Note from James: This guest post came a few days before my therapist recommended that I find a hobby–besides blogging–that I can focus on at home. Something I can do to busy my hands and quiet my mind. At first, knitting came to mind, because I’d learned how to do it years ago. But I gave it up years ago, and I’m sure there was a reason I can’t remember now but that could possibly cause me to lose interest again. So I’ve been giving her suggestion a lot of thought over the weekend. Then, today I remembered I had this guest post sitting in my e-mail! It’s serendipitous, don’t you think? Perhaps I’ll learn to crochet…
I believe that everyone is creative. I think it’s in our nature. I think that doing creative things not only helps to improve our quality of life, but also actually offers hands-on healing for a variety of different ailments that we may encounter. Unfortunately I have seen all too many times that there are people who don’t think of themselves as creative and who therefore limit the potential for their own healing by shying away from creative activities. In my opinion, crochet is a craft that can help with this problem, because it is a creative act that almost anyone can do.
Crochet Saved My Life
I won’t get into the specifics of my own personal history here but suffice to say that I battled intense, debilitating depression for fifteen years before I finally got the help I needed to move forward in a healthier way with my life. My healing process included therapy, medication, yoga, journaling and daily, sometimes hourly, sessions of crochet. I didn’t learn to crochet until my mid-twenties and I clung to it as something that I could do in the depths of despair, during a time when I could do very little else.
Like many people, my days during this dark time were characterized by both depression and anxiety. Although I didn’t realize it then, the repetitive craft of crochet offers a serotonin boost that helped induce relaxation and acted as a natural anti-depressant. Crochet works by basically creating the same small motion over and over again and this is immensely soothing. It helped to quell the anxiety. The entire process gave me a mindful focus for my energy and attention, breaking negative cycles of rumination in my head. In other words, I stopped stressing out for just a moment here and there and my anxious, upset brain got a little break. These little breaks began to add up and I began to heal.
The tactile sensations of the craft aided in my healing. I embraced bold yarn colors. More importantly, I snuggled comfortably into the safe touch of soft yarn. I cozied up in the warm fabrics crafted by my own hand. When no other touch could have felt safe, the touch of something I’d made myself was healing. Crochet helped save me in a very tangible way.
Anyone Can Crochet
What I found to be especially great about crochet was that it’s an easy craft to learn. You only need to know a couple of basic stitches to be able to make scarves, blankets and even garments. You can use patterns to create these things so that although you are creating, you do not have to pull inspiration out of thin air. You do not have to see yourself as an artist to be able to create beautiful things in crochet.
I found this important because in my lowest times I lacked the energy to create in the sense of writing or drawing or painting or scrapbooking. I lacked the self-confidence to even begin to tackle daunting new crafts. Crochet was simple, easy, comforting and so I was able to take it on without becoming overwhelmed. The more I created, the more confident that I became in my ability to create, until one day I found that I actually could take the risk on a drawing class or something a little more frightening than a crochet pattern. I built up my creative skills and creative self-confidence through the repetitive act of making.
We have a human drive to create. Creating, as so many others have said here, helps to heal us, sometimes in ways that we can’t even possibly understand. I am here today, an artist and maker and author, as living proof that you do not have to know how to do anything more than wind a piece of yarn around a hook again and again in order to create a new life for yourself. Give yourself permission to try.
This is a guest post by Kathryn Vercillo, author of a book called Crochet Saved My Life, which explores all of the mental and physical health benefits of the craft. Kathryn blogs at Crochet Concupiscence.