Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. This is part 3 in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
We recently explored the top ten health benefits of yarncrafting. Many of you chimed in and it was amazing to see how many different ways we can be helped and healed by knitting and crochet. Here we have five different women with five different stories illustrating how much crafting can help us. I already knew Tamara of Moogly blog because we support each other’s crochet blogs online. The other four women responded to my ongoing request to hear from anyone who wants to share their stories about how crochet helps them.
1. Diane: Traumatic Brain Injury and Life Transitions
Diane Stavros is a Massachusetts-based crafter and mother of three. She discovered how helpful crochet and knitting could be for her during a really difficult divorce. She reduced her anxiety, centered herself and found peace by sitting down and losing herself in craft projects. However, the craft really came to save her life after she experienced a traumatic brain injury in 1997.
She shares: “There’s a long list of all the ways in which the mental and physical actions of crocheting assist with recovering from that. Very briefly, it helps with focus, sequential thinking, planning, seeing patterns, restoring faith in one’s self, and hand-eye coordination.
2. Cynthia: Grief and PTSD
Cynthia Maddox is a Southern gal who learned to crochet in her twenties but was a multicrafter who focused mostly on sewing until her husband died from a heart attack in 2009. She was experiencing tremendous grief and post-traumatic stress when she re-discovered her crochet work as she was cleaning out some closets.
She shares: “My first project after more than 10 years was a Swiffer sock and I didn’t even own a Swiffer. It just looked easy and interesting and was a good way to get back into crochet. I must have made a dozen or so of those socks. I gave three away to my daughter-in-law and others I gave to family and friends and my church for a fundraiser. I realized that when I was crocheting those silly things I wasn’t really thinking about anything else and I felt calmer. And even afterwards, for a little while, I felt better. I’m less stressed, more focused, and able to push back painful thoughts and memories when I crochet.”
3. Tamara: Post-Partum Stress
Tamara Kelly, the crochet designer behind Moogly blog, always wanted to be a stay-at-home parent but quickly discovered that it was harder than she’d expected. Although she wasn’t diagnosed with post-partum depression, she had many of the symptoms and experienced a difficult time adjusting to being home alone all day with a newborn. That’s when she learned to crochet.
She shares: “I'd always found solace in art and crafting, but paint, glitter, hot glue and new babies don't mix! Crocheting helped me in several ways - the zen of the stitches was good, and making something with my hands calmed me. And learning something new excited my brain, which was a huge help! But most of all I think it was the finished projects that made me feel better. It didn't matter what they were - crooked scarves, holey washcloths - they were things I had finished. Unlike the never ending laundry, feeding, diapers, and mess, my crochet projects were things I made that were done, finished, complete!”
4. Nina: Alcohol Addiction
Nina is a 43-year-old mom to one who lives in the North of the UK. She spent more than a decade as a heavy drinker. Her sister died at age 42 of alcoholic liver disease and a few short years later Nina realized that she had better quit drinking.
She shares, “When I gave up drinking, I would spend hours crocheting. It really helped me with the cravings. I cannot overstate how important crochet was for me in the early days of my quitting. I made a huge blanket for my own bed, which will be a constant reminder of that time. Since I stopped drinking, I have felt so much more creative, and I hope to be able to crochet for more people now.”
5. Sheila: Chronic Pain
Sheila, who runs a Miniature Schnauzer Rescue in Nebraska, lives with chronic pain from a variety of different conditions. She has had two hip and knee replacements; has two forms of degenerative arthritis and a neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis; survived a stroke; battled malignant melanoma; and has had multiple failed back surgeries. She also has double vision and is half-blind in her right eye. Crochet has helped her get through many hours in hospitals and relieves some of her physical pain.
She shares: “Crochet, and specifically crochet design, has some unique way of distracting my brain from my physical pain, allowing me to keep my sanity! When I'm crocheting I'm able to shut almost everything else out and focus on the work. If I didn't have crochet, I have no idea how I would have survived all of this! I am never without a tiny ball of size 20 thread and a crochet hook, so that I'm always prepared for a ‘crochet emergency!’”
How has crochet or knitting helped you?