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 2 in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Last month we explored the top ten health benefits of yarncrafting. Many of you chimed in with great comments about how crochet and knitting have helped you to heal from a variety of different ailments. Want to get more intentional about that? This five-step guide will help you create your own yarncrafting wellness plan.
What are the specific symptoms that you want to reduce in your life? Some of the most common health symptoms that people seek to resolve through crafting are:
Knitting and crochet can help with each of these things. For example, it can be a distraction that reduces physical pain and helps control diet cravings and it can provide relaxation to reduce stress-related headaches and irritability. However, not every symptom will apply to you so think about what you really want to solve. It’s a lot easier to get healthy when you know what specific ailments you’re trying to reduce.
Make a list of all of the ways that crochet and knitting can help with each of the ailments on your list. You can do some research to find the scientific answers or just use what you already know from experience. Some of the most common ways that crafting helps with symptoms include:
When you see the direct benefits of the craft for your symptoms, it’s easier to find the right projects and commit to a clear yarncrafting wellness plan. For example, if you want to reap the neuroprotective benefits of knitting to avoid age-related memory loss then you’ll want to consistently try new patterns and techniques and work on complicated projects. In contrast, if you’re seeking the peacefulness of prayer crafting then you may focus on making a daily practice of a repetitive pattern like a granny-square crochet project. With this in mind, put together a journal of patterns and craft ideas that you can turn to for inspiration throughout the year. You may do this in a physical notebook or using an online tool like Ravelry or Pinterest.
It’s important to anticipate the types of things that can get in the way of your yarncrafting wellness plan. Some common barriers:
• Time constraints
• Physical hand pain
• Lack of yarn resources
• Procrastination problems
• Overwhelming disorganized stash
• Negative comments from others
What is your biggest barrier to crafting? Make a “plan B” to deal with any barriers that you think could pose a problem for you. For example, free up your schedule by dropping an unwanted commitment if you anticipate not having enough time to craft daily. Or if you have hand pain, look into hand exercises and ergonomic craft tools.
Now you know exactly what you want to get out of crafting, how you plan to get it and what projects you’ll do as part of your plan. It’s time to make the commitment. Figure out when your planned crafting time it is, write it on your calendar and don’t let anything get in the way of your wellness. It can help if you come up with a related affirmation to say daily, such as “I crochet every day because it helps boost my mood and relieves feelings of depression that can hinder so many areas of my life. I do this for myself and for those around me.”
Bonus tip: It’s a great idea to keep a short craft journal to help you track the success of your yarncrafting plan. At the end of each craft session, write down what you did and how it helped you along with any additional ideas you have for boosting your health with yarncrafting.
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I brought my crochet project with me to the car dealership and worked on it for 2 hours while I waited for the work to be done. Coupled with some online videos for a class I am taking, the time flew by and I was relaxed and productive. So what if people think I am weird to bring my crochet in public, at least I am creating something for someone else and not just texting for face booking.
I think it’s wonderful that you bring your crochet with you to places like that to pass the time!
I think it’s great that you brought it with you. It helps bring exposure to the craft, and exactly as you said, who cares what other people think? People judge everyone all the time, but it’s what YOU think that really matters. You go, ma’am, and keep up the great work!
Crochet is my “brain keeper”. It keeps me off the anxiety treadmill, helps me focus on something other than my computer or the television and gives me such a boost when I can see the project coming together. My memory is like a colander so working something new and complicated challenges it every day and relative to self-worth? Nothing beats seeing the smiles when my projects become gifts for my loved ones.
i am having chemotherapy so I bring a small project with me. I don’t have much energy a few days after each treatment so I find this is a great time to knit or crochet. i make wash clothes ahead of time for small gifts or work on some complicated lace project to keep my mind engaged.
The health benefits of a knitting group are immeasurable. I love the gals in my knitting group – we are such a wide variety of personalities – and knitting brings us together. I can’t wait until Wednesdays come around to see the gals and to share what we are working on – and all the stories and things we tell each other. I have been thinking of making a documentary of knitting groups from all over the country (possibly the world) to show the variety of groups there are for people in which knitting brings them together.
Oh , Please make a documentary! Would love love , love it.
My mom is 100 years old and in an assisted-living facility. Sometimes relating to her well is really a challenge, as she is by nature negative and judgmental. Crocheting is my “sanity” crutch, and I’m so grateful. I mostly crochet prayer shawls and lapghans for veterans. If anyone is looking for a charity crochet project, I’m told at the VA hospital that the lapghans literally “fly off the shelves.” Sometimes they are even given to family members to comfort them.
Shunny, what are the dimensions needed for the lapghans for the VA hospital. I would like to make some for my local VA.Thanks, Kathy
Kathy, check out the charity group Soldiers Angels. They have a craft/sewing division you can connect with.
I always have a knitting project with me. If I am at a lecture I speak with the presenter first, so that I do not appear rude.
Existe libro en espaÃ±ol?
I just did your survey on Moogly this morning. I forgot to add that another way crochet helps me is that I make things like leg warmers, wristers, and shawls to keep warm, as the cold is a trigger
for the neuropathy from the pernicious anemia.
I always have crocheting with me at the car dealership, doctor, bowling, you name it.
One thing can always be guaranteed. There is a bag packed with Kindle, journal and pen, and a crochet project, that leaves the house with me everyday. I like to have a choice. There is a portable project going, plus at home a shawl or afghan. Of course, at home I have to decide on quilting or crocheting 😉
I agree with Margaret….so what if someone things we are odd for knitting or crocheting out somewhere. Being able to be creative is a gift. It takes special skills, and yes, it does build confidence. This is better than mindless video games that create nothing!
My knitting groups give me a reason to get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and leave the house. My husband is very supportive of my going to groups, too, because I’m so much happier and way less depressed. I don’t often get much knitting done because I’m too distracted by conversation. LOL! Having other women who not only share my yarn love but also many of my other interests has been incredibly beneficial. I sleep better and deeper, I’m less stressed and anxious, and I have interesting things to talk about with my husband when I get home. I am so grateful to have such wonderful women in my life!
Carol Nickerson Suffecool
That is so good. And it sounds like you have a wonderful husband, too!
I CANNOT believe anyone would think a person was “weird” if they brought any sewing project – knitting, crocheting, counted cross stitch, etc. – in public. It’s obvious that the person working on a project is industrious and obviously and productive in not wasting their time. I’ve never worried about what someone else has thought! In fact, my “project” has usually started conversations and countless friendships in sharing ideas, teaching someone a new crochet or knitting stitch or even bouncing off ideas of future projects. Any hands on project brings peace to the crafter and certainly creates a calming atmosphere. The old saying is true – “If Mom’s happy – everyone’s happy!” Don ‘t bother something if it’s not broken! Long live crafty projects!!! Everyone benefits!!!!
As a beginner “leftie” is there any difference crocheting as a “leftie” and a right handed person. Do I follow instructions the same? Thank you!!
I do enjoy my crocheting, after a death in my family, I found it to be a helpful relaxer. Thanks
Ellison Kurt Moore
My wife is the needle arts expert in the family but we both have our own types of crafts. The article kept referring to knitting and crocheting but actually it is a very good article on the benefits of crafting in general. I’m forwarding it to my fellow disabled Veterans as something to help them deal with their issues from the war.