Teen crochet prodigy wows with stunning creations and uses incredible skills to raise funds for his Ethiopian birthplace.

It’s always inspiring to see young people using their abilities to help others. Jonah Larson of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a crochet prodigy whose amazing crochet pieces and unique designs feature prominently in his philanthropic work for his birthplace of Ethiopia. Aside from helping his community, his crochet work has received numerous awards, and his story has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and TV talk shows.

Aged 7, Jonah falls in line with his siblings to give their mom flowers on Mother's Day

Jonah was born in Durame, Ethiopia, and was adopted as an infant by Jennifer and Christopher Larson, who also have a son, Leif, and a daughter, Mercy. Jonah, now 15, first picked up a pair of hooks at the age of five and taught himself to crochet using a simple tutorial. He began with a simple dish towel and progressed to making hats and scarves. But then he started winning county fair ribbons, and by the age of six, the crochet prodigy was beating the grandmothers he was competing against.

Jonah began pushing himself to create more complex designs, which became the foundation of his popular and thriving business. Jonah was probably first noticed as the boy who could crochet, but he is much more than that. Jonah, in addition to being a crochet prodigy, is a published author, having written his first book “Hello, Crochet Friends!” at the age of 11. At the age of 12, he published his second book, “Giving Back Crochet,” in June 2020.

The crochet prodigy also made unique items with his crochet-loving grandmother.

He founded Jonah’s Hands, LLC at the age of 11 and has his own website where he posts his various projects as well as tutorials so that others can learn to crochet. Jonah is also a math genius, as if that wasn’t enough. He also enjoys basketball and playing video games on occasion. Blankets, headbands, dog coats, baskets, baby booties, mermaid tail blankets, and afghans are now among Jonah’s stunning creations.

His most difficult project was an afghan with 800 flowers made with a puff stitch. What initially drew this crochet prodigy to the craft? “Crocheting calms him,” his mother Jennifer says. “Normally, his mind is very active, but he’s crocheting.” His contagious enthusiasm and dedication to giving back have earned him a global following. Jennifer stated that Jonah’s popularity stems primarily from crocheting message boards, and that the crochet community has been extremely supportive of her son.

He rose to prominence as an 11-year-old in 2019 after being featured on the cover of the La Crosse Tribune, and people were instantly taken with the then-precocious pre-speed teen’s crocheting abilities. Since then, he has appeared in hundreds of articles in publications such as the New York Times, The Times of London, Forbes, Oprah Magazine, People, USA Today, and many others.

Jonah designed this pink afghan for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

He’s also appeared on the Today Show, Little Big Shots with Melissa McCarthy, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Drew Barrymore Show, and Pickler & Ben. His fame has also spread to social media, where he now has 393,000 Instagram followers and 258,000 Facebook fans. Jonah became friends with actress Drew Barrymore and was introduced as a child correspondent on her talk show in 2020. On the show, Jonah highlights noteworthy projects, interviews celebrities, and teaches people how to crochet.

He also does his segment while crocheting and will frequently complete a piece by the end of the show, such as a blanket, scarf, and beanie! But, of all his accomplishments at such a young age, the crochet prodigy is most proud of his charitable work for his hometown. Sales of his award-winning crochet pieces support his projects, such as Ethiopia’s Jonah’s Hands Library, which now serves over 2,000 students.

Jonah is wearing a beautiful zigzag shawl.

Jonah learned to read at the age of three and wanted to share his passion for books in the village, where most children lack access to books and stories. Jonah and Jonah’s Library partner Roots Ethiopia also raised funds to complete Jonah’s Hands-on Science Lab at Teza Gerba School. Following these two major projects, Jonah is now determined to construct restrooms for the school. “The latrine project I’m currently raising funds for is more expensive than the science lab or library that I’ve already built,” he explained.

It’s more complicated because, for example, plumbing is involved.” Jonah learned to read at the age of three and wanted to share his passion for books in the village, where most children lack access to books and stories. Jonah and Jonah’s Library partner Roots Ethiopia also raised funds to complete Jonah’s Hands-on Science Lab at Teza Gerba School. Following these two major projects, Jonah is now determined to construct restrooms for the school. “The latrine project I’m currently raising funds for is more expensive than the science lab or library that I’ve already built,” he explained. It’s more complicated because, for example, plumbing is involved.”

The Teza Throw is named for the Teza Gerba School near Jonah's birthplace in Ethiopia.

Jonah raised funds for the project by auctioning off some of his crochet creations, and his friend Drew Barrymore also contributed $5,500. Donations for the bathroom project can be made through the crochet prodigy’s website or GoFundMe page. Jonah, who is still in his teens, is an inspiration to many because of his crocheting skills and dedication to helping his Ethiopian home. He also uses his platform to advocate for inclusivity.

Jonah poses with a green cowl.

Jennifer was initially concerned about what other children at his son’s school might think about Jonah’s crocheting passion, but “he couldn’t care less what people said.” The crochet prodigy stays busy with his crocheting and charitable projects, but he hopes to return to his village in Ethiopia in the future to see firsthand the results of his charitable efforts. He also hopes to inspire others to take up crocheting, saying, “I hope they will pull out their hooks and keep this art going into the next generation.”

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