Ready for Take Off!

Ready for Take Off
By Carrie Melago

For Howie Woo, crochet is about more than warm winter accessories and cozy blankets—it’s a whimsical vehicle for storytelling. Woo whips up mind-blowing crochet creations, from ray guns and grenades to shark fin soup and cans of orange soda pop, and then writes humorous, nutty, and touching stories about his artwork on his popular blog, WooWork.com.

“My lifelong aspiration is to keep sharing stories and to demonstrate how playing with art can keep us playful at heart,” he says. Dubbed a “genius goofball of crochet” by one blogger, Woo is a talented illustrator and filmmaker from the Vancouver area who had ogled yarn at stores since childhood. He finally taught himself amigurumi through books and YouTube in 2008, then quickly began designing objects that had rarely, if ever, been depicted with yarn.

Trained at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Woo doesn’t merely photograph the images and post them online in the traditional crochet blog format. He spends hours creating imaginative and bizarre narratives revolving around his creation, then painstakingly documents them with photos, illustrations, and videos.

In one post, Woo reveals that he’s an international spy who has been given a secret mission: To test the energy potential of beta-carotene by flying around in a (crocheted, of course) carrot-fueled jet pack. In another, he details the adventures of a restaurant-hopping robot who is a very bad tipper. He even took yarn bombing to a new level by crocheting cheerful raindrops with kitty and puppy faces, then hanging them outside to represent “raining cats and dogs.”

“When drawing or making movies digitally, I stare at a flat computer monitor. But when crocheting amigurumi, it’s refreshing to make something in real-life 3-D, with plushy form and textures,” he says. Sometimes, Woo is drawn to a macabre news story, like the “Trouble Sisters” in Florida who burned their house down after playing with a lighter. On the blog, they found themselves in jars of pickles and jam.

But frequently, Woo draws inspiration from life around him, carrying around a notebook to jot down any “crochet-worthy” ideas that occur to him out of the blue. When his girlfriend was about to fly to Los Angeles for a 10-day reunion with friends, Woo
crocheted her in a one-person propeller plane, capturing her likeness down to the blond streak in her bangs.

He also crocheted a bright orange stock market notebook like the one he and his dad, who died when he was 13, used to track stocks after watching the movie “Wall Street.” His blog post discusses how his dad, a businessman, supported his artistic side.

Shy by nature, crochet allows Woo to showcase his personality, often with the use of his miniature yarny alter-ego. “It’s a wonder-filled life when we can create wonder-filled worlds with our hands,” he says. “I’m lucky to have WooWork.com as a crochet playground!”

 

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