granny square crochet belt

Before I even got on the plane to go to Belize I realized that there wasn’t going to be a lot of crochet to be found in the country. As soon as I’d made the plans to take this New Year’s vacation, I’d begun to Google “crochet in Belize” and “Belize yarn stores” in an effort to figure out what I could see of the craft when I was there.

Belize textile shop

The only fabric store I could find seemed to always be closed

I did the same thing a few years ago when I went to Argentina and the result had been immediately satisfying when I had learned that there was an entire yarn district in Buenos Aires, which I subsequently visited and shopped.

belize hammock

The same was not true of Belize; I could find no results in Google for anything related to crochet in the country. I figured I’d just ask the locals when I got there. I asked our tour guides and random people who lived there where I could find a yarn store or any place to purchase yarn. They all seemed astonished that I’d even care to ask that question. “We don’t have that here.” One guide said, “we don’t use that part of the sheep here; we only use sheep for meat and the rest unfortunately gets thrown away”.

belize store

The Crochet I Did Find In Belize

I looked in all of the local shops for evidence that people there do crochet. I found very little of it. Here’s what I did manage to locate:

Tapestry Crochet

belize tapestry crochet

Several of the souvenir shops did have small collections of tapestry crochet items.

Belize tapestry crochet

They were mostly purses and hacky sack balls.

tapestry crochet belize

This was the only evidence of local crochet that I was able to find popping up regularly anywhere.

tapestry crochet purse

Pop Top Crochet

pop top crochet

In one small tucked-away souvenir shop in San Pedro I spotted a pop-top crochet purse. The woman who owned the store wasn’t able to tell me anything about where it came from, which is unusual because most of the other items had a story behind their source. I know that pop top crochet is popular in several South American countries, like Bolivia and Brazil. And I was intrigued by this piece because the style of it (where two tabs are held together in a sort of V-shape by the crochet work) is different from what I’ve typically seen.

leather bracelet

Leather strips woven through metal; it’s not pop tabs but it made me think that this would be another great way to upcycle pop tabs!

Crochet Granny Square Belts

granny square crochet belts

Finally, in another souvenir shop, I spotted a set of crochet granny square belts amidst the many other souvenirs. Again, I wasn’t able to get any information about who made these belts. They had to be made by hand, as all true crochet is made by hand, but it’s a mystery to me as to who made them.

Other Belize Textiles and Crafts

belize crochet and embroidery

You can see the Rasta hats beneath the embroidered coasters here; those are also tapestry crochet

belize embroidery

Although crochet doesn’t seem to be a widely known or practiced craft in Belize, there are a lot of other beautiful textiles and needlework crafts. The most popular of these is embroidery, with local women making many different types of embroidered items including coasters, rugs and art pieces. Weaving also seems to be a popular craft. The rich boldness of the colorwork is lovely to see in every shop throughout Belize.

guatemalan worry dolls

All of the stores sell various versions of Guatemalan worry dolls. These were actually a fond thing for me to see. When I was very little, my parents were friends with a couple of archaeologists. I don’t remember them very well because I was so young, but I do remember that they once brought me back a set of these worry dolls from one of their trips. I don’t know what happened to them over the years but I have clear memories of the dolls and the little traditional yellow painted box that they came in. The idea of these dolls is that you give them to children and they tell them their worries at night and by morning the worries are gone. I bought myself a worry doll headband as a souvenir.

belize hammocks

There are also hammocks to be round everywhere. I spent a lot of time lounging on the rainbow-striped canvas hammock in front of our own resort, watching the skylight change over the ocean. At least some of these hammocks appear to be handmade. I didn’t spot any crochet hammocks but there were hammocks made using other yarn and rope techniques and I found myself touching them frequently trying to get that feel of yarn in my hands!

belize textile

Hotpad that folds in half to stand up as a chicken

My Travel Crochet

crochet in airport

I did, of course, bring my own yarn and hooks on the trip. The trek to Belize from San Francisco is a long one. On the way there we flew all the way to Miami where we got another plane down to Belize City and then a small jumper plane to our island. On the way back, we had a shorter time in the air, because we flew through Dallas instead of Miami, but we had a longer time in the airports. In both cases, the restlessness of a super long day of travel was eased significantly by the steady rhythmic unfolding of fabric hooked in my hand.

lornas laces yarn

I chose not to heed my own crochet travel advice, which includes bringing only the yarns that you don’t love so much. The reason for bringing “practical” yarn instead of luxurious yarn on a trip is because you just never know what’s going to happen if you crochet during travel – from yarn lost in missing luggage to spills on the items that you’ve created.

crochet granny square

Nevertheless, I knew that I’d want truly comforting crafting on this trip so I brought several skeins of my nicer yarn.

granny square

I actually didn’t end up using the two nicest ones but enjoyed working with some Cascade and Lorna’s Laces, the combined colors of which seemed to reflect the hues of ocean and sky that I saw endlessly around me for the week.

belize crochet and ocean

It was a very special vacation. It’s the first real trip my beaux and I have taken together (with other travels thus far being made to meet each other’s families). And it’s only really my second time out of the country (minus Mexico because I grew up so close to the border in Tucson and Canada because I’ve only been to Niagara Falls).

belize

I snorkeled for the first time, swimming up close with green turtles, nurse sharks, colorful coral and some freaky-looking eels.

belize trees

I heard the crazy thunder-bass sound of howler monkeys in the wild, watched a stunning 40-minute fireworks show over the water for New Year’s Eve, stood atop ancient Mayan temples nearly alone in a jungle rainstorm, felt the soft, wet, puppy-like nuzzle of a rescued tapir on my hand and made creativity wishes on the full moon shining daylight-bright in the middle of the night. There may not have been a lot of crochet but there was a lot of healing and magic.

belize

Author

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

11 Comments

  1. What a lovely trip! And would you believe – theres a tiny tiny shop selling plastic crap in Hartenbos, an over-commercialised – but having a lovely beach – little settlement alongs the garden Route of South Africa…and they stock those worry balls and little coin purses!

  2. Thanks for sharing your holiday experiences and photos! It so nice – and recognizable… – to be yarn & crochet hunting while on holiday. ;-)

  3. Ooh, I love that mosaic of the water and the yarn. So beautiful! It looks like you had a wonderful trip!

  4. Jodiebodie Reply

    Great to see you having such a marvellous time. I hope you return home refreshed and energised. xx

  5. Lovely story, travelling and learning about other cultures is awesome.
    Jamaicans knit and crochet. The kids learn it in school, but they mostly learn to needlecraft. Its quite difficult to get yarns in the Caribbean, unless they have relatives abroad who can send it to them. Sewing clothes is more prominent, due to the school uniforms required for the kids. I am sure in the larger towns/Cities they may have some wool.
    However in Cuba crocheting is big business. You see it everywhere. Mostly dresses of all types or made into bags for the ladies. I was quite impressed by the skill of some of the crafters. I brought some home and gave them as gifts to my family and friends here in the UK.
    It could well be that some of the stuff sold on the other islands comes from Cuba? The can pulls get made into belts, hats, toys etc. I have seen those in jamaica as well, But Cuba had better pieces, higher quality pieces.
    Some items are made in China however, mass produced by hand.

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing! I didn’t know anything at all about crochet in Cuba and will definitely do some more research now. I did know about Jamaican crochet but not that they teach it in school, which I think is super awesome. It has so many benefits for kids (developing motor skills, practicing counting, relaxation, creative expression). And yes, it’s important to remember that some items may be imported from other places like China and when purchasing items it’s good to see if you can get the back story so that you are supporting fair trade crochet and labor practices where possible.

    • Hello Daniela. I am a Jamaican in my early twenties and I had to teach myself how to crochet using a book. I was never taught needlecraft in school and I don’t know of many schools that do. Those that do may teach it if they have very active 4-H clubs or a club similar to that. I remember that I had regrets that my parents didn’t send me to a particular primary school close to mine because they taught the girls how to crochet and do embroidery. Children who learn to sew clothes in high school do a subject called Clothing and Textiles and it seems as if not many children want to do that subject. I wanted to, but my high school’s Clothing and Textiles room was very unkempt, which said to me that my school didn’t put much effort into teaching it.

      It’s not too hard to find people crochet or knit. Crocheting is more common and sometimes you’ll see vendors crocheting on the roadside. Crochet thread can be more easily found than yarn. They can be very expensive in stores , but there is a man in downtown Kingston that sells a wide variety of yarn sizes at reasonable prices from his van. Wholesales sell crochet thread reasonably too, but they hardly carry yarn. If you see a Woolworth’s in your travels, you’ll find yarn, but at high prices.

      • Oh, and Jamaican’s usually refer to yarn as “wool”, even though most often than not it’s acrylic yarn and not wool. I get strange looks from people when asking for yarn, lol!

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