More than a mere hobby

More than a mere hobby

success story

More than a mere hobby

She was just 14 when she first held knitting needles in her hand. That was a gift from a mother to a daughter. But little did this teenage daughter know that these knitting needles would change the lives of hundreds of women in future. Asha, a high school student then, entered the world of wool by learning to knit a baby frock with a few friends in Kolhapur in Maharashtra. A quick learner, she could create beautiful woollen wear without any formal training. Though her father was against this newly-developed hobby, she nurtured her passion for knitting with the support of her mother and brother.

In 1989, she came to Belagavi with her husband and aspired to turn her hobby into a profession. Encouraged by her friends, she began selling her knitwear products like sweaters and frocks and helped out her husband financially. She also began teaching knitting to women at a nominal fee. After this, she got together with a few women and started a firm called ‘Asha Knitwears’ in her home in Tilakwadi in Belagavi. The firm provided a platform for women to improve their livelihoods.

Though Asha Patravali has studied only up to ninth standard, her crafting skills far exceeded her education. Recalls Asha, “Earlier, I used to feel ashamed to tell people about my educational qualification. Since I didn’t know English, many used to look down upon me. But now, I have realised that an academic degree is not necessary for achieving greater heights. I have  made many women financially independent by passing on my skill and I feel happy about it.”

Powering throughToday, Asha, a self-motivated woman in her fifties, takes pride in having made nearly 3,500 sweater designs, baby sets, different types of pillows and more than 300 types of knitted ladies shirts. She has also made unique woollen toys which has a huge demand in countries like USA, Australia and Dubai. She has created numerous them-based toys and has scripted many records. She has knitted 23 types of Angry Birds, caterpillars, penguins and much more. She holds the national record (Limca Book of Records) for her sweaters and ladies shirts and has a world record of making the most number of objects using knitting materials (3,500 dolls were taken into consideration). She has even penned six books with detailed descriptions on the knitting methods.Passionate to achieve something extraordinary in life, Asha, as apt as her name is, has given hope to many women. She has trained more than 4,000 people, a majority of whom are women, in knitting. She encourages young girls to earn while they learn and does not charge fee from those who cannot afford it. 

Relying mainly on word-of-mouth marketing, she also organises exhibitions where she sells her products and also provides a channel for her students to market their products. Her firm with 15 full-time women contributors sells its products at national and international platforms. She also assigns hand-knitting work to other women. These women complete knitting job at home and bring the half-done pieces to Asha, who then gives finishing touches.  

She has also conducted various skill development workshops for women in Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. She has a collection of over 200 books on knitwear from across the world. She gets information about latest trends in the designing world through publications and Internet. “I have achieved this in spite of all odds I have faced in life, including financial constraints,” says a confident Asha. Presently, she is working on knitting a variety of socks for kids. Woollen fashion jewellery is another area she plans to focus on.

Rohini Ghadi, one of her students, says “I am learning this art for the past eight months. I have already started earning and it helps improve the financial condition of the family, while boosting my confidence.” Asha says, “People have also been self-trained by referring to my easy-to-understand books and some of them have been able to repay their loans by selling such products.”

Asha Patravali can be contacted at twoneedles2002@yahoo.co.in.

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