Matthew Yanachik taught himself how to crochet during the pandemic. He perfected his craft by learning to read while crocheting. PHOTOS MELISSA YANACHIK

When COVID-19 first showed up and everything began to close, kids all of a sudden had a lot of free time on their hands. No school. No sports. No play dates with friends. They were stuck at home with no plans.

While many children spent that free time playing video games and watching TV, 13-year-old Matthew Yanachik of Bluffton taught himself to crochet.

Matthew’s father had brought home a book on how to crochet Harry Potter characters just before everything shut down. The book came with the supplies to make two characters, Dobby and Harry.

“No one in the family knew how to crochet, but my dad thought I would like it,” Matthew said. “I had no idea what crochet was.”

Matthew said the book wasn’t helpful so he watched videos to teach himself the craft.

“It was easy but hard-ish,” he said. “Now it keeps me busy for hours and annoys the heck out of my brothers.”

Matthew’s brothers – one older and one younger – want him to play with them, but he would rather read a book and crochet all day. Yes, he can do both at the same time.

Matthew’s first completed crochet project was Hedwig from the Harry Potter series of books. Since then, he has crocheted hundreds of items, including several other Harry Potter characters, as well as Pokémon, Angry Birds, Star Wars and Care Bears characters.

He has made several items as gifts for family members – Pokémon characters for his brothers, a nutcracker for his dad and a flower for his mom. He even came up with his own pattern so he could make a Pokéball.

When Matthew realized he could make money with his new hobby, he started making items to sell. His goal was to make enough money to buy a Kindle.

He named his business Matthew’s Masterpieces and began crocheting reusable water balloons, which he sold at craft shows over the summer. He made enough money to buy a Kindle. Then he started making pot scrubbers, which were a big hit for holiday gifts.

Since Matthew’s mom, Melissa Yanachik, sews for a living, she knew where he could sell his creations. Yanachik sells her dog collars and leashes at craft shows and at Beaufort Emporium & Dry Goods in downtown Beaufort.

In January, Matthew started crocheting cat toys and filling them with catnip. After the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, where Sen. Bernie Sanders made his meme-worthy appearance, Matthew was asked to crochet a miniature Bernie wearing mittens and a mask.

His mother found a pattern, and Matthew got to work. Word quickly spread, and Matthew was asked to make five more Bernies.

While the Bernies aren’t one of Matthew’s regular creations, he will continue to take custom orders. His cat toys and pot scrubbers can be found at Beaufort Emporium and will be on sale at a craft show planned for May 29-30 on Fripp Island.

For more information or to purchase something from Matthew’s Masterpieces, email his mother at mrs.myanachik@gmail.com.

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.