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. In this post she shares how crafts can heal when used as a social activity. She also introduces us to Yarndevu, a new resource connecting knitters and crocheters. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Knitting and crochet are often used therapeutically in group settings for substance abuse, pregnant women on bed rest and for those coping with social anxiety. There are several reasons why group crafting is so effective in addressing these challenges.
The Craft is the Focal Point
A primary reason why knitting and crochet are useful in group therapy is that the focus is taken off of the patient and put on the needlework itself. Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, California offered a crochet group to pregnant mothers on bed rest to help them take their minds off of their stress and fears, while still allowing them to connect with other women going through the same experience.
People in therapy groups who are coping with grief, abuse and other difficult situations may find it easier to begin talking with others about a project they are working on before getting comfortable enough to talk about more personal issues. Even in less intense situations, it can be helpful to focus on knitting and crochet in a group. These activities are great ice breakers and relaxing at the same time.
Teaching and Learning Together in Community
Another great aspect of knitting and crocheting in a group is that you can teach others what you know about a craft while learning what they have to offer. For a learner, this is a terrific way to build skills and get inspiration in a more personal and intimate way than watching YouTube videos or reading craft blogs. For a teacher, it's empowering to see someone benefit from sharing the skills that you have to offer.
It can also strengthen a group to learn something new together. One craft teacher found that when she taught crochet to teenage boys in substance abuse recovery, the process of learning the craft together helped to create a sense of cohesion and community among the group members so that that they were more comfortable working together. A friend of mine always uses the phrase “connection before content,” i.e. a group must feel kinship for one another they can access deeper levels of friendship.
Other Benefits of Crafting in a Group Setting
Some of the other reasons that it’s worth giving group crafting a try include:
- Camaraderie with people who share at least one thing in common with you
- Accountability for working on and honing your craft; inspiration from others
- Affordability in comparison to many other types of social groups
- Self-esteem building thanks to support within the group
Professor John Benyon of the University of Leicester says, “evidence shows that arts and crafts bring much wider benefits to our communities and society, for example in terms of improved health, greater social inclusion, less loneliness and stronger cultural ties”.
Connecting With A Knit or Crochet Partner Or Group
So how do you find people to knit or crochet out with? One new solution is Yarndevu, the “rendez-vous for yarn lovers”. This new resource is launching soon in the New York City area with the intention to help you “find people online to meet face-to-face, so you can teach or learn, to knit and crochet”. Those local crafty lessons could be a starting point for conversation, networking, friendship and more. Other resources for finding local crafting groups including checking on Ravelry, within Facebook groups and with your local yarn shop for classes and meet-ups that are near your area.
What has been your experience with crafting in groups? How has it helped you? What are the pros and cons?