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The Therapy of Crochet and Knitting

Has crafting ever brought you out of a tough time? Often, the meditative and creative aspects of yarn crafts can be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to coping with grief, depression, or that funk you just haven't been able to emerge from. Though knitting and crochet are often looked at as lighthearted, serene crafts, the emergence of many crafting social groups over the last several years speaks to the release of both the craft and the social component that frequently comes along with it. A new book highlights the healing that can come from crochet.

Crochet Saved My Life chronicles the journey of a college freshman coping with the usual suspects--new school, new state, new friends--as well as the far less familiar, including the surprise diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor. Author Kathryn Vercillo describes how she found release from her anxiety and stress in the therapeutic nature of each repetitive stitch.

More than telling her own story, which includes the profound motion of dropping a knife from her wrist and picking up yarn instead, Vercillo also shares the stories of other men and women who have found solace in crochet and knitting, as well as the effects these crafts have on those with various mental and physical conditions, including anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

To learn more about the book, click here.

So many of us have found comfort in the stitches of knitting and crochet. Have these yarn crafts gotten you through difficult times in your life? Share your experiences below. 

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  • Sabrina

    When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, knitting was a source of solace for me, a way to focus my prayers for her well being in every stitch. I would knit washcloth after washcloth. It would relax her too to watch me, and after I'd bind off, she'd be so happy to receive a new washcloth in bright and happy colors. I think that knitting is a way to take your energy and turn it into something useful and beautiful.

  • Val

    Absolutely. I've had a miscarriage, and then a stillbirth, last year as my husband and I try to fulfill our dream of becoming parents. So heartbreaking. I find tremendous comfort in knitting. After my miscarriage (my first pregnancy after years of trying) I sat still and quiet on my couch and knitted washcloth after washcloth until I could look up and face the world again. Each cloth was a tiny little affirmation that I still have a place and purpose in the world, that I can create something lovely and good. This time, after losing my son, it's socks. I couldn't save my son... but I can knit socks to warm the feet of the loved ones who are still alive here with me, or even strangers. It's small, but it's something, and it feels like it matters. I'm knitting wool socks for afghans for Afghans currently... it enables me to create a bit of order, beauty and comfort in this chaotic, difficult world for myself and someone else too.

  • http://profiles.google.com/juli1961 Juli Williams

    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years ago, I began to knit and crochet pink ribbons. I designed them myself using # 10 crochet cotton both with and without beads. I then gave them to a relay for life team which sold them as a fundraiser. It ended up making over $100 dollars for the team. I went to the relay and walked at the Survivors Lap just one month after I finished my treatment. I now craft ribbons in a variety of colors depending on the cancer--I made a white one for my church's pastor when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. And i still make them for the relay for life fundraiser.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradley.livingston.10 Bradley Livingston

    It helps my PTSD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NicalaineB Nikki Brown

    When my daughter had a heart attack at the age of 34 two days before my grandson was born with ventral septal defect and a detached aorta......thank goodness a friend brought me a hook and some yarn while I sat in the ICU with my daughter and stayed on the phone with my son.

  • phaefner

    Almost two years ago my youngest son passed away at the age of 20. He was a wonderful son and a great friend to people who knew him. After losing him I found it very hard not to spend every minute wishing him back and trying to understand. About two months after his death I started to make crocheted Barbie clothes without really knowing who I was making them for. As it turned out the intricate patterns occupied my mind and got me through the toughest thing I have ever had to endure. By Christmas time of that year I had made quite a few outfits and found out that a friend had a young granddaughter who was wild about Barbie. She received all of the clothes and was happy it warmed my heart very much. I still miss my son every single minute of every single day and would love to go back to before he left but that's not possible. So many evenings are spent crocheting or knitting or some other form of crafting to keep me occupied. My crafts have been a gift to my soul and my heart.

  • Erica

    I started crocheting dishcloths to quit smoking. Everyone in my family now has a dishcloth. Then I started crocheting squares for a blanket for my sister's wedding. So far it has really helped me.

  • Michelle

    Almost eight years ago I lost my fiancee to suicide. That is never a good situation to find yourself in, but worse if you suffer from your own case of depression. I couldn't function for the first few weeks. I couldn't even handle basic things like showering, dressing, or eating unless someone reminded me or bullied me into it. My grandmother saw what was needed and brought me every ball of scrap yarn, leftover skein, or impulse yarn buy she'd acquired over a 25 year time span....a grand total of almost 30 pounds of yarn. And I crocheted. Nothing complicated, just simple stripes and chevrons, but my fingers moved, I focused on something other than my grief and my pain, and I breathed. It took me almost four weeks to use up all that yarn, but when it was gone I had a mountain of lapghans to donate to local nursing homes and I was again able to get up out of the chair, take a shower, get dressed, and face the world and moving past my grief.

  • Michelle

    Almost eight years ago I lost my fiancee to suicide. That is never a good situation to find yourself in, but worse if you suffer from your own case of depression. I couldn't function for the first few weeks. I couldn't even handle basic things like showering, dressing, or eating unless someone reminded me or bullied me into it. My grandmother saw what was needed and brought me every ball of scrap yarn, leftover skein, or impulse yarn buy she'd acquired over a 25 year time span....a grand total of almost 30 pounds of yarn. And I crocheted. Nothing complicated, just simple stripes and chevrons, but my fingers moved, I focused on something other than my grief and my pain, and I breathed. It took me almost four weeks to use up all that yarn, but when it was gone I had a mountain of lapghans to donate to local nursing homes and I was again able to get up out of the chair, take a shower, get dressed, and face the world and moving past my grief.

  • Heidi

    When my older dughters and I lost custody of my youngtest daughter to my cruel ex-husband it gave me solace to knit for her. It helps me bide the time when I get to see her for visitation and count the months in between when my heart is breaking. Then in the short times when I do get to see her I get to present her with something lovely she can where to remind her that I am thinking of her. It is not the same as a hug, but it is close.

  • http://www.facebook.com/craftsbytraci Traci Stone

    I had a miscarriage in January 2011, followed up by losing my mother-in-law (more like a mother to me really than my own mother) April of 2011. I ended up seeing a therapist and feeling like I never was getting anywhere or getting any better. I tried to focus on my one true passion, crocheting. I spent a LOT of time crocheting and stashing yarn for projects. March of 2012, I lost my dad. We weren't real close until months before he died. When he died, I DIVED fully into crocheting. I made it my "job" because I found when my hands were moving with yarn and a hook, I wasn't being overly emotional. It gave me time to focus on something other than all the loss I had experienced while also having the chance to think about the loss in a healthy manor. I was able to think it through and realize it wasn't my fault for any of it. That there was nothing I could do to change it. By keeping my hands busy, I was also keeping my mind busy. I still crochet today, will for as long as I can. I make things to sell, to decorate my home with, to use in my home, or even as gifts. I can't imagine my life without it. When my dad died in March of 2012, I started smoking again, about 1 1/2 packs a day (which was way more than I ever did - used to be just as needed for stress really) Oct. 28, 2012, I got the flu, followed by full blown pneumonia. The DAY I got sick was the last day I have smoked a cigarette. I still get stressed and have thought about smoking a few times, but have managed to avoid it by crocheting. So overall, if it hadn't been for my art, I wouldn't have made it through a miscarriage, losing my mother-in-law, losing my father, and quitting smoking. I crochet EVERY day even when I don't want to.

  • dizzydeb102

    I stopped smoking about 24 years ago. I set up my own non-smoking plan, wrote everything down and even gave myself permission to smoke. Although with the permission came certain rules I had to follow. I smoked twice and that was it. However, I found I really needed something to do with my hands since I didn't have a cigarette in them anymore. My mother had taught me how to crochet a poncho when I was a young teenager. So, I picked up some crochet hooks and yarn, and a "how to crochet" book and started. You cannot smoke and crochet at the same time. I'd have to say that crocheting was one of the biggest reasons that I was so successful at quitting cigarettes. Thanks for letting me share that. --Deb

  • Sam

    I have panic attacks when I'm in the car. My husband has family 8,17 and 23 hours away so we spend a lot of time in the car. I learned to crochet by looking at lion brand's website, printed some patterns and spent an entire road trip just learning the ropes. It made the trip go by soooo fast and I didn't have a single panic attack. From then on, my crochet has gone everywhere with me. I even turned my therapy into a really decent business. :)

  • carolinablessed

    Pretty simple....if I have crocheting in my hands, I'm not putting food in my mouth! With my health issues, extra weight is a constant battle!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hyphenatedlady Christina Sexton-Seibert

    I taught myself to crochet while I was on bedrest during a twin pregnancy more than 8 years ago. It took me a couple of weeks to master the basics but I was stuck in bed for two months so I had plenty of time to perfect my technique. At that time crocheting kept me from depression and kept me productive as I spent most of my waking hours alone. I was also able to contribute to Christmas "shopping" (my bedrest lasted from mid-November to mid-January) through making gifts for family and friends. I have benefited so much from crochet over the years. It kept my hands busy as I struggled through compulsive eating and lost 65 pounds. It is very difficult to crochet and feed your face at the same time....lol. I have also used it to occupy time during my second pregnancy and during 6 weeks of recovery after ankle surgery. I am the mom of three, with my youngest at home and my twins in 2nd grade. I babysit a two month-old and am also in college at 39 years old. Crochet is something I do to relieve stress, to find my own personal "zen" moments. I also adore making special heirloom gifts for expecting friends and their kiddos.

  • Jackie

    I was taught to knit when I was 10 years old. I started with slippers. Taught myself to crochet after being married and have loved both of them ever since. I can't get enough yarn. I love to knit/crochet in the evening. It calms me down, just the rhythm and motion of the needle(s) going back and forth is very soothing. It's even better when I can make something for the mission, or the needy in the community, knowing that it will be accepted and used by them.

  • Michelle P.

    When I was nine and a half years old my mother died after giving birth to a stillborn child. it devastated me. A thoughtful counselor knowing I loved crafts began to teach me to crochet. At age eleven my Aunt finished the teaching when we moved back to my hometown. I am so thankful now for this hobby. It calms my nerves, soothes sorrows and brings me peace especially with all the health issues I have now. I am bi polar and have trouble sitting still but I need to because of an issue with my right leg which requires extended periods of sitting at times. Crochet helps me to do so and also provides a way to give to others. I made over 200 snowflakes in November and December, now I am making angels, and I always have a doily or two or an afghan going.

  • jmdtk

    I have had a rough 6 months - crochet was the thing that initially pulled me out :-)

  • Amanda

    My story isn't amazing or unique. Sometimes sitting calmly is difficult; even now, keeping my hands occupied stills my chaotic thoughts. I was from a very rural area and I learned to crochet when I was young to keep cabin fever at bay. When I got married, I moved to the suburb of a big city. I was fine until I got a job in the city. For the first year, I rode with my husband through rush hour traffic. My initial ride to work left my heart racing and my stress level through the roof. Learning to knit helped me to deal with the stress of riding with my husband through bumper-to-bumper traffic. Without the knitting, I'd arrive frazzled. Eventually, I got used to the traffic and now I knit for pleasure as well as distraction. As long as my hands are busy, I am happy.

  • clamatojane

    Crocheting is one among other types of sewing I do but crocheting has been helping me tremendously with getting through my husband's current deployment. It's keeping my hands and my mind busy so that I do not have time to dwell on his safety and not being here.

  • Brenda

    I live in my 99 year old mother's home and am her sole caregiver. Since losing their home, my daughter and her family live in my home. My crocheting projects give me a sense of accomplishment and center me in my life of 'homelessness'. The stress of having no place of my own i eased somewhat when I crochet. Shopping for yarn and talking with other knitters and crocheters also helps a lot.

  • Liana Seda

    I taught myself to crochet and knit after giving birth to my first born daughter four and half months too early five years ago. In the weeks after, I constantly felt like making booties because I felt like she was cold.. so I kept making booties until one day when I finally made a pair I thought was perfect and put it in her memory box. Then hats, then blankets and then dresses. Eventually I started to donate all the items I made to hospital where she passed away. I still do to this day, I like being able to provide items to other families who have experienced the same kind of loss. Finding something that will fit their tiny babies is one less thing they have to worry about. Knitting and crocheting really helped me to cope with the loss of my beautiful daughter <3 Now I find that it helps me through my grief, depression and anxiety. It definitely saved my life.

  • Nicole

    I have PTSD from being sexually assaulted and it keeps my mind from wandering. Before I started knitting/crocheting I spent hours playing video games and drinking to numb my mind, between obsessively checking the doors and windows!

  • Kate

    I couldn't have children. After months of treatment and two miscarriages, we gave up. It was not an easy thing to do. Then my sister-in-law announced her pregnancy. After many tears, I decided I couldn't let anyone see me as the bitter barren aunt, so I knit a blanket for the baby. I found it so soothing and so fulfilling to create something, I quickly found another project. Knitting helped me heal from my losses. It gave me something bright and beautiful in my life again.

  • Heidi Perry

    After my Grandmother was left a widow at 48 years old she crochet afghan after afghan. She told me it "saved her bacon". She is the most important, influential person in my life. She passed away last year the day after my 48th birthday she was 92. And I can assure you without a doubt that both crochet and knitting had also saved my bacon.

  • MJ

    When my mom was sick for several years. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with her. As a quilter she wasn't able to do that craft as she didn't move a whole lot off the couch or out of bed some days as she would get really sick. I as a crocheter, reminded my mom that she does know how to knit and crochet. So I went with her to the store and picked up the things needed to get started. She would sit and make baby hats for charity as well as knit wash clothes. It was a short project that she could do while waiting at the doctors offices or hospitals. She always tells me that is what kept her going. She is a lot better these last couple of years or so, she has gone back to quilting. But still keeps her knitting and crochet with her in a bag any time she needs to go somewhere, where there may be a wait.
    Myself, I don't go anywhere without my crochet. I learned in 2002 and wish I had learned in it a lot earlier. I know it could have helped my a lot when growing up.

  • Funkyblossoms

    I deal with Panic Anxiety w/Depression. During times of high stress, crochet gives my spinning mind something to concentrate on. The repetitive action is soothing as is tracking a pattern. I was blessed to be taught by my grandmother when I was young. It has been a source of great comfort through the trials and tribulations that life can bring. I say, "Bring it on Life, I've got a hook and yarn!"

  • Marge

    We have had a hard time the past ten years and I try and keep the mindset that there are others out there that are have it worse than me and I do have so much to be thankful for. The mind has a way of reminding you of all the things that have happened and keep happening like the sudden death of my father(2003), then the next year my mother. Then in January of 2009 we learned of my father in law having cancer (lived one month) then in May 2009 my only sister was diagnosed with cancer (she is in the end stages now) and my husband in June of 09 (thanks to early detection and yearly physicals it is cured) and now myself in Oct 2012 (still waiting for all the results to see if they got it all). It has helped me endure the low times, I can sit and do any stitch I want to and not dwell on what might be or is going on in my body, I can pray endlessly and if the random design turns out I have something new to give to family or friends. I can't say I'd keep it for myself because usually when I show someone they say they love it and it grows legs and that is ok because I feel rewarded for my time.

  • Gloria S

    When I hurt my knee, I had to have it elevated most of the time to prevent swelling. Crochet helped keep my mind off the fact that I couldn't do some of the things I used to do. Then, when they discovered I had a blood clot in my leg AND in my lung, after a week in the hospital, again I was reduced to sitting around with my leg elevated. This time, however, I was also trying to quit smoking. Crocheting helped keep my hands busy, plus the money I made from selling my finished projects paid for Christmas presents for my kids and grandkids. I was so glad I'd taught myself how to crochet when my oldest granddaughter was born. I'm proud to say I'm smoke-free now (over a year) and will soon have surgery on my knee in the near future. I'm still crocheting and keeping busy. In fact, right now, I'm working on an afghan to donate for our local Band Boosters for their fund raiser.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vfisher75 Vicki Fisher

    For me crochet, is my anti-depressant as well as my ADD medicine. I do take meds for depression but I would most likely take a higher dosage if it wasn't for the calm that washed over me as I crochet. I also have ADD and while I manage without medication, having crochet be the one thing that I can start a project and not finish and/or allow my mind to wander and thus come up with new project ideas or just ideas as a whole keeps me from having to take meds. I just wish that my boys would take up crochet or even knitting, but while both have tried it, they don't have the patience for me to teach them anything past chaining.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elaine.mathewscappiello Elaine Mathews Cappiello

    My husband lost his job in 2010, and we didn't tell my mom for fear the worry would affect her health. As it turned out, she died within six months. Within a year of that, my brother had open heart surgery to address complications from an earlier heart surgery. We had to move into my in-laws house after our rental was sold for a new development. So yes, I was a bit stressed, depressed and anxious.

    My husband's aunt taught me how to crochet at Thanksgiving 2011. Since then, I've made lapghans, coasters, baby blankets, dishcloths, afghans, snowflakes, holiday ornaments, scarves, cowls, etc. People have started gifting yarn to me to keep my supply up. My kids have stopped playing with my yarns, as the novelty has worn off, LOL.

    My husband is working again, after more than two years of unemployment. Counting stitches kept me from sitting inside my head all that time, and friends and relatives truly appreciate handcrafted gifts.

  • KnittingMimi

    I have arthritis and fibromyalgia. Around the time I was finally diagnosed, my divorce became final and both of my parents died. I have crocheted since age six and it has seen me through some pretty dark times...bullying, depression, loneliness, grief, miscarriage, adultery...you name it. I taught myself to knit while in my twenties. I have used this craft over the years in much the same way. Now, as my daughter nears the end of her college years and I see a future alone (except for my doggies), I use my knitting and crocheting as a way to bring me down after a rough day at work, fulfill my need to create and express myself and fill my evenings with something enjoyable. I am a counselor/therapist by trade and find a great deal of value in needlework as a therapeutic tool.

  • Irish

    The last few years of my job were a nightmare... and with all the hiring freezes, transferring was virtually impossible. Job after job that I "got" were pulled out from under me. Crocheting in those years prevented many many deaths.

  • Sharon Goebel

    I quit smoking by "manufacturing" afghans (crocheted). We were starting the adoption process. I don't like to see anyone holding a baby smoking.

  • Rosebud55

    Crocheting helped me when I was in the UPMC Hospital after I had a 6 organ transplant 8 yrs ago . I was so bored from being couped up in a hospital room.So I had mt DIL get a bunch of yarn .And crocheted a bunch of rippled afgans . It help take away how much I was so bored .even made a small afghan for one of my doctors daughter. Some of the nurses and aids told me they liked to crochet too,when they had time .

  • Becky

    Years ago, my mother taught me to crochet. I would love to sit and watch her make afghans as well as hats, scarves and mittens for myself and my three older brothers. Due to work and raising my own daughter, I just didn't have time to continue in my hobby. Three years ago I lost my mother, my best friend. To help me feel close to the one person I missed more than anything in this world, I picked up my hooks and yarn and started crocheting again. It has helped me in the grief process to feel close to my mother again, and to know that she will forever be with me and will live on in the things, big and small, that she has taught me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.brigante Danielle Brigante

    I've been dealing with horrendously stressful situations for both myself and my boyfriend for the better part of 6 months. One of these situations is despite working full time, a beast of a commute combined with drowning in debt has prevented me from doing some things that helped me defuse the stress & keep my anxiety & panic attacks at bay. Happily I have a decent sized yarn stash in storage, and I've used it to work on 2 blankets - one of granny squares for the first apartment my boyfriend and I hope to rent this year, and one I call the "Bitter End Blanket", which is all the little tiny scraps that most people would toss, which I am working into a wonderfully eclectic & very unique little labor of love. Being able to focus on one small piece of a blanket, whether it's working on a square or crocheting in a 10" strand of purple yarn right after a 7" strand of hot pink, has helped me calm my racing thoughts, pulse & breathing and helped me concentrate beyond myself & my stressors. Sure I probably still cry myself to sleep more than anyone should, but being able to work with my hands to stave off what I once mistook for a heart attack? I'd be in a rubber room by now if I didn't have my crocheting.

  • DB

    I've been dealing with horrendously stressful situations for both myself
    and my boyfriend for the better part of 6 months. One of these
    situations is despite working full time, a beast of a commute combined
    with drowning in debt has prevented me from doing some things that
    helped me defuse the stress & keep my anxiety & panic attacks at
    bay. Happily I have a decent sized yarn stash in storage, and I've used
    it to work on 2 blankets - one of granny squares for the first
    apartment my boyfriend and I hope to rent this year, and one I call the
    "Bitter End Blanket", which is all the little tiny scraps that most
    people would toss, which I am working into a wonderfully eclectic &
    very unique little labor of love. Being able to focus on one small piece
    of a blanket, whether it's working on a square or crocheting in a 10"
    strand of purple yarn right after a 7" strand of hot pink, has helped me
    calm my racing thoughts, pulse & breathing and helped me
    concentrate beyond myself & my stressors. Sure I probably still cry
    myself to sleep more than anyone should, but being able to work with my
    hands to stave off what I once mistook for a heart attack? I'd be in a
    rubber room by now if I didn't have my crocheting.

  • Janet

    I had almost forgotten how knitting helped me heal nearly 40 years ago. When I was 17 I suffered a severe broken elbow, the joint was shattered and required nearly three weeks in traction followed by about six months of physical therapy. I had started knitting a sweater before the accident and as I was able to move my arm more I asked when I could start knitting again. Knitting involves a lot of twisting the forearm which is controlled by the elbow. My therapist was doubtful I could knit for many weeks yet. I picked up my knitting anyway and slowly adapted my stitches to what I could manage at each stage of my recovery and finished that sweater.


    Now I still cope with my problems and depression with knitting, the simple repetitive actions making something beautiful out of the relative chaos of a skein of yarn has a calming effect. I knit a lot of items for charity, the pleasure I get is from making something. The pleasure a homeless or hospitalized person gets is being remembered as a human being by someone taking the time to make something for them. This win-win situation shows that even non-crafters can be touched by the healing powers of yarn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/princess.trunoske Princess Trunoske

    I have been a smoker off and on for 20 years. I have quit several times, but the cravings never went away. Anytime something stressful happened in my life or i was around my friends that smoked, i would slip or just start up again. 10 years ago my sister in law passed away while my mother in law was in the hospital. We had to move my in laws in with me and my husband and 1 and a half year old to care for them. I got pregnant with my son and we found out my sister in laws husband's cancer had become terminal. 7 months after my sister in law passed away her husband passed away and we gained guardianship of my 14 and 16 year old nieces. So we had 10 people and 3 generations living together that I cared for. Smoking was a big stress releiver through most of those years. After my father in law passed away 2 years ago I started smoking again with a fury. After some scary health issues i was able to quit a year ago. I decided I was in need of something to occupy my time and hands and thanks to my dad (who bought me a kit) and my stepmom (who bought me yarn and the proper hooks) i was able to teach myself through library books and youtube how to crochet! I love it so much!! I subscribe to m.any newsletters and blogs and love making hats and infinity scarves! People think i am crazy because i find it so very therapudic! That and I am only 37 and they think crocheting is only for older people. Lol. But through my mother in laws recent cancer diagnosis and my 24 hour care she is in need from me (as well as taking care of my family) i find much solice in my yarn crafts! I have not had any cravings for cigaretts at all! I have plenty of opportunity to smoke from friends and enough stress to want to. So crocheting has helped save my sanity and my life!

  • April

    I was twenty when I first became pregnant. Five months later we sat in an office and were being told our baby was never going to live through birth. The day he was born (and died) I found out my best friend was pregnant. I picked up my hooks and did not put them down for the next four months. Even when I started working again I still would not come out of my yarn. I made many pretty things but never took pictures and frankly I don't remember what most of them are. God and Crocheting helped save my sanity.

  • Debra

    With many chronic illnesses my productive life was taken from me. After years of not knitting I started again and it has helped fill many sleepless nights and long days. I can make gifts for others and for charity and feel productive again. It's so therapeutic.

  • CrochetBlogger

    Thank you so much for sharing my book with your readers in this way. It has touched my heart to read the comments that people have shared in response to your post.

  • http://kathrynvercillo.com/2013/02/lion-brand-reviews-crochet-saved-my-life-comments-amaze-me/ Lion Brand Reviews Crochet Saved My Life; Comments Amaze Me | Kathryn Vercillo

    [...] Read the whole post here. [...]

  • Sarah F

    I taught myself how to crochet 11 years ago while pregnant with my fourth son. I was diagnosed with SVT and was put on bedrest. I made afghans for everyone in my family, and several baby blankets. I then found the Prayer Shawl Ministry and have made quite a few shawls for friends with cancer, a neighbor that moved a way and a friend whose son was very ill. The prayer and repetitive stitches are so healing! I love it....awesome therapy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.green.9400 Jamie Green

    At about 8 years old, I asked my grandmother what those different colored metal things were in her bill organizer/key holder that always hung on the wall, by the phone. "They are crochet hooks". "Oh," I said, and went on my way, wondering what "crow shay" meant. About a year later, they were still there, and I asked again. This time I thought to ask "what do you do with them?" This is when I learned the art of expressing myself through yarn. She has passed on now, but through life's ups and downs, depression, my son's autism diagnoses, fears and hopes for the future in general, I still have this talent that centers my storm and helps keep me calm. I like to experiment and learn from my mistakes. There is no time limit, no one to say I'm doing it wrong, wasting my time. Almost everything I make is a gift for another, and those I keep are practical household items or warm winter clothes. In making a gift for another, watching it come to be, it makes me feel good knowing it comes from the heart, that it will keep someone warm or make someone's life a bit easier or happier, and that in turn helps me in my life. A bit of Gram goes in each stitch; she was my starting chain.

  • AbracaDebra

    Knitting helps me as I seek employment. A nightmarish situation presented and I was suddenly out of work. My yarn stash enables me to mindlessly knit scarves, shawls, wraps and clothing for our darling puplets! Someone once said, "This too shall pass." and while I wait, I knit!

  • http://twitter.com/jennsplace Jennifer

    I learned to crochet when I got pink eye at age 11 or 12. My stepmom probably taught me so I'd stay out of her hair! Later I picked it up again because a lady I worked with crocheted while work was slow. It helped me quit smoking too. Recently, I was diagnosed with Polymyositis and had to do OT and PT to get my strength back. I started to crochet as soon as I could get past the pain. My OT was thrilled that I found an activity to help me with strength and mobility in my hands. It also helps my mind stay calm when I start to feel anxious about my health. I like to crochet while my son is in his activities, and it's a great conversation starter. I even set up an etsy shop so I could earn extra money while I wait for my disability to get denied again. :) I'm currently teaching myself to knit via youtube.

  • CATHY

    FROM THE TIME I WAS YOUNG I LIKED THE CHALLANGE THAT CROCHETING GAVE ME. WHEN I GOT OLDER AND BECAME THE CARE GIVER FOR BOTH PARENTS AND SPENDING TIME IN HOSPICE WITH THEM AT DIFFERENT TIMES. I FOUND IT VERY SOOTHING AND A WONDERFUL MEDITAT...ION WHILE SITTING WITH THEM IN THEIR FINAL HOURS. IF ANYONE HAS AFGHANS OR THROWS THEY DON'T HAVE USE FOR, HOSPICE IS A WONDERFUL WAY OF USING THEM. IT GIVES A LITTLE FEEL OF HOME AND A TOUCH OF LOVE.

  • Mary Ellen

    At the ripe age of 26, I had a hemmorhagic stroke caused by an arteriovenous malformation, which left me without some faculties. I used crocheting not only as a therapy for the PTSD and depression and general "what the hell happened to me" feeling, but also as my own form of occupational therapy. I found it to help me with my hand-eye coordination and I will always credit the craft with getting me through a very tough time in my life. It was relaxing. And therapeutic. And I made lots of cool stuff. Seven years later, I am still a crocheting machine, with a penchant for granny squares.

  • Sandra

    In the midst and aftermath of my divorce, my anxiety was so great that I could not sit still, and my attention span was so short that watching TV or reading a book was difficult or impossible. I also felt worthless and utterly alone, contributing nothing to life by my activities or my existence. Crocheting gave my restless hands something to do and allowed my 'monkey mind' space to settle down and focus on something tangible. The pride I felt as I saw my creation grow in front of me allowed me to regain a positive sense of self-esteem. Learning to crochet allowed me to take on a new identity as a crafty, DIY-oriented person, and exposed me to people and events I never would have known about before. I wear that first scarf I ever crocheted with pride--to remind me that while my world was crashing down around me and I was forced to rebuild, I have that single-crochet stitch, baby blue scarf that saved me.

  • Sandra

    In the midst and aftermath of my divorce, my anxiety was so great that I could not sit still, and my attention span was so short that watching TV or reading a book was difficult or impossible. I also felt worthless and utterly alone, contributing nothing to life by my activities or my existence. Crocheting gave my restless hands something to do and allowed my 'monkey mind' space to settle down and focus on something tangible. The pride I felt as I saw my creation grow in front of me allowed me to regain a positive sense of self-esteem. Learning to crochet allowed me to take on a new identity as a crafty, DIY-oriented person, and exposed me to people and events I never would have known about before. I wear that first scarf I ever crocheted with pride--to remind me that while my world was crashing down around me and I was forced to rebuild, I have that single-crochet stitch, baby blue scarf that saved me.

  • Renee

    Crocheting defiantly had a part is saving my life. I have bi-polar disorder and as peri-menopause came upon me certain symptoms intensified. I had no idea what was really going on. I was very suicidal but when I crocheted a calmness came over me. Whenever I felt myself sinking into the depression, I would sit and crochet. I make an effort to pass on crochet to anyone who is interested. It is such a gift.

  • RiverCity60

    My mother passed away recently and I started crocheting again. A skill she taught me. It makes me think of her and keeps her close.

  • Knitted Knotions

    As a mother of three whose husband traveled frequently, I found myself feeling lonely and sad. I signed up for a knitting class at my local yarn shop and haven't stopped since. That was 4 years ago! Not only did I make new friends....POSITIVE friends (not the negative kind) but I found my little 'retreat' after tucking the kids in bed. Even if it was just for twenty minutes, it helped me relax and rest easier when going to bed. I just recently learned to crochet and am torn on which to do now! ha! What a great problem to have! I could go on and on about these crafts...

  • Jacqulyne

    7 yrs. ago, my health took a dramatic turn for the worse.
    My muscles just gave out. I went from
    doctor to doctor trying to get some answers and some help. No one could tell me
    what was destroying my body. I had more tests than I can even count. Some were
    very painful. Including 5 biopsies of my muscles with only a local to help with
    the pain of it. I felt every cut they made. I started knitting at that time. I
    just needed something to help me through each day. 7 ½ yrs. later they are no closer to finding
    answers. My health has gone down even further. It has now affected my eye
    muscles, my voice, my throat muscles and even my ability to walk without the
    use of a cane or wheelchair. I knit every day. I may not be able to control what is happening
    to my body, but I can control something. Knitting helps keep me calm and
    peaceful when my whole world has turned upside down. The things I knit, I give away. It helps me to remember that I am but a small
    part of this big world and there are others who are much worse off than I
    am.

  • Grace

    In 2009 we had a series of disasters in our family that I found very devastating. There were days it was an effort to function normally. My sister-in-law passed away and her husband brought me all her yarn, tubs and tubs of yarn, hooks, patterns and I started crocheting again. If I was sitting I had yarn and a hook in my hand and it helped save my sanity. The rhthym of moving my hands and my crochet hook was calming and almost meditative. It carried me away to a place where it just didn't hurt so much. I get the same kind of relief from playing my piano and hand quilting. Once again we are in a season of distress and I have a bag of work I carry everywhere I go and if there is a free moment I am crocheting. It calms my soul and often as I crochet I pray for the person who will receive what I am making. I'm making a throw to donate to our youth group's craft auction and I am crocheting bibs, washclothes and a blanket for my new grandbaby to be.

  • Dee

    Wow! It is so enheartening to see just how many others are comforted by yarn crafts. With illnesses that often confine me to the couch or bed, knitting and crocheting has also "saved my life". As so many others have said, it helps me feel a little more productive, and creative, which then helps with the depression from being sick and in pain all the time. Still need my meds but there's nothing like finishing a project and sharing it with someone. Then wondering how quickly I can start the next one!

  • albie's mom

    Unbelievable to hear all of these stories. I've suffered a horrible battle with depression for the past six months. Over that time, I can't tell you how many times I thought that knitting had saved my life. I completed my first sweater in that period and I won't lie it had a few flaws. I wore it to work and so many people commented on what a great job I had done. It made me think that even with my own flaws I am also complete. These comments have made my heart soar!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cornelia.donovan Cornelia Donovan

    My husband was diagnosed with metastic colon cancer in 2004. Knitting helped me adjust, but the real comfort came on the last 3 days of his life. We were told that there was nothing left to do, and he had 3 days left to live. I couldn't have gotten through those last 3 terrible days of his pain, if I had not had my knitting with me. It kept me calm by just knitting those stitches and not letting me think. I think I knit about 8 scarfs just by knitting one stitch at a time.

  • nanas hands

    Wityout a doubt. I have been diisabled with arthritis for many, many years. The ONlY thing i am still able to do from a once, very active life, is crochet. I no longer can drive, cook, dance, clean (awe -- that one's a shame), sew, you name it, it cannot be done. But, I am able to balance my crochet hook in one hand, and the yarn in the other, and I can still make beautiful things that family and friends can enjoy. I am filled with joy and love because of this one gift Heavenly Father gave me in my disability.

  • Bonnie

    Twenty seven years ago my 14 year old daughter was killed in a crash involving a drunk driver. I wasn't knitting or crocheting at the time, but I had started working on a cross stitch marriage sampler for my oldest son prior to the accident. That cross stitch helped me so much after with the grief I experienced. I sat hours with it and just concentrating on the design took all my attention and diverted my mind from the tragedy.

  • Beth B.

    My late mother was skilled in all things hand crafted. Shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer, she slowed down on her knitting/crocheting. About a month before she passed, she asked me to buy her some "pretty" yarn to make a prayer shawl...not for herself or even me but just to work on. She nearly finished it and then ripped it out for some unseen flaw. At the time of her death, it was about 1/3 finished. My daughter and I each completed the rest of it. I now treasure this beautiful piece that spans 3 generations. The needles that I use are her needles and I never start a project that I don't think of her and thank her for passing the gift and love of knitting and crocheting to me.

  • Ruth

    26 years ago, at the age of 36, I was pregnant for the first time. I woke up to discover I was bleeding one day and found out that I had a condition called placenta previa in which the placenta is below the baby and rubs on the cervix. The rubbing causes the bleeding. It is a condition that goes away with time (as the baby grows, the placenta moves up) and several weeks of bed rest. As the doctor explained, I was allowed to get up to make myself lunch but not stay on my feet long enough to cook dinner. Fortunately, I had purchased yarn for a baby afghan the day before. While I was working on the crocheting, I felt connected to my baby and sure that he was okay, which he was. It was hard for me to be off my feet for 2 weeks but the crocheting kept me sane.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pam.mills.522 Pam Mills

    Knitting and crochet helps me to unwind from live's stress. I used to carry my knitting at work all the time. I would knit whenever I could. Now I am no longer able to work due to my diagnosis of Common Variable Immune Deficiency. I still knit when I can. I always taking a project with me to my doctor appointments so I have something to do while waiting. It also gets the nurses and I talking about my projects that I have done or I am currently working on. I just love yarn and the many things you can do with it. Stitch by stitch my problems fade and I meditate, helping to heal both body and soul.

  • Angi

    A year ago, my beloved daughter-in-law was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer only 4 months after giving birth. Her presence has added so much to our family that we were all devastated by the news. To cope with my anxiety and fears, I began to make her 'chemo prayer hats'. At home, at work, wherever I was , whatever else was going on, my hook was in my right hand, my yarn in my left. I made soft, warm fuzzy ones in early spring, to keep her head warm. I switched to cotton, bamboo and silk blends as the weather warmed, and I prayed for her full recovery with every single stitch. Her chemo and surgery were successful, her hair has grown back.Just last week, she asked me if I would mind if she donated the hats I made back to the hospital oncology department for others to use. I told her that I would be honored! On March 1, I received a lovely Thank You note from the American Cancer Society. It makes me want to crochet some more hats.

  • sealed4ever

    When my husband was hospitalized and critical from septic shock from an infected gall bladder, I knit for hours and hours, on what I now call my "what gall" scarf. Knitting mitigated the stress and I am even more thankful for him whenever I wear the scarf & remember.

  • I Love My Needlework Gal

    Wow! How amazing, that just goes to show how much crocheting and other needleworks are needed!! I've known a family that have very busy lives, then they set a time at night were they just knit and for the young girls and boy loom knitting. They enjoy it and the mother says it brings them closer together then ever! So before bed it gets the stress off and relaxs with a fun twist!!
    ~Olivia Harris~

  • Carolyn

    Four years ago I knew there was something wrong with my husband. I took him from one doctor to another. Sewing machines do not travel well, so I decided to try knitting while I waited for endless hours in Doctor's offices. Last year we were given a diagnosis, Alzheimer's. Since we are empty nesters I am blessed to have a room I have turned into my creative room. I run away to this room and spend hours knitting. I hardly ever finish anything but I cast on tons of projects. And that comforts me. I look at my yarn stash and enjoy the colours and softness of the different yarns. When my patience runs out and I want to scream I close the door and enjoy the solitude.

  • Teri

    So many wonderful stories from every one of you, that truly are an inspiration to all. I started knitting again this past December. Had not knit since I was in 8th grade, so whoever would have thought I would be inspired to pick it up again? I have had a difficult 2013 with a lot of family issues piling on, and the hospice where I volunteer is always in need of prayer shawls. One of the elderly women who knits them stopped in one day and said she was going to south for the winter, and hoped someone else would knit some. She provided me with instructions for the basic K3,P3 prayer shawl and that was the beginning of the end! I am an avid cross stitcher, and have not picked up my current project since December and the start of my knitting. Last night I finished my 5th shawl, and have all the goods next to me to star #6! I have dug around and come up with a few other versions, one I use for lap robes for men. We have a program at Hospice where we honor those who have served in the military, so I came up with a cool lap robe the men seem to like that we give them during a little ceremony we have for them. I use shades of red/white/blue, or burgundy/navy/ivory. I love my stitching, but I have to admit the knitting brings me more peace and calm that my stitching does. Since I have enough stitching supplies for my next nine lifetimes, I do need to get back at it one of these days, but honestly I am beginning to wonder if the knitting bug will ever wear off!

  • Caroline

    I have had chronic joint pain all my life. While I can control it on the upswing sometimes with diet, there are times I'm powerless to affect it. It is in every joint in my body. It hurts to breathe. It can make me sleepless for a week, just thrashing back and forth, trying to find a less painful position. It is a genetic disorder of my connective tissue, so I have mostly learned to cope and work around my limits. Mostly people see me as, and I believe I truly am, an active and strong person. Also well balanced. But genetics are genetics, for many things at this point in medical history. When the pain flares up, I have to ride it out and stay as productive as I can. And as positive as I can manage.

    I retired early to marry late (50), freed for the first time since my teens from having to be the breadwinner for others. My partner took that on. I couldn't believe how lucky I was...but I found out that my decades of career and business-owning work had kept me distracted from the pain. Yes, I wasn't really being myself--I had cobbled together a SuperHero persona, and no one knew about the pain but my nearest and dearest. Having a career is much easier than having a life and a marriage. The latter requires radical honesty; a career you can sometimes pass or fudge how you're feeling, what you're thinking.

    In my newly blessed and relaxed life, I had to face down the pain, every day, without all those distractions. I had to be real with myself and my partner. And since our marriage came within a year of a major job and career shift for my partner, it meant moving to a part of the world where we knew no one.

    In a miasm of loneliness, exhaustion, pain, and "at rope's end" feelings one day, and not wanting to be a burden with such a wonderful partner providing so much for our lives, I reached for a crochet hook and some cheap yarn I had in a box in the closet. As a child I had been taught many needleskills by my aunts, who were tradeswomen in the 1940s-1970s. I was amazed by how well crochet had stayed with me. I started crocheting a snuggle tent for a friend's pet parrot. Then I made this long wacky tunic/robe thing that a friend wept with joy when I gave her.


    That was ten years ago, and I've never stopped.

    I cannot follow written patterns, though do OK with the visual charts (Japanese style). For me it's totally free form. That is, I know a bunch of stitches, have guides to various stitch patterns, but cannot do the line-by-line-reading thing. Still, I make sweaters, vests, tons of socks, scarves, hats, mittens, goofy little inspired things, ornaments, laces, shawls, blankets...somehow they just seem to happen, and somehow when I'm in the most pain, they seem to happen the best.


    Then I give nearly all of them away. Usually anonymously. I'm shy and prefer not to be thanked. I like to know that my pain was transformed through the magic of hook and yarn into warmth and color for someone else.

  • Diana

    When my dad was hospital after a successful surgery, he ended up becoming infected with a antibiotic resistant infection. He was in ICU and on a ventilator and in an induced coma so he wouldn't work against the ventilator. We could only spend fifteen minutes every hour in his room, but I spent hours there in the waiting room. I knitted to help me calm my nerves and my mind while I prayed for his recovery. Then after we were told he wouldn't recover and I needed a break from the emotions of a death bed watch, I would find refuge in my knitting. After his death, I suffered from a deep depression and although I worked every day, in the evenings I found it difficult to do anything but knit. It took time, but ultimately I came to grips with his death and my depression eased. I don't know how I would have coped during that time without the distraction of knitting.

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2013/07/24/crochet-as-meditation/ 5 Tips on Crochet as Meditation | Lion Brand Notebook

    [...] be found in formal meditation. However, it doesn’t work for all of us. In particular, people with mental health conditions including depression and anxiety may find it too difficult to simply sit on the cushion and watch [...]

  • http://kathrynvercillo.com/2013/07/lion-brand-yarn-guest-post-crochet-as-meditation/ Lion Brand Yarn Guest Post: Crochet as Meditation | Kathryn Vercillo

    [...] found in formal meditation. However, it doesn’t work for all of us. In particular, people with mental health conditions including depression and anxiety may find it too difficult to simply sit on the cushion and watch [...]

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2013/10/03/video-the-benefits-of-knit-and-crochet/ Video: The Benefits of Knit and Crochet | Lion Brand Notebook

    […] The Therapy of Crochet and Knitting […]

  • Rocky

    I have been retired now for 3 yrs. and taught myself how to crochet watching youtube videos. I now make winter beanies and scarves for a local children's shelter. This has been an outlet for me and allowed me to focus on the positive things in life

  • Linda

    I started crocheting again after severe illness, that left me unable to work for over a year. It was the only thing I could do, and it made me feel useful. Sometimes I would crochet all day. I have given over 100 hats to the homeless and people in need. I am able to work again only part time. Now I crochet for friends and family. It's like medicine for my mind.

  • http://classic.enuz.be/babysitter-notepad-by-donovan-designs.cfm Classic Blog

    <strong>Babysitter Notepad By Donovan Designs</strong>

    [...] h to cook dinner. Fortunately, I had purchased yarn for a baby afghan the day be [...]

  • http://gmaellenscraftycorner.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/thoughts-on-meditation-and-knitting-and-crochet-therapy/ Thoughts on Meditation, and Knitting and Crochet Therapy | G-Ma Ellen's Hands – Adventures in Crochet and Knit

    […] The Therapy of Crochet and Knitting […]

  • Ellen Mackler

    Many of the stories shared here moved me to tears. My husband passed last June, just 2 1/2 weeks after we found out he had terminal cancer. Dealing with the loss has been very difficult for me. This month we would have been married 37 years. At first, I would say the first six months, I pretty much could not pick up my crocheting or knitting. At all. My heart was just not in it. But, with a little encouragement, I am feeling the love, and finding comfort in crafting. Albeit, not the way I used to. I find I need the more mind-numbing repetition of simple, small projects. Among other things, when I have no other inspiration, I knit dishcloths! By the dozen! Mindless knitting is very comforting!

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2014/05/20/10-most-important-health-benefits-of-yarncrafting/ 10 Most Important Health Benefits of Yarncrafting | Lion Brand Notebook

    […] expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. This is part one in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous […]

  • Kelly

    When I was in nursing school, I had a seizure and ended up having 2 brain surgeries. Between the surgeries and antiseizure meds, I couldn't watch TV or much of anything else without getting dizzy. Crocheting was something that came naturally to me since the age of 4, so I made 3 afghans in the time I was off school recovering. I probabaly kept me from going insane w/bordom. It has also saved me in other times where anxiety or depression could have gotten the better of me. It's a good distraction and release.

  • http://www.pcrh.net Inma Acosta

    I was born
    and raised by my mother, grandma, aunts and older sister who either sew, did
    embroidery or crochet; I was born around sawing machines, yarn, threat, scissors and needles-; however I never paid close
    attention to those activities. I went to school and prepared myself in a
    profession. I had worked for many years in my profession but I never ever
    consider crochet as an activity I could or wanted to do.



    Couple of
    years ago, that idea changed completely. I went to my hometown for a very
    special occasion and visited my family and friends in the country
    side. To my surprise, one of our family’s friend was doing and selling
    crochet accessories. I got so in love with the handmade unique accessories that I
    purchased her some. For some reason, that to this point remains as a
    mystery to me, I end up learning crochet from her! There was something
    out of the logical mind that "attracted me" to start doing crochet.
    Since then I have not stop!!



    Crochet has
    become part of my life. Crochet has given me so much joy and has help me
    to cope with many difficult situations. I practice "Crochet Therapy" every
    night to release all the day's tension and stress before I go to bed. It
    is a wonderful way to relax the body, mind and spirit!

  • Teri

    Crocheting keeps me sane! When I spend time in the hospital either visiting or staying with a friend or family member. I can't just sit with nothing to do. So to keep me from aggravating whomever I was visiting, I crochet. I can visit with them (also gives us something to talk about) and stay calm and relaxed while creating something beautiful. It is easy to set aside when I need to help with something. Each time my mom got sick or had to go through chemo, we would spend a lot of time crocheting together or if she was too tired, she would watch me and help me decide on colors and patterns. It was our special time together and even more so, when any of my nieces (her granddaughters) would join us. I also love teaching other people how to crochet.