When I picked up a crochet hook 8 years ago it was with the simple intention of recreating an overpriced granny square blanket I had seen in a shop! I was amazed at how quickly my hands remembered the movements my gran had shown me when I was only 6 years old. She patiently passed her knitting and crochet skills onto me one school summer holiday during which I remember producing a pair of fingerless gloves and went on to knit a Dennis the Menace jumper!
I thank my beautiful nan every day in my buddhist prayers for this most wonderful of gifts and each time I pick up my hook I feel connected to her spirit which lives on in me.
Now 40 years later I am an obsessive crocheter preferring the instant gratification of creating small works of beauty in the form of colourful circles and squares over the lengthy process of knitting jumpers that I invariably never wear!
Crochet is so forgiving. Make a mistake and with just one loop on the hook it takes no time at all to pull it out and correct. It takes 30 minutes to master the treble stitch (US double crochet) and to begin our granny square journey. And as we embark on this new found love we begin to experience the additional benefits of crochet. Our hands and minds fuse to create not only a thing of beauty but also a more relaxed state of mind. I call it my happy place but actually there is research to suggest that the repetitious hand movements of crochet and knitting releases seratonin in the brain that is a natural anti-depressant.
Author and blogger Kathryn Vercillo's book Crochet saved my Life explores in detail the health benefits of knitting and crochet and demonstrates what anecdotal evidence has been saying for decades. Yarn craft reduces anxiety, soothes depression and calms the mind.
AND we end up with a pretty thing!
I can't crochet because ...
I'm left handed...
I regularly teach crochet to beginners and often hear people say they can't crochet because they are left handed. This just isn't true! Anyone can crochet. The only thing with being left handed that can cause a minor problem is simply that most YouTube crochet tutorials and step by step instructions are shown as right handed so it's a hurdle the left handed people need to jump but with the right tuition and encouragement it's very easily achieved.
I'm a knitter...
If you can knit you can crochet! The secret is to not get hung up by how you hold your yarn and hook. In my classes anything goes! Lot's of knitters hold there yarn in their hook hand and the results are just the same.
My mum, friend, sister tried to teach me but I just couldn't do it....
Lot's of people are put off crochet after an unsuccessful attempt to learn in the past but I promise, with the right teacher and the desire to learn you absolutely can crochet.
The reason granny squares are so good to learn is that once you've cracked it you can go on and on making large squares that allow your body to embed the movement into your muscle memory. It's like learning to ride a bike and once you've practiced on a few squares the rhythmical movement becomes second nature and you soon find you are doing it without even thinking. And that's the trick! Keep going until boredom sets in. Once this happens your desire to extend your crochet skills drives you on to find new stitches and patterns and with the muscle memory now fully embedded it's simply a matter of practice makes perfect.
The internet is packed full to bursting with fabulous blogs and free tutorials. Just one note of caution to the novice beginners.....America uses different crochet terms to the UK. The stitches are exactly the same but we call them by a different name so if you find yourself getting tangled up in an on line tutorial just check the origin and make sure you are following a tutorial that uses the same terms you were taught with. It's easy to convert but not if you are new to crochet. For the UK folk I suggest you check out Attic24 as she has some great, easy to follow patterns
Join a local knitting and crochet group and you will find no end of like minded people willing and able to share their skills and knowledge with you. These groups build community and feed the soul. I started a crochet group two years ago when I was asked to create Baths largest yarn bomb. We now meet regularly, once a month at Carluccio's restaurant in Bath's Milsom Place.
These crochet sessions are so much more than just crafting. They facilitate friendships, cure loneliness and create an opportunity for people to commit altruistic acts of kindness through making things that can be given to people in need. This act alone gives us a sense of purpose and expands our capacity for compassion making the world a better, kinder place in the process.
Crochet, knitting and yarn craft in general is so much more than simply making pretty blankets! It feeds the soul, mends the mind and makes the world a better place.