Let’s take a breath from the political, sociological, philosophical debates and focus on a less controversial subject: why you should pick up crocheting.
Despite historical tendencies, crocheting is not only for ladies and not only for old age. This trendy art is only gaining in popularity and prestige. You can do it alone or you can do it as a family, you can do it inside or on the go. You can use it to make holiday presents, sell some as a side-hustle, or simply use it to entertain yourself.
It’s likely that when the pandemic took hold in 2020, you toyed with some new (or long-forgotten) hobbies. Perhaps you joined America in baking sourdough bread and building toilet paper forts with your kids.
Now, maybe you’re all burned out and sick of being inside, convinced that you need to party and blow off some steam. Or you could be on the other end of the spectrum, feeling nervous and content to remain in the comfort of quarantine. Regardless of how you’re feeling, crocheting offers something great for everyone.
The crux of my argument here is that crochet is a joyful, accessible activity and we all need much more joy and ease right now. Currently, the most popular tv shows and books are those that are sincere and uplifting. But we can’t exclusively escape and ignore our world. We need to find ways to integrate physical activities into our routines- that is, physical activities that bring the same good feelings as watching our favorite comedies.
Many people are talking about the pandemic as if it is over. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a passionate optimist. So I do believe we can come out of this and when we do we’ll be stronger, healthier, more empathetic and aware than before. But I don’t think we’re there yet. We are failing to acknowledge how gentle we still need to be with ourselves and with others. I think we need to continue to foster safe, solitary, supportive refuges for ourselves. So I’m advocating for you to prioritize self-care and to consider crocheting as a means to do so. From my own personal experience, here are my 13 reasons why:
- Crocheting decreases stress. It’s relaxing and it has low stakes. You follow a pattern or lead your own designs as much as you want (there is even such a thing as improvisational or freeform crocheting- aka, no such thing as the “wrong” way to do it!). Crocheting makes it very easy to fix mistakes (plus, sometimes the mistakes turn out more interesting than the original plan; like all great art, there is beauty to be found in discovery and experimentation). It is also not an expensive hobby to begin. All you need is a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. That’s it.
- Crocheting relieves anxiety. It gives you something external and positive to focus on, taking you out of your mind and back into your body. It gives you the feeling of being completely in control. The sensation of silky-soft yarn winding around your hands has the same calming sensation as petting a sweet, comfy creature.
- Crocheting can fight insomnia. It’s easy, soothing, and repetitive. It engages the brain just enough to distract you from whatever is keeping you awake, but not so much that it wakes you up more. It is great for lulling yourself to sleep and creating something/being productive in the meantime.
- Crocheting fights depression. It supports your self esteem and confidence through your creativity. It can pull you out of your own issues and emotions by giving you a way to make a gift for someone else who needs it.
- Crocheting lowers blood pressure. It is activity that is good for your heart.
- Crocheting increases dexterity. It exercises your finger muscles, encouraging nimbleness and flexibility, building stability through movement and repetition.
- Crocheting minimizes and delays memory loss. It stimulates your senses and your mind. It has been shown by research at The Mayo Clinic to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s between 30-50%. From reading patterns to discussing life while crocheting with friends, you can preserve and protect your brain health, building new thought patterns and strengthening existing ones.
- Crocheting gives you purpose. It inspires a sense of accomplishment through creation of something that didn’t exist before you made it. It brings a sense of pride from learning something new, connecting you to an art form that has a long and positive human history.
- Crocheting combats loneliness. Local yarn shops are known for hosting groups and casual clubs where all are welcome to bring their latest project and chat or just enjoy the happy surroundings. The world-wide crocheting community offers accountability, friendship, and support, not unlike unofficial group therapy.
- Crocheting is a form of meditation. Its artistry encourages a profound mind-body connection. The repetitive motion can help you focus and then allow you to get lost in thought.
- Crocheting can help you lose weight. If you’re sitting around a lot, this is a better health alternative to snacking. Next time, reach for your yarn instead of your candy and you’ll find dropping the extra pandemic pounds much simpler and faster.
- Crocheting can make you better at math. It’s like sneaking extra veggies into your pasta sauce- without even knowing it, you’ll be counting and multiplying and playing with geometry!
- Crocheting is minimalist and travel-friendly. Compared to other crafts and hobbies, it takes up very little space in your home and is extremely mobile. Crochet is fun to carry around and journey with: it’s lighter on your back than books are, it’s allowed on airplanes, and it doesn’t bend or break easily if it gets knocked around in transit.
A side note about other yarn crafts: I know I said that we were stepping away from controversy, but in fact, a hot-button-topic has still found us. Knitting and crocheting are frequently confused or combined by those who do not know the difference. However, they are very different crafts. Crocheting is the kind that uses only one needle, which has a little hook on the end. You can remember this easily because crocheting is number one. It’s the best. Knitting uses two needles- sometimes connected- which you can recall because knitting is secondary in awesomeness to crocheting. Simple, right? (Sorry Aunt Debbie, you do make the most beautiful knitted sweaters in the whole world! But in everything except sweaters, crochet is superior. I’m sure everyone agrees with me- except Aunt Debbie. This is definitely not an argument that has been going on since the beginning of time or anything…)
Truthfully, a lot of my 13 points above can be applied to knitting as well as to crochet. How much or how little is primarily dependent on your personal preferences. Most crafters either strongly prefer knitting or crocheting, even while being able to do both.
Whether or not I convinced you to take up the crochet cause, I do sincerely hope I at least inspired you to try something new in the upcoming months. It doesn’t have to be big, difficult or flashy. But please find something that gives you pleasure and helps you relax. You deserve it. May the calming force of the crochet hook be with you, always.