It’s always amazing to see young people use their talents to help others. Crochet prodigy Jonah Larson of La Crosse, Wisconsin is doing just that – his amazing crochet pieces and unique designs figure prominently in his philanthropic work for his birthplace in Ethiopia.
Aside from helping his community, his crochet work has won numerous awards and his story has landed him in various magazines, newspapers, and TV talk shows.
Jonah was born in Durame, southeastern Ethiopia, and adopted as an infant by Jennifer and Christopher Larson, who are also parents to son Leif and daughter Mercy.
Now 15 years old, Jonah first picked up a pair of hooks at five years old and taught himself to crochet from a simple tutorial. He started small, and from a simple dish towel, he moved on to making a hat, and then scarves.
But then he started bringing home ribbons from county fairs, and by age six, the crochet prodigy was beating the grandmothers he was competing against.
Jonah began challenging himself to create more complicated designs, which have become the basis of his popular and thriving business.
Maybe he was first noticed as the boy who could crochet, but Jonah is certainly more than that. Aside from being a crochet prodigy, Jonah is a published author, having written his first book “Hello, Crochet Friends!” at age 11.
He released his second book “Giving Back Crochet” in June 2020 at age 12. He started his own business called Jonah’s Hands, LLC at age 11 and has his own website, where he posts his various projects as well as tutorials so that others can also learn to crochet.
As if that were not enough, Jonah is also a math genius. He also enjoys basketball and the occasional video game.
Jonah’s stunning pieces now include blankets, headbands, dog coats, baskets, baby booties, mermaid tail blankets, and afghans. His most complicated project was an afghan of 800 flowers using a puff stitch.
What drew this crochet prodigy to the craft in the first place? According to his mom Jennifer, “Crocheting calms him. His mind is normally very busy, but he’s crocheting.”
His infectious enthusiasm and commitment to giving back have earned him a worldwide following.
Jennifer said that Jonah’s popularity primarily comes from online boards for crocheting and the crochet community has been very supportive of her son.
He first shot to fame as an 11-year-old in 2019 after he was featured on the cover of the La Crosse Tribune, and people immediately warmed up to the then-precocious pre-teen’s speed crocheting skills.
He has since been featured in hundreds of articles in the New York Times, The Times of London, Forbes, Oprah Magazine, People, USA Today, and many other publications.
He has also guested in various TV programs, including the Today Show, Little Big Shots with Melissa McCarthy, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Drew Barrymore Show, and Pickler & Ben.
His fame has also spilled over to social media; he now has 393,000 followers on Instagram and 258,000 on Facebook.
The crochet prodigy became good friends with actress Drew Barrymore and in 2020, Jonah was introduced as a kid correspondent on her talk show. On the show, Jonah features noteworthy projects, interviews celebrities, and helps people get started on crocheting.
He also does his segment while crocheting, and will often finish a piece by the end of the show, including a blanket, a scarf, and a beanie!
But of all his achievements at such a young age, the crochet prodigy is most proud of his philanthropic work for his birthplace.
Sales from his award-winning crochet pieces fund his projects, including Jonah’s Hands Library in Ethiopia, which now serves around 2,000 students.
Jonah learned to read at age three and wanted to share his love for books in the village where most children don’t have much, especially books and stories.
Jonah also raised funds with Jonah’s Library partner Roots Ethiopia to complete Jonah’s Hands-on Science Lab at Teza Gerba School.
After these two major projects, Jonah is now bent on building restrooms for the school. He said, “The latrine project that I’m currently raising money for is more expensive than the science lab or library that I’ve already built. It’s more complicated because it involves plumbing, for example.”
Jonah auctioned some of his crochet creations to fund the project, and his friend Drew Barrymore also gifted $5,500. The crochet prodigy welcomes donations through his website or GoFundMe page for the bathroom project.
Still in his teens, Jonah is an inspiration to many because of his crocheting skills and dedication to helping his home in Ethiopia. He also uses his voice to champion inclusivity.
As a boy doing crochet, Jennifer was initially worried about what the other children at his son’s school might think about Jonah’s passion for crocheting but, “he could not care less what people say.”
The crochet prodigy stays busy with his crocheting and charitable projects but hopes to travel back to his village in Ethiopia in the future to see the results of his philanthropic efforts firsthand.
He also hopes to inspire more people to pick up his passion for crocheting, stating, “I hope they will pull their hooks out and keep this art going into the next generation.”