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 5 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 have discussed a lot of ideas for using crafts to improve your mental and physical health. But what about the reverse – improving your health so that you can be a better crafter? It turns out that one can help the other in a cycle of ongoing self-improvement.
One of the main complaints that knitters and crocheters have is that their crafts can cause them hand pain. This includes carpal tunnel and other repetitive strain injury. You can reduce that by doing regular hand exercises. Keeping your hands limber will allow you to yarncraft for longer periods of time.
It’s a case of one hand washing the other because as you do needlecrafting, you loosen certain parts of your hands. Many people have reported that crochet helps them reduce symptoms of arthritis for example. So you can do hand and finger exercises in order to crochet better and then the more you crochet, the less your hands are likely to hurt.
Here are 9 hand exercises for crafters’ fingers, thumbs and wrists.
In general, the looser and more relaxed your body is, the healthier it’s going to feel and the less likely you are to feel pain associated with knitting and crochet. Tight muscles in the neck, shoulders and back can get worse with repetitive crochet. Loosening those muscles with yoga and other stretching will help your body so that you can continue to knit and crochet without discomfort.
It is possible to knit and crochet without eyesight. In fact, there are several people who have reported that they crochet despite macular degeneration and total or partial blindness. Nevertheless, it’s certainly easier if you can see your stitches. Doing eye exercises to reduce eyestrain can help improve your eyesight for many crafting years to come.
You can find some helpful eye strain exercises here.
If one of your health issues is a high level of stress (which itself can lead to other serious health problems like heart conditions) then there are many things that you may do to reduce your stress levels. A number of those things are aimed at helping you to sit still, meditate, breath deeply, stay calm and focus on the present moment. All of those things are skills that can help improve your crafting. The longer you can sit still and focus on a project, the sooner you can get crochet and knitting products completed.
Knitting and crochet have been shown to reduce symptoms of mental illness, particularly depression. The opposite is true as well; when you feel better then you can be a better, more inspired, more productive crafter. As depression lifts, you get more motivated to try new things in your craft, explore your own creativity and use crafting as a form of self-expression. As anxiety lessens, you’re more comfortable to take the risk to put your work out there for others to see and even try to make some money off of your knitting and crochet efforts. As you feel better, you craft better and as you craft more, you feel even better.
What can you start doing today to improve your total wellness and therefore improve your crafting?