Hazar Jawabra’s designs are a knitwear fairy tale, a Where the Wild Things Are–style translation of unrestrained, blindingly colorful stitches. In one image from a look book, a man, swimming in a kaleidoscope of crochet, poses in an old Palestinian home that has been turned into a hostel. It’s almost as if he resembles a tree of yarn with bits of fabric branching out and growing from him: The tunic top boasts voluminous sleeves of reds, yellows, and oranges with the bottom of the garment reaching his knees. His face is covered by a mask of yarn, and in lieu of a beard, there are beaded strings hanging from his chin. In another image, a man wears a full look made of knit tubes in red, blue, orange, and fuchsia. If you look quickly, it appears as if a candle has melted and its wax has streamed down his body.

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Jawabra, 23, who is Palestinian and is originally from the town of Umm El Fahem (near Haifa, Israel) and now resides in Jerusalem, was trained by her grandmother who used traditional Palestinian imagery in her designs. “I’ve worked with knitting as a traditional technique,” she tells Vogue. “Knitting in my family has been a lifelong tradition that passes from one generation to another.” Eventually, Jawabra enrolled in Jerusalem’s Bezalel College of Arts and Design, where she took knitting courses and recently graduated. “I loved it because it reminded me of home. Knitting is a tradition that passes from one generation to another in my family,” she says. “My decision was also affected by knowing that handmade crafts are slowly declining, but I wanted to revive it and initiate it once again in my work.” In some pieces, Jawabra uses her grandmother’s patterns, or imagery from a kaffiyeh, a traditional Arabic headgear worn by men.

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Many of Jawabra’s creations deal with the tension between her self-concept and the pressure she feels from society to be someone else: to follow a traditional path of getting married or choosing the “right career.” In her work, this is often reflected through a dichotomy of flexible silhouettes with added unwavering chaotic effects, like an orange sweater with knee-grazing arms and an affixed set of tightly knit pom-poms on the chest. Additionally, Jawabra incorporates masks into her designs—which allows her to project “the joy, positive energy, and inner beauty” that people are sometimes afraid to show in their facial expressions.

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For Jawabra, there is typically no planning involved when it comes to knitting. She does not sketch beforehand and knits in a vivid, stream-of-consciousness style that results in unexpected forms. Jawabra’s collection could be considered unisex but she calls it menswear—for a specific reason. “It is a men’s collection so [I] can prove to my society that men can also dress colorfully,” she says, “And that men must not fear if a woman attempts to dress and style them.” So far, her collection has traveled far beyond Palestine and, most recently, landed her in a university student competition in Qingdao, China, which she won. Jawabra hopes her designs can convey the experience of being Palestinian in a new way—that they can capture a feeling “that I can’t say in words so I am knitting it.”

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