Tapestry Crochet Yarmulkes, photo source.
Win Htay is an immigrant living in Philadelphia after fleeing terrible conditions in Myanmar. A Jewish volunteer helping her to resettle saw that she could crochet and thought it would be great if she made handmade yarmulkes to be sold at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Htay may not be Jewish but her immigrant plight has correlations that relate to Jewish American history and the museum is happy to provide her with a little bit of extra income for her handcrafted work.
Issues in Myanmar
Htay fled Myanmar due to political and military repression. Htay’s immediate family had all died in Myanmar. For example, her father caught a fever while doing slave labor work for the military. Women in the area are often raped and everyone is subject to brutal treatment. Htay ran into the jungle to get away. Eventually she found her way to a refugee camp in Thailand. She met her husband there and they came together to the US.
Win Htay’s Crochet
Htay taught herself to crochet by reverse engineering a scarf pattern that she saw. Her volunteer helper saw her crocheting a scarf during a visit. She brought her more yarn and Htay started crocheting scarves that the volunteer sold for her to provide her with a small bit of income as she adjusted to life in America. The volunteer was at the museum one day when she saw the yarmulkes and thought that perhaps the museum would like to switch out the ones they had with ones hand crocheted by a local immigrant artist. Htay doesn’t want to be just an artist; she’s hoping to be nurse someday, but the chance to connect with others and earn a little money through crochet is definitely appreciated and enjoyed!
original news source: Jewish Exponent