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Meet Alexandria Masse: A Canadian crochetier whose ‘wearable art’ is going viral

Alexandria Masse is a textile artist living in Halifax, N.S. Instagram / Alexandria Masse

A Nova Scotian textile artist is making waves online with her colourful, wearable pieces.

Alexandria Masse, originally from Windsor, Ont., has had an “overwhelming” rise in social media popularity over the past six months.

The 21-year-old artist specializes in funky crocheted headpieces and balaclavas.

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She says the things that inspire her are “grandma motifs,” bunnies and childhood memories.

“I utilize a lot of practices like knit, crochet and sewing and quilting that are very much associated with grandmas,” Masse said.

“But colour-wise, I absolutely love colour. If I can choose the most extravagant colour, then I’ll do that.”

Going viral

Around this time last year, Masse had about 1,000 Instagram followers and was still figuring out her niche.

With much of the world spending more time at home and looking for hobbies, crocheting and knitting content had gained momentum on social media.

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Having this talent and skill, Masse first posted a video of her creating a cardigan to her TikTok account in January 2021. That video now has nearly 110,000 views, but it was just the start.

@alexandriamasse

Just finished a new cardi :) #crochet #crocheting #knit #sweater #cardi #cardigan

♬ Zanzibar – Billy Joel

Her presence became known around August when she started creating the unique headpieces. But Masse credits her rise in popularity to one piece: the pink bunny balaclava.

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“That got super, super popular, which was an absolute surprise,” she said.

After she first posted that piece in October, Masse hit 10,000 followers on Instagram.

She now has more than 47,000 on Instagram, and more than 119,000 on TikTok, where her videos accumulated 3.2 million likes.

“It has been really fast and overwhelming,” she said.

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But to Masse, it’s not about the followers. She had always been creative.

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Her mother taught her to knit when she was about seven years old.

“From there, I always had a project on the go, and then I taught myself how to crochet when I got a bit older.”

Masse said she has always taken inspiration from real things in her life. The bunny balaclava was inspired by her two pet rabbits.

“I was like looking at my bunnies and thinking, ‘Oh, you guys are so cute. How do how can I express this in a different way?'”

She said as she was piecing it together and added the ears, she thought: “This is it; this is what it’s meant to be.”

Since then, she’s made different versions of the bunny balaclava.

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“There’s a lot of people looking at what I’m creating right now, but at the same time, it makes me really happy to see and to know that so many other people are interested in wearable art the same way I am.”

Where art meets fashion

Studying fashion textiles at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Masse is set to graduate this year.

“I’ll be able to make as many headpieces as I want to,” she said.

“I’d love to have the opportunity to just do this full time and to keep making weird pieces and sharing them on the internet.”

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While her trending work may be recognized online as a fashion trend, Masse said she doesn’t have an interest in going into that industry.

“I would consider myself an artist,” she said.

“When I create a piece, I don’t have the intentions of reproducing it the same way things are done in the fashion industry.”

She classifies her work as “wearable art,” where art and fashion meet.

“It doesn’t need to have a utilitarian purpose for it to be considered fashion, and art can be on the body too,” she said.

Her biggest recent project, however, isn’t wearable at all. Instead, it’s a 13-metre crocheted centipede.

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Alexandria Masse's crocheted centipede sculpture is seen exhibited at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, N.S. Alexandria Masse
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The centipede was named “Ha-ha,” a combination of both of her grandparents’ names.

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It has more than 100 legs and is completely made of crocheted, hand-dyed material. The centipede also has 16 crocheted eggs.

“I wanted noto create something that just immerses you in the space, and interacts with the space,” Masse said.  “It’s just a really fun object.”

As a part of Masse’s undergraduate solo exhibition, the soft sculpture took four months to make.

“Oh gosh, I can’t even put how many hours I spent on it because it was so many weekends, so many nights,” she said, “just slowly making her larger and larger.”

Her work is exhibited this week at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax.

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Though the centipede also gained some traction on her social media, Masse said she tries to not pay attention to likes and followers.

“I’m so focused on like, ‘Oh, I should create this; I should create that.’ And if it gets attention and people like it, that’s super great.

“But the bottom line is, I love creating things for myself.”

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