Stitching in warmth: 'The Winter Project'

Dina Ezzat , Monday 4 Dec 2017

The online crochet service is offered by the ‘hooks and hands’ of Farida Kamal

The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)
The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)

Upon the comfort of a warm sofa next to a table with a basket full of deep-colored yarn, sits the 25-year old Farida Kamal with a burgundy crochet hook in hand, weaving away at a new pair of woolen socks which are almost finished and ready for pick up.

Kamal pauses for a moment to check her online orders coming into the Facebook account of “The Winter Project – Hooks &Hands." She takes down the details of the next order onto her little green notepad before returning to the gray-and-red pair of socks that are only a few stiches away from being ready for packaging in her trademark old-fashion brown envelopes.

The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)
The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)

“I think the word is being spread around and it looks like business is picking up,” Kamal said.

It was a few weeks ago, late in October, that this graduate of biotechnology decided to launch her small online business that brings her life passion into reality.

“I guess I was around five when I first learned my first crochet lesson from my paternal grandmother. She herself used to crotchet and tricot a lot, and I was in love with it,” Kamal said.

Through an on-and-off process of learning and practice, under the guidance of first a grandmother and then a mother, Kamal found her way to produce nicely woven items that impressed family and friends as nice gifts.

The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)
The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)

“I did scarves and I did spreads and throws. That was easy, then I decided to get into socks. That was more detailed and more crafty in a sense,” she said.

With time on her hands, in the break between her university graduation and the new pursuit of a possible graduate degree, and with yarn and hooks next to her, Kamal decided it was weaving time.

“Then I had to do a pair of home woolen socks for Ismail [a family member]. I had to finish them fast enough for them to be sent to him in Italy, and before I got done with those, I had launched The Winter Project Online,” she said.

And while Ismail's gray socks are being sent to their destination in southern Europe, Kamal has been weaving on and on in the heart of Cairo.

“At this point of the business I am only focused on socks. This is the time of the year where a nice warm pair of home socks does come in handy,” she said.

The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)
The Winter Project (Ahmed Aref)

But the socks of The Winter Project have inevitably expanded. Currently Kamal is hard at work to finish an order of 100 small pairs of red-and-green socks that would be used by a client to decorate a Christmas tree once they are filled with little pieces of chocolate.

“Yes, I guess I would do Christmas socks if I get orders for those too, but I think I would still stick to socks only for a while – maybe later I would move into scarves and maybe even some home décor items, but not before Christmas and New Year,” she said.

Launching an online small business was not too hard, in Kamal's experience. “I just needed to get a pricing scheme, which I did online, and to attend to a few matters related to the delivery service,” she said. “And so far it has been working well, no troubles so far."

The launch of online businesses whereby young men and women use their skills and the tools of communication offered by social media is a growing trend in which Kamal is glad to take part.

“I believe it offers two things: first an opportunity for young people to make a good use of their talents to earn a bit of extra money, and second to allow for individuality to regain space in a world of somehow aggressive mass production,” she pointed out.

Then of course, she added, it is also an opportunity for clients who wish to find nice items to buy at a more economical level.

“There is no secret that these online projects are by definition offering considerably less expensive items than those at display in the department store; and one can also have their items, be it the socks of The Winter Project or any other item, customized in terms of colour and size to their taste – not just to their budget,” Kamal said.

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