Jonah Larson taught himself to crochet when he was 5 years old. Now, 11, the self-proclaimed “crochet prodigy” boasts an impressive social media following out of his home in Wisconsin, with 187,000 followers on Instagram and 37,000 subscribers on YouTube.
“I see crochet as a positive way to bring the world together and it's just a craft that everybody comes together and enjoys,” he told the 3rd hour of TODAY.
Jonah posts tutorials and photos of his creations, including floral blankets, hats, and sweaters that he sells through his business, Jonah's Hands, on social media. His success has been so tremendous that he has recently stopped selling. "We've had 4,500 orders, so we had to close down shop for a little while," he said.
But Jonah still participates in business collaborations and regularly donates his work and proceeds from sales to Roots Ethiopia, an organization that benefits the region where he was born and the orphanage where he lived before his family, the Larsons, adopted him at 5 months old.
Jonah's parents were told he may have developmental delays, but he defied the odds and proved that he was able to grasp difficult concepts at an early age.
He was 5 when he first spotted a crochet hook and asked his mom what it was. Jonah's mother, Jennifer Larson, doesn’t crochet, but explained the craft to him and told him her grandmother had been a very talented crocheter. Jonah began watching YouTube tutorials and within an hour had made a dishcloth.
She figured he’d lose interest in the craft, but he continued to develop his new-found passion by watching advanced videos and experimenting with new stitches. By age 7 he was creating entire blankets.
Larson believes crochet helped her son overcome some discipline issues at school.
Before crochet, he acted out in class from boredom and distracted others. Larson was getting calls from the school two or three times a week. Then, his teacher suggested he bring his crochet to class and the phone calls stopped.
Crochet calmed his mind, she said, and "is medicinal in some ways."
Now, the skilled sixth grader teachers his friends and followers how to crochet and even creates his own designs. He can speed-crochet an entire hat in as little as 46 minutes.
Crocheting has even become a family affair: His older brother Leif, 15, manages his social media and his younger sister Mercy, 9 (also adopted from Ethiopia), is his yarn winder.
As for the future, Jonah doesn't seem to be slowing down. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Jonah told TODAY's Craig Melvin, "I would like to be able to be a surgeon and be able to go back to Ethiopia and give out some free surgeries."
He certainly has the hands and the heart for that.
Jonah's autobiography, “Hello Crochet Friends,” comes out on July 21.