Linh Dang ’23 Connects with Childhood and Subverts Artistic Expectations Through Crocheting

Pairing delicate white flowers with puffy sleeves that establish a simple yet comfortably detailed design, the personally-crocheted magenta cardigan is one of the many embroidery projects that Linh Dang ’23 has worked on in the past year. Dang was first introduced to crocheting as a childhood hobby from her mother, ​​who, in a post-war Vietnam, used crocheting as a fun pastime when other toys were not available.

“With [my mom and] the Vietnamese women in my life, crocheting was something that they engaged in… The Vietnam War took away a lot of basic forms of entertainment that they would have been able to play with, like a child these days would. [Embroidery] was something that they occupied their time with, and it’s [also] something that I was able to bond over with my mom, other family, friends… It’s just something that I enjoy, something carried over from my childhood until now,” said Dang. 

Aside from cardigans, Dang has also crafted an assortment of tote bags, hats, and stuffed animals. Throughout quarantine, Dang started to expand her crochet art beyond just following tutorials on YouTube, developing a more unique and self-expressive art style.

“I like to make projects that are really vibrant [and] fun. I tend to stray away from more classic sort of patterns, [but] I like to embrace the trends, and something that’s really trendy right now [is] vibrant colors. Also animals—I like incorporating animals into my projects. For example, I made a frog hat [that] I think really represented myself,” said Dang. 

Dang additionally emphasizes both self-expression and a subversion of normalcy with her crochet projects. According to Dang, the patterns she uses might be considered odd and atypical, but her execution of the style gives her some room for unique self-expression. Abby Andam ’23, a friend of Dang, highlights the distinctiveness in Dang’s art medium that accompanies her particular style. 

“In general, I’d say crocheting is a pretty unique area of art. I mean, you don’t often see many crochet exhibits, typically it’s just some type of illustration. I think that’s something I really enjoy about Linh’s art. In a way, it breaks the expectations of an artist,” said Andam. 

Dang not only views crochet as important because of the expressive and creative outlet that it provides, but also because of the connections it can establish. Though it certainly provides her with a sense of comfort amidst academic and extra-curricular stress, the significance of crochet extends beyond being personal—crochet allowed Dang to establish a community of family and friends who shared her passion.

“For me, it’s definitely something where I find a lot of peace and relaxation, especially after classes. I spend a lot of time in the maker space just crushing stuff and using the resources they have there. But at the same time, my crochet account has helped us connect with lots of other creators… It’s not only connected me to like other people online, but also to my family. I think I got to understand an aspect of my mom’s childhood that, luckily, carried on,” said Dang. 

Though Dang has not completely considered selling her designs or patterns online, she still wants to share her love for crocheting with the world, whether it be through teaching friends simple patterns or coming up with a unique one of her own. 

“For this year, I want to design patterns that I can release for free online. I’ve really benefited from different people’s patterns, and I think it’d be really cool to share my own sort of invention. I just have to figure out what sort of piece is worthy of me sharing online [that] represents my style of crocheting,” said Dang.