshing and contagious.
“I feel so privileged to be in this position. I plan to keep going for as long as my followers love and support what I’m doing,” he vowed.