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5 Women Share Personal Stories of The Healing Power of Crochet

July 13th, 2014

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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.

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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?

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  • http://funmigurumiandkidsstuff.blogspot.com/ Craftybegonia M.

    Amazing and moving stories. Glad to hear that all of them have been helped in one way or another!

  • soodee nym

    crochet has helped me find a degree of calm, esteem and dare i say it happiness. My panic attacks have reduced to a more manageable level since I began to crochet, the mind has less time to wander to dark places when counting or working out a pattern, I feel useful again, little things like being able to give gifts to friends and family or make something for myself that I could not afford to buy. The satisfaction of completing a project and seeing my creations makes me feel happy for the first time in 20+ years. Feeling part of a community of fellow crocheters helps with the loneliness and isolation agoraphobia brings. My sister bought me my first ball of yarn and hook for less than £2 nearly 3 years ago, best non dog related gift ever!! my life has colour and texture in it now where before it was nothing but grey.

  • OtakuMom2

    For me, it was stress that got me back into doing crochet. I was in a job where, although I started out like gangbusters and felt like a “rock star,” by the time they gave me this one assignment I was under a lot of pressure to do well in this position without the kind of support that I needed to do the job. I took up crochet to deal with that stress, and even though I was eventually fired from that position (and hired shortly after into a much better environment for me — the “walking on eggshells” feeling was gone), I continued to crochet to keep my stress levels down because when I work on a project I can get lost in the planning and sheer joy of seeing something completed.

  • Sandy Wiese

    I gave up smoking, I found keeping my hands busy and my thoughts on the crocheting was a great combination!! It changed my life when I watched a video and decided to make everyone slippers for Christmas…..1 pairs of slippers later I was hooked on crocheting, a room full of yarn but no cigarettes!!!! I have included a pic of my last project!!! I am inspired every day with new projects!

    • Carolyn

      Beautiful!

  • Sara @ Mamas Therapy

    Thank you for sharing all of their stories. I found myself getting back into crochet after learning at a young age when I needed to relieve my mama stress. You know the stress we all feel in everyday life, keeping up with a busy schedule, money, etc. It even inspired me to create my own blog to help inspire other mamas to find their own therapy, Mama’s Therapy. http://www.mamastherapy.com/

  • Julie Simmons

    Love these stories. I was taught to crochet granny squares many years ago by my pushy mum. But recently progressed to other styles through the wonders of Facebook groups which have now become a life line to me as l now live alone and don’t have the confidence nor money to socialise outside of work. I love planning a project and completing it so therapeutic & rewarding mentally. Without it l would think & then l’d get depressed.

  • “T”

    I crocheted during a commute to and from a high stress job. All those granny squares, made from all those little balls of yarn scraps! It was a perfect way to “bridge” the job stress and serve as a step down during the bus ride commute home. When I am down, I turn to crochet to help me focus on something positive and creative. Now that I am retired, all those granny squares wiil be joined to make afghans as gifts, or church donations.

  • Linda Knelsen

    Hi! I have had a very stressful life in terms of health, by the time my 30th anniversary was to come along, I had gone thru 32 surgical procedures for an undiagnosed bowel disease I had had symptom for since I was ten. I am now 56. My husband died of cancer just before our 30 th anniversary and that just about did me in as five weeks before he passed away, I had to have my 32 operation. It was dreadful, I was in bed recuperating after spending 13 months straight in two different hospital one seven hours away from my family. That last operation , I thought I was done but I survived and was sent home with a nurse because my husband was in bed dieing of cancer and here I was recouping. Pancreatic cancer is nothing to laugh at. Tho we had many sweet talks and planned his funeral, we still had our wonderful communication times every night and when I was sure the whole house was asleep I would go to the farthest corner of our house and cry till I could not cry anymore. I was only 50 and too young to be a widow and my kids still needed there Dad and I did also. I was only out of the last serious surgery four weeks when he died and my surgery involved an Ileostomy…the bag as everyone refers to it. After about the first two years I had also had to put down two of my three puppies and that just about did me in. One day I was cleaning out drawers and came across my crochet hooks that I thought I had lost forever and there was wool there also. So I hauled them out and sat in the living room and made another of many squares to create a blanket for my mom. I just keep right on crocheting. It calms my nerves and settles my heart and give me time to thank God as to how we all survived those two years after and the year and a half before he died. I find it restful and creative and I am always proud of being able to send a blanket off to someone who liked to sit and read a book alone at night or just to watch TV when ever. I get such joy from it. This August will be five years since my man was relocated to heaven and for some reason, people keep giving me wool so I just keep on crocheting. It is a gift to keep and one you never forget and on my widows salary and because of a bad blow to the head last August, I am sealing with a head injury called Post Traumatic Concussion and I have ciesures and headaches from hell like you would not believe so I also receive a small disability check but I live on less then 900.00 a month. There are gift giving wool angels out there and they help a lot. The headaches are less when I crochet and the peace is becoming more and more frequent. Thank you to my home economics teacher for teaching me how to crochet.

    • Petrina

      That is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • mel

    great stories, working with my hands calms me and I love creating something beautiful,if I could not crochet I would be very sad

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