I must make a confession. I love to crochet. No big surprise right? But you may be surprised why. Crochet for me not only gives me a chance to keep busy and express my creativity, but it is also a great source of comfort to me. Both my mother and grandmother crocheted so when I pick up a hook and yarn I feel a connection to them across time.
Not my grama, but isn’t she sweet?
If I may get a bit personal, back in 2011 my husband died suddenly. He was a long distance truck driver and was stopped (thank goodness) and delivering a load. Once his load was done the couldn’t get him to answer his CB and found him in his truck unresponsive.
The doctors weren’t sure if he had a stroke or a heart attack. After a bunch of tests, it was determined he had profound brain stem damage. Two days after they called me to tell me he had been transported to the ER my children, his mother, and myself made the decision to stop life support. He passed away quickly and peacefully, and my life forever changed.
I had been crocheting quite a bit before he passed, but now I just couldn’t pick up my hook. That lasted for a few months and after my mom’s coaxing I picked it up again and found it quite soothing. My mom had major health issues and passed away later in the same year.
Prayer and crochet saved me from slipping into a bad depression and the repetitive motions helped keep me centered and mindful. I found being mindful of the present, counting stitches, following patterns, helped me focus and give me a break from my grief. I never really understood what term “mindful” meant before. To me, it means being in the moment, enjoying what is going on right now, and not looking toward the future or back in the past.
There are several books and websites dedicated to mindfulness. Truthfully, I thought it was all a bunch of hooey, but now that I understand it more and how to incorporate it into my life, I find it is a powerful tool to stay centered and in the now. Crochet forces me to pay attention to what I am doing, especially if I’m following a pattern.
Crochet as Therapy
Crochet is a popular occupational therapy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the work that occupational therapists do as treating “patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.” Recent studies have shown a correlation between yarn arts such as crochet and knitting and depression. Other studies have also shown that crochet also benefits seniors who show early signs of dementia.
Crochet gives people who are having difficulty performing everyday tasks a chance to go at their own rate and do what they can with a tangible product of their efforts. Crochet and knitting are also stress relievers and beneficial to people of all ages. Crochet also helps people who have problems with fine motor skills a chance to work on their skills in an enjoyable manner.
Sara Gormley, OTS, writing for StuNurse Magazine, says,
“Crafts are an appropriate medium across the lifespan from toddlers stringing cereal necklaces to the elderly crocheting pot holders. Settings appropriate for use to assess or treat disability include, but are not limited to: early intervention programs, school-based settings, mental health and rehabilitation, hospitals and nursing homes.”
Crochet releases the feel-good hormone dopamine. This is the hormone responsible for a feeling of well being and happiness. It is the same hormone your brain releases from eating chocolate or having a glass of wine.
- Crochet reduces anxiety
- Yarn arts reduce depression
- Completing projects builds self-esteem
- Crafting may postpone or reduce dementia
- Crochet and knitting help people deal with insomnia
- Reduces restlessness or irritability
- Praying while crocheting
- Builds community through connecting with other crocheters
- Crocheting helps with processing grief
- Yarn arts help with stress relief
How I Got Started Crocheting
Now I like to crochet because it still gives me a connection with my mom and grandma. I like the challenge of a new pattern, and I’ve gotten to where I also enjoy designing my own patterns. My grandmother could crochet thread into intricate borders for her embroidery scarves. That is what really made me interested in crochet.
Cotton thread doilies
I wanted to be able to take a thin cotton thread and create the beautiful crochet borders and doilies she made. I remember sitting and watching her for hours as a child as her fingers worked the crochet hook and thread. It just fascinated me how creative she was. She used no patterns, she just knew the stitches to use to create what she wanted.
My grandmother and mother had crochet hooks and yarn to spare so they set me up with some and taught me the basics. I learned how to crochet the basic stitches and had fun trying to make scarves and little items. Later, when I had kids I put my crochet up for years and once my kids was out on their own I picked it up again and have been crocheting ever since. Like I said earlier, crochet did save my sanity, and now that I’m disabled it gives me something to do and connect with others who enjoy the craft.
A Brief Survey of My Facebook Friends
I belong to several crochet pages on Facebook. This helps me connect with others who enjoy the craft. The pages are also a chance to see projects and find patterns I may want to try. I also enjoy posting my own patterns and get feedback from the members. If you want to check the pages out just do a search on Facebook for crochet. There are several pages you can join and connect with fellow crafters.
100% Acrylic Art Guards by Agata Olek / Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009
I asked my friend on my Facebook feed to share their reasons they crochet. Here is what they said:
Doris: When you’re on crutches you’ll do anything to relieve the tedium of waiting for months and months. Even crochet!!! And learn how to weave your hair by yourself. And learn how to play pool on one foot.
Deb: I’m not very good at it. I learned a little when I was a kid, they never did it for years. I have done more recently. It helps when you’re quitting smoking! and that’s definitely a “hard time” in life, especially when you’re recovering from heart attacks (which is why I quit). I would like to learn more.
Missie: I learn in middle school, from my grandma and mom. I make a lot of blankets for a wedding shower and baby gifts. It helps me unwind after a long day at work.
Taryn: My mom crocheted, mostly Afghans and lace edgings, and she could knit like no one’s business. Well, of course, I wanted to be like Mom and make pretty things, but as hard as she tried, I never got past the chain stitch (and we won’t even discuss how badly the hand knitting went LOL). Then when I started high school, I was in the choir with a senior girl who stayed over one night and taught me how to do single crochet, but she failed to show me how to deal with the end of the row, so I made a lot of tiny baskets at first. LOL
I crochet because it’s a connection to my mom and my great-aunt. I crochet because it’s a way to be creative without spending a lot of money, and I like that it gives me another way to make one-of-a-kind gifts for people. It’s also something to do during long tv things, like the pro wrestling events I enjoy watching but need something to focus on when the bookers make bad decisions. 😉 I also enjoy the challenge of new stitches and techniques. Plus I inherited my mom’s stash and since the knitting machines aren’t currently set up… I think it gives Dad hope that the yarn won’t take over the house. LOL
During the hard times, I can’t make myself crochet, so it hasn’t been much help in that direction.
Those are just a few of the responses I got from my friends. What I gleaned from their answers is that crochet has been a help in working through tough times in their lives. It is amazing to me that simple craft can bring so much comfort and enjoyment to so many people.
Is it the simplicity or crochet or the feeling of getting lost in a pattern that is so soothing? I think it is different for everyone. I know some of my friends enjoy the repetition of the stitches. Others enjoy exploring new patterns and the feeling of accomplishment they get when they master it.
What is Your Story?
So, what does crochet mean to you? Is it just an enjoyable craft or has it helped you through a challenging time in your life? Have you found comfort in crochet or knitting? I’d love to hear your story so please share it with us in the comments.
As always, I thank you for stopping by. I hope this blog has helped you realize the benefits crochet and yarn arts can give you, not only physically but mentally and emotionally.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my story and until next time, take care and keep on hooking!