Saturday, February 28, 2009

Crochet as Therapy

Actually, the title should be as *insert craft name here *therapy, shouldn’t it? The principles apply to any craft or hobby you do that gives you pleasure and takes you away from stress and tension. I know much has been said about this from both a medical and psychological viewpoint, but as is my right as a Blogger, I’m putting my 2 cents worth in!

When my marriage ended in 1998 I moved myself and the children to Perth, Western Australia. I had never lived there before, having spent most of my life in Canberra, some 3000 miles east. When I look back on it, it was a pretty bold move, but at the time that was my only option.

For most of the next year I spent many hours crocheting rugs. It felt like a bit of an obsession, from deciding on the colours, to which squares to use, to which brand of wool. That very much depended on the budget, which was almost non-existent, so acrylic invariably won the day.

Apart from being able to give the kids some warm blankets, it gave me time to clear my mind of much of the negativity that was swirling around my head. I think I was suffering from depression, which I was later diagnosed with, but at the time I just expected to feel empty and worn out. Looking back I can recognise other symptoms, like not wanting to leave the house/answer the phone/engage with people. I am much more aware of the symptoms now and am managing them better.

I had another period of intensive crafting a couple of years later. My father was dying and I couldn’t be with him, as he was still in Canberra. I wasn’t working at that time, due to the ratbaggery of my children’s behaviour. I needed to be on hand to make sure they got to school every day and then came home once in a while! I was more into Cross Stitch at that time, and I made many lovely pictures for anyone who wanted one. I mainly made small items, as it gave me a sense of achievement.

I still have a couple of the crochet rugs I made all those years ago. When I look at them now I can see where I could have done a better job, especially weaving in the ends. I have tried sewing them in and crocheting them in but little endy bits still tend to wiggle out from time to time. I won’t say I’ve cracked how to stop that from happening, but I’ve found that when I sew the ends in firmly, going back and forth several times over a few centimetres, the ends stay put. This is all good for small items, but a big-a***d blanket is a pain! I try to set aside a non-hook night once in a while to do these housekeeping tasks. If anyone reading this has their own method of fixing ends, feel free to add your comments…all are welcome. I have tried crocheting them in, sewing them in, just cutting them off…

I am now back into the crochet obsession space! This time, I am concentrating on hats, bags, scarves and the occasional rug. Again, being able to make a hat in a couple of hours is hugely satisfying. I am also selling some of my hats so I’m trying to keep a bit of a supply handy. I only sell online at the moment, on OZTION, which is an Australian auction site. I’m not keen on selling at markets but I’m happy to make something for friends, family. My daughter wears some of my work and has had some interest from her workmates, so that could be another source of extra cash. The nice part of my current activity is that I am doing it as much for pure enjoyment as much as stress relief and I can identify it as just that...a nice feeling.

When I put all this into perspective, I can see 2 angles to all this mad crocheting. Yes, there is the therapy...when I am feeling lost and not so clever in real life, I immerse myself in the colour matching, pattern browsing and creative process. It allows me to free my mind from the stresses that are always around me and to focus on one thing instead of the flurry of thoughts that are usually present.

It also lets me just admire something that is beautiful and that was my creation. Not a lot beats that.

Here is a pic of my eldest granddaughter Zoe wearing her beret, barray as she calls it! She has been asking me to make one for a while and I finally got around to it yesterday, during her and her sister's weekly sleepover at Grandma's house. When I put it on her she had a bit of a grump. It turns out she wasn't keen on the colour, and would have preferred a green version! So, when she pops round today she can take delivery of her little green barray!


  1. Irelated to this post about crochet therapy. I have lupus along with IC and at times the pain can be intense and crocheting and blogging keep me active and positive. I a homebound alot so I am grateful that I have something that I love to do. Today I worked on my latest project an Afghan.

    I love Zoe's's lovely; and she looks absolutely beautiful in her beret.!

  2. Hi Gloria
    Doesn't she just? I gave her the green one as promised and her 3yo sister ended up with the pink one...2yo boy has his own camouflage ear flap hat!
    I personally find crochet great for my depression. It puts me in a "zone" where I can clear my mind and being able to look at the finished products gives me a sense of pride.
    I'm not sure if you have your own blog..I haven't been blogging for long so still getting used to it. If you have one I will flag it so we can keep in touch.