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UCLA students showcase knitting creations on Instagram, hope to inspire others

Fourth-year students Jane Ni and Ruby Ciervo created the Instagram account @hotgirlsknit after discovering a passion for fiber arts during quarantine. The two aim to use their platform to destigmatize the craft, and share slow fashion through knitting. (Courtesy of Jane Ni)

By Paula Preda

July 2, 2021 2:51 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Sara Jahangiri’s name.

This post was updated July 5 at 7:38 p.m.

Jane Ni and Ruby Ciervo are unraveling art stereotypes.

Out of all the creative ways the two students could have expressed themselves during the pandemic, fourth-year human biology and society student Jane Ni and fourth-year civil and environmental engineering student Ruby Ciervo landed on knitting. What began as trying out a simple pattern for fun soon became the two students’ preferred way of passing time and breaking up the monotony of online school. Since discovering their love for fiber arts, Ni said they have created a plethora of clothing items and launched an Instagram account to showcase their creations and inspire others.

“You’re starting with that ball of yarn, and it turns into something that you can wear or a friend can wear, and it means a lot and it took a lot of time,” Ciervo said. “There’s a lot of love in that.”

Ni said she learned how to knit when she was very young but got back into it when she began seeing knitting videos on TikTok. As for Ciervo, she said she began knitting at Ni’s prompting and was soon ordering yarn and trading patterns alongside her friend. The idea for starting a joint online platform came from seeing others on social media sharing their creations, Ni said.

“Both of us kind of wanted to have an Instagram or something just to keep track of what we had made and be able to show our friends that don’t live near us,” Ciervo said.

[Related: Business is blooming for alumna’s personalized flower balloon company]

Ni said the account name, @hotgirlsknit, was inspired by Megan Thee Stallion and her popularization of the term “hot girl” in her recent music. The account also conveys that knitting isn’t only for grandmas, Ni said. Aside from dismantling this stigma, she said the account also provides a creative outlet for her and Ciervo. The main reason the two students enjoy knitting shares a common thread – they both enjoy the mindless and methodical nature of the activity, Ni said.

“Especially for me, I’ve been really anxious because it’s been quarantine. So it’s just really grounding, and it’s nice to be able to make stuff again,” Ni said. “Also, it’s nice because knitting a lot of the time is just doing the same thing over and over, so it’s really methodical. So you can do it during meetings or during classes which makes Zooms more entertaining.”

For Ciervo, the practicality of knitting is another enticing factor, as she and Ni only create clothing items they will wear and try to post clothes they have worn multiple times. She said she was always interested in fashion when she was younger, and her knitting hobby has allowed her to design clothes on a small scale. In addition to creating clothing for herself, she said she has made pieces as gifts for her friends.

Ni said her and Ciervo’s friends and community have responded positively to the account. Their former roommate, alumnus Sara Jahangiri, said the way the two students brand themselves stays true to their down-to-earth personalities and has encouraged creativity in other Bruins and organizations on campus.

“Because both of them are so involved (on campus) … it’s definitely something that they’ve brought to those organizations,” Jahangiri said. “Now that they’ll be in person, they will have a greater opportunity to introduce other people to (knitting) and maybe make it a part of socials and preexisting events.”

In addition to employing knitting as a social icebreaker, Jahangiri said her friends are interested in sustainability on campus, which helps the craft align more with their values. She said she views their knitting hobby as a positive contribution to the slow-fashion movement. Seeing Ciervo and Ni knitting clothes that express their senses of style has made her realize that knitting is not restricted to blankets and sweaters, Jahangiri said.

(Courtesy of Jane Ni)
Matching sweater vests knitted by Ni and Ciervo. (Courtesy of Jane Ni)
(Courtesy of Jane Ni)
Ciervo modeling her mixed-stitch halter top. (Courtesy of Jane Ni)

[Related: Student launches sustainable jewelry business using repurposed materials]

Although Ni and Ciervo decided to post their projects online, Ni said they want to enjoy knitting as a personal hobby and do not want their passion to change as a result of social media. For Ciervo, creating the account has not changed her relationship with the art form. Ni said they are not putting pressure on themselves to change the account at the expense of their enjoyment.

“We’re kind of not a super aesthetic account,” Ni said. “It was important for us in creating the account, it didn’t become a pressure about wanting to make an Instagram look nice.”

Ciervo said they also do not currently plan on selling any of their creations but will happily help anyone with pattern questions or send notes on their designs. She said the two of them received ample support from other knitting accounts when they were getting started, so they hope to relay this generosity.

“It’s just cool to see so many people creating things that are literally out of string that people can wear,” Ciervo said. “It’s beautiful – I love it.”

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Paula Preda
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