For my birthday Joe got me a 2 day intermediate crochet course. I just completed it over the weekend and had such a fantastic time I felt it deserved a post.
I have been crocheting for about 8 years now. My friend over at Curious Little Teapot showed me how to do a single crochet and from then on I was hooked (literally!). I was never much good at knitting. Stitches were dropped more often than England dropped the ball in the Rugby World Cup and I had no idea how to correct my mistakes. But then came crochet. It is such a forgiving art as you can easy add in a couple on extra stitches wherever you want if you find yourself a bit short. Mistakes are far less obvious. And then it’s great because it grows so quickly. I like to see progress for all the time I invest.
The first thing I made was a kingsize bed throw in luxurious Debbie Bliss yarn. It’s not the prettiest thing but I do love it. It’s so warm and cosy and now lives in our living room.
Then I made a zigzag blanket for a future child. I learnt the stitches from a book and it took about 2 years to complete. Now that blanket lives in Ezra’s cot. I also made a lilac and cream blanket which Violet used as a baby.
Next came a couple of gift projects…and blanket for my cousin’s new baby and another for my niece.
Last year I caught the crochet bug pretty bad when I joined a particular Facebook group. Yarn was being delivered every couple of weeks and I had great fun making little hats for Violet. While I was pregnant I made a blanket for my soon to be baby boy. It was probably the first project where I had felt a huge emotional attachment to what I was making. Once it was finished I started a Crochet A-Long (CAL). I learnt so many new stitches and loved the clear step-by-step instructions. I was so pleased with the finished product and gifted the blanket to my sister-in-law who was expecting her third child.
Along came Ezra and time to sit and crochet went out the window again!
I am self taught and trawl youtube for good tutorials but I really wanted some formal lessons. Joe got me the perfect birthday present. I attended the class at Morley College in Lambeth with my cousin. The tutor was called Katie and she has her own sustainably crafted knitwear label. She brought along lots of her own creations for us to look at plus numerous pattern booked. We were given a particular stitch to try and master and then to incorporate it into a swatch.
The class was much more than somewhere for me to learn new stitches. It was somewhere away from home and my responsibilities where I could do something for ME. As much as my family is my life and I love them more than I can explain, I do need time away. This was just the tonic. I got to sit and relax, natter about Strictly and focus my mind on just one single thing; learning the latest new stitch! I felt so restored after each class and came home with new energy.
Research suggests there are many health benefits to knit and stitch crafts. 10 years ago when I was awkwardly wielding two knitting needles and getting nowhere I would have said the only thing I was experiencing was frustration. However since taking up crochet I can definitely say it has been a mainstay for improving my mental health. Here are some of the benefits I have found online.
- Knitting and crochet relieves some symptoms of depression. The repetitive nature of the stitches releases serotonin into the body which is a natural anti-depressant.
- Counting stitches has shown to help relieve anxiety. In social situations, just sitting and concentrating on stitches can go towards relieving anxiety and keeping hands busy. It bring peace and calm to the mind.
- Simply seeing your project grow is enough to bring about an enormous boost to the self-esteem. It’s a real confidence boost to finish a project and look at all the effort it has taken to produce.
- There is some suggestion that yarncraft can help postpone dementia. And it can also be very soothing for people who are already showing the early signs of age-related memory-loss.
- Yarncraft can help build communities. Through a shared skill you can be wholeheartedly accepted in online, local and family craft communities. When my lovely Nan was still with us she would talk to me about my crochet. She was a knitter and was interested in me taking up crochet. Now my cousin has started crocheting (she is really very good!) and it’s lovely to think we will have a shared interest and extra reason to stay in touch.
I have started taking my crochet with me for my work commute. I get 20 minutes to just relax my mind and concentrate on the next stitch. I almost find myself wishing the train journey was a little longer (notice I said almost).
So this is why I crochet. To make lovely creations, to give friends and family handmade gifts and to help keep my mind healthy.
Do you do any yarncraft? Are you self-taught or did your granny show you? Do you think it helps your mental health? Let me know!