Crochet designer Alessandra Hayden crocheted for 34 hours and 7 minutes to set a new world record for longest marathon crochet session.
Crochet designer Alessandra Hayden has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest marathon crochet session. On May 30, 2021, Hayden, a resident of Gig Harbor, Washington, crocheted for 34 hours and 7 minutes, beating the previous record of 28 hours and five minutes set by two women in 2020. For Hayden, being a record-holder fulfills a lifelong dream.
Growing up in Brazil, in Marilia, Sao Paolo, she learned to crochet when she was 9-years-old from her paternal grandmother. Hayden’s mother had passed away and she spent long stretches of her childhood with her grandmother, who was disabled. “She was really crafty, and she wanted to keep me busy, so we did a lot of crafts, things we could do while sitting,” she says. Hayden learned to crochet with silk thread and a tiny hook. “If I could learn with that, I feel like I can do anything,” she says.
In high school, Hayden crocheted skirts and tops for herself and her friends. She also took English lessons and it was in the lobby of the English school that the idea of becoming a world record-holder was planted.
“They had books like Where’s Waldo, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and the Guinness Book of World Records,” she says. “I would always flip through them and say to myself, ‘One day I’m going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Once planted, the idea stayed with her for decades to come.
She went on to study social communications and marketing in college and then came to the US as an exchange student, taking classes at the University of Washington and living with an American family. After getting and then pregnant with her first child, the desire to crochet returned. “I was nesting,” she says. In 2008, Hayden began sharing her work online and started publishing patterns in response to her audience’s demand. When Etsy featured her crochet pattern shop on the marketplace’s front page, her design business took off.
The actual hours spent crocheting were like a celebration, albeit a non-stop one that lasted over two days.
Hayden’s library of crochet designs is vast and varied, from amigurumi to home décor items to clothing, but she says blankets and hats are her favorite items to make.
Still, the idea of becoming a world record holder lingered in her mind. In 2005 she set up an account on the Guinness Book of World Records website to browse for potential ideas.
“I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me,” she said.
And she wanted something that wouldn’t take up too much time or take her away from her two kids.
Finally, she landed on idea: the record for Most People Wearing a Hat with a Pompom. Hayden got to work crocheting 500 pompomed hats over a six-month period. Then, she realized that to set the world record the hats didn’t need to be handmade. “The current record was for 18,000 hats,” she said, “I can’t make that in my lifetime.” She still has the hats she made for this failed attempt in a box in her closet and hopes to donate them at some point to charity.
This defeat didn’t get Hayden down, though. “I thought I’m just going to keep looking. I can do something. I just need to be patient.” Typing “crochet” in the search bar on the Guinness site, she finally landed on the right record: the world’s longest marathon crochet session. It was currently held by two women who set it in 2020 at 28 hours and five minutes. Hayden knew she could go longer than that.
Hayden chose a blanket and a shawl for her record-setting project.
For the record-setting project, she chose to make a blanket and a shawl using her favorite technique: tapestry crochet (a technique that involves working with two strands of yarn, going in one direction with one, and back in the other direction with the other). “It’s simple enough where I don’t have to think because I figured, at some point, if I have to be counting the stitches too much, I’m going to be making mistakes,” she says. She used Lion Brand yarn for the blanket, and Berroco for the shawl, buying more yarn then she could possibly use, and was able to finish both projects during her record-setting 34 hour 7 minute crochet marathon.
The actual hours spent crocheting were like a celebration she says, albeit a non-stop one that lasted over two days. “My kids [ages 9 and 11] knew that I couldn’t get up, and that they had to be good. I was like, please don’t interrupt. You can’t have any bickering and you can’t have friends over.”
Per the Guinness Book of World Records guidelines, she had to have two witnesses at all times, and they couldn’t be related to her or to each other. Witnesses took four hour shifts. The entire crochet marathon had to be recorded from multiple views which required Hayden to invest in new video cameras. After each hour of crocheting, she was allowed five minutes of rest. She used this time to both eat and dance to relieve muscle cramps.
At 34 hours and seven minutes, Hayden decided she’d had enough. “I had my last shift of friends here as witnesses. My goal was 30 hours and I was like, I have to go for at least 34. My friends had brought confetti and they were full of energy so that gave me a boost.” After two hours with this last group of witnesses, she decided it was time to stop so she could eat a real meal.
“They threw the confetti and I just wanted to walk, and drink water. It’s not fun to eat while dancing in five minute spurts.”
She describes the feeling of completing the longest marathon crochet session in the world as being similar to jetlag. After a hardy restaurant meal, she says she slept for 12 hours.
After each hour of crocheting, Hayden was allowed five minutes of rest.
So what does it cost to try to become a world-record holder? $5, but according to Hayden if you just pay the minimal fee, it could take months or even years for the committee to get back to you. She paid $800 to expedite her application and an additional $600 for the committee to answer her questions in a timely manner. Still, it took a month for the committee to review her application.
The paperwork to submit her record was a marathon in itself, one that Hayden says rivaled the effort she put into crocheting. There were 34 hours of footage on each camera, and 40 videos in total to upload, plus all of the paperwork from the witnesses and a sheet of questions for her to answer as well. Altogether, it took three days to upload everything to the Guinness Book of World Records site.
Holding a world record in crochet has helped reinvigorate Hayden’s design work. After writing her book, Modern Tapestry Crochet: Techniques, Projects, and Adventures, in 2017 she had been feeling burned out, but now she says she’s full of new ideas.
Hayden doesn’t plan to try to uphold her record should someone decide to try to beat it.
“It was my dream to get there. I feel like it’s there for anybody to take. It’s their chance to have fun. I had my experience,” she says.
And it was a good one.
“I had fun. I chatted with different friends the whole time. I just loved it,” she says. “It’s like a race day. You forget about all the hard work to prepare and just have fun.” Hayden says her father, who still lives in Brazil, is incredibly proud. It was his mother that taught her to crochet, after all. “He can go on the website and show other people. He’s so proud of me.”
Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.