I’m sitting on the bed. I’m holding a ball of yellow wool. It’s soft, bright. A crochet hook is gently cradled in my right hand. “Yarn over hook and pull through a loop,” says my roommate sitting next to me, wool and hook in hand too. I watch as the string of yarn turns into neat little chain stitches. I forget where I am. I forget I’m in hospital.
I’ve always loved crafting. Using creativity to turn odds and ends into something lovely brings me so much pleasure. Three years ago, during a month of intensive hospital treatment, I was introduced to crochet. The lady I shared a room with taught me the basics. When she was discharged halfway through my admission, she left me with a ball of wool and a crochet hook so I could practise the stitches I’d learnt. It turned out to be one of the most wonderful presents I’ve ever been given and she became one of my closest friends.
I’ve just completed my most recent project. It was crochet therapy watching the simple rows of beautiful colours build. I love to create my own designs, but there are times when I simply want to crochet without any taxing thought. This was one such project. It’s the ‘Cupcake Blanket’ by the very talented Lucy at Attic24, with an amazing selection of yummy colours.
I find crocheting meditative, focusing my attention on the stitches as I allow my thoughts to come and go. It appeals to the senses; the tactile nature of yarn and the texture of different stitches, and the visual pleasure of colour combinations that can reflect or influence how you feel. Creating something is incredibly fulfilling, the joy often heightened by making it for someone else (for once this blanket is for me, made from wool given to me by another special lady). Crochet can be sociable; there are lots of closet crocheters out there eager to share their makes. It can also be very personal. Crochet helps me pace activities, a vital part of managing my condition, and it gives me a happy anchor to my day, whatever else may be happening.
I know I’m not alone in finding crochet therapeutic. Kathryn Vercillo has written a whole book, ‘Crochet Saved My Life,’ on how crochet has helped her and others manage the effect of chronic illness. She even includes mindfulness exercises for crocheters alongside the personal stories she shares. She continues to research the health benefits of crochet. You can find her work online here. Of course, it’s not limited to crochet. Many of the benefits can be gained from any craft. The most important thing is to find what makes your heart sing.