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Published on May 8th, 2017 | by Merion

38 comments

Crochet Therapy for Mental Health

Craft is a gentle healer for so many health issues, from chronic pain to crippling anxiety. Read more about how crochet can benefit your mental health…

hands crocheting

Crocheters will not be surprised to learn that crochet is good for your mental health. It can carry us through depression, it can calm anxiety – and it can bring us out of isolation. The gentle curve the hook, the challenge of a new stitch, or the pulse of a regular row in a blanket can absorb hours of worry, and soothe the bleakness of the black dog.

Mental health, for many, is a difficult subject to talk about. It’s not like having a visible illness, or an injury – it’s a silent disease inside that can be excruciating and lonely. If you suffer from mental health issues, crochet could help you to manage the day-to-day battles. The gentle repetition of stitches is said to stimulate the production of serotonin, that essential chemical in the brain to help us feel better, and the simple act of choosing colours can help us to feel soothed as well as be a decision-making task that might be a big victory in a difficult day.

Texture in our hands – whether it is chunky, super chunky or DK yarn, wool, acrylic or silk – just feeling the threads of yarn through our fingers lifts the senses, and having a go-to project brings a sense of purpose and achievement every day.

A crochet group can be a lifeline, and thanks to modern technology, it doesn’t have to involve meeting up with people in person. Online communities on platforms like Facebook and Instagram have crochet groups where crafters can open up about how they’re feeling, discuss their worries alongside their yarn colour choices – crocheters are the kindest of people, and so likely to want to listen and help.

If you don’t want to crochet for yourself, there are plenty of charities that would love your help, whether making blankets and toys for the very young or very old, hats and scarves, or even blankets for animals in shelters. Crochet is needed everywhere in the world!

Make a mood blanket

A quick search online reveals zillions of mood blankets, a project designed to reflect how you feel every day. They can be as simple or complex as you like – simple rows of half trebles (half double crochet in the US) produce a beautiful swathe of colour, but you could make a ripple blanket, a granny stripe, or something more complex like a sampler blanket trying out different stitches.  The concept is the same – begin your project and let the benefit of a gentle row of stitches help you every day. All you need to do is choose colours, and start crocheting – back and forth, working one or two rows every day or whenever you feel you need to, selecting a colour that reflects your mood or how you feel.

Granny stripe blanket

Granny stripe blanket

Choosing colours to reflect your feelings can be done in a variety of ways.  You can find a key online – and there are so many colour wheels and charts that show different colours for different spectrums of feelings, but one crocheter’s diamonds are another crocheter’s stones – you might prefer to choose your own colours to reflect how you feel.  It might be that pinks and purples make you happy, or perhaps greys and blues are your colours of sadness. Perhaps yellows and oranges are reflective of your more anxious feelings, and reds for anger. Choose a palette that works for you, and work those stripes or motifs – some people prefer to do this with granny squares, or hexagons – whenever you feel the need to, every day.  The resulting blanket (or blankets) are testament to your journey.

mood blanket

A granny square mood blanket

You can read much more about crochet as therapy by fabulous Kathryn Vercillo, who wrote the books, “Crochet Saved my Life” and “Hook to Heal”.  Her blog, Crochetconcupscience has a page full of articles about how crochet can help – and her site is full of inspiration and beautiful patterns.

Has crochet helped you with mental health issues? We’d love to hear about it – please do share your stories in the comments section below…

The feature image above is of crocheted mohair flowers, pattern by Laura Dovile.

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About the Author

Merion dreams in colour and adores crochet! From glorious granny blankets to ethereal shawls and lace cardies, she's never very far from her hooks! She loves cake, knitting, heavy horses, books and Mozart. Her favourite colour is duck egg blue.




38 Responses to Crochet Therapy for Mental Health

  1. Pam says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I use to crochet 20 yrs ago but I in 2004 I went through a very difficult divorce and quit crocheting.

    Now here in 2017 I find myself crocheting again. I am unemployed and my husband works long hours and doesn’t get to spend very much time with me so my depression set in really bad. I have started crocheting again and it brightens my day and help’s break any dark mood’s that I may have.

    Thank you for all the the helpful suggestions, you just made my day 😀

    • Merion says:

      Hi Pam! I am so glad to hear that your crochet is helping you feel brighter – it’s a really magical craft! I always find colour cheers me up too – thank you so much for sharing your story with us,
      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

      • Ness says:

        I’ve been reading the comments and crochet has helped me amencely this last year ,anxiety,chronic pain and mental health .Thank you Ness x

  2. Linda Koski says:

    This type of activity is the foundation of Occupational Therapy. Unfortunately due to insurance regulations OT’s are not able to spend as much time working with crafts that meet patients goals and needs, both physical and mental. Repetitive motion is soothing to the mind and reduces stress. Thanks for the article.

    • Merion says:

      Hi Linda!

      We love the fact that crochet helps your patients – how disappointing that you’re not supported enough to be able to spend more time. Crochet definitely helps with stress!

      Thank you so much for telling us about it,
      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  3. Kelly Liddle says:

    Crochet over the past 12 months has helped me after the death of my Mum in June 2016, it brought me out of a very dark place and it gives me the time to reflect with a smile & gives me that confidence & strength that you muster to get through a day. I’m a much more calm and at ease now, if it wasn’t for crochet I don’t know what I’d of done or how I’d be feeling today. My mum loved that I’d learned to crochet and I intend to always have a hook in my hand at every opportunity!

    • Merion says:

      Hi Kelly – it’s wonderful to hear that crochet helped you after the death of your Mum, it must have been terribly hard to cope with such a huge loss. Hopefully crochet will always remind you of how much your mum loved you crocheting!

      Thank you for sharing your story with us,
      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

  4. Thanks so much for mentioning my work and for sharing the health benefits of crochet with others! Great post.

    • Merion says:

      Hi Kathryn! I’m so glad you’ve seen the post! I’ve sent you a Facebook message! Kindest, Merion xx

  5. Misa says:

    I’m 24 years old and I started to crochet 5 years ago. I don’t know the technical terms, nor do I know how to read a crochet pattern, but I know the basic stiches. I start doing it because I’ve suffer from anxiety and panic attacks at a young age, and I realized that crochet helped me to calm my anxious mind! Nowadays, when I start to feel a little blue, I grab my crochet hooks to soothe my mind, and it works wonders!

    • Merion says:

      Hello Misa! You are clearly a very talented crocheter! We’re thrilled to hear that crochet helps you with your anxiety and panic attacks – it certainly is a very good way to calm yourself when anxiety is racing, which is such an awful feeling.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and keep crocheting!
      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

  6. cait says:

    I used crochet as part of my final year project at art school. I found sitting around crocheting was always a good way to calm my anxiety, so I explored the connection between crochet and mental health. It’s good for people to know that this is an option! You can take your mind off things and achieve something.

    • Merion says:

      Hi Cait,

      I wish they would teach crochet in school right from the beginning (and knitting) to give students a chance to learn such a valuable skill! How lovely that you still love it today!

      Thank you so much for sharing your story!
      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

  7. Lucy Wynne says:

    I suffer with many physical health issues and terrible depression, I live with and happily share a body and life with an internal community (diagnosed as DID, but we are a Survival System not a disorder).
    I’ve crocheted since I was 10 yrs old, 50 yrs ago 🙂 I have always found this craft medium to be of enormous help. As mentioned the feel of yarn in my hands, the soothing stitches and the challenge of new ones. I like that I can gift my work or keep it, it can be as small as a “gratitude/worry stone” or as big as a blanket.
    I always have a yarn and hook in my bag, then no matter where I am I can begin crochet and be soothed instantly.
    I do pottery too and while it’s not as portable it also helps to see something I have made no matter how bleak I was feeling at the time.

    • Merion says:

      Hello Lucy! How lovely that crochet and pottery are such soothing crafts to help you cope with your health issues and depression – I too absolutely love the feel of yarn in my hands, and I love the way colour can lift me too. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it’s great to know that you’ve loved crochet from when you were 10 years old and still do!

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

  8. Crochet helped me through a long recuperation three years ago, and I have not been able to stop since!
    https://iamsimplyhooked.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-healing-power-of-crochet/

    • Merion says:

      Hello Iamsimplyhooked!

      We love our stitches and hooks too, and we just can’t get enough crochet! Crochet is such a lovely gentle craft to help work through recovery – thank you so much for sharing!

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

  9. Maggie says:

    In 2008 I was diagnosed with Melanoma. It wasn’t from a mole. It was a lesion on my left arm that wouldn’t heal. It was itchy and bled a bit. It was less than a millimetre into my skin. My surgeon removed it and thought that the end of it.

    12 months later I felt a lump under my arm. I thought it was breast cancer. My GP ordered a biopsy and it was confirmed as Melanoma. It had spread to my lymph nodes. I was now diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma.

    2 weeks later I was in hospital having all of the lymph nodes under my left removed. A total of 19 nodes were removed and the cancer was contained in one of the 19 nodes.

    I was then looking down a barrel of 5 weeks of radiation therapy.

    During this time if I didn’t crochet I would’ve ended up in a puddle of tears each day. Crochet gave me a place I could escape too and not have to think about cancer.

    After recent PET & CAT scans my surgeon found several things on the scan that she isn’t sure what it is. She was unable to get any tissue for a biopsy. It’s a pretty big operation. I now have to have another round of scans in July.

    Once I got home I escaped to my happy crochet place. It’s been my saviour. It’s kept me from sinking to a place that I’m not sure I could’ve come back from.

    No matter what life throws at me I’ve always got my crochet.

    • Merion says:

      Dear Maggie, you must have been absolutely terrified, and we’re so glad to hear that crochet was able to help you go through this very difficult time. We’re sending our warmest thoughts to you, and hope that your health is improving.

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team xx

    • Jeanette Dawson says:

      Hi Maggie. I’m so sorry you are having such a rough time.
      I hope your scans in July provide answers.
      In the meantime it’s wonderful that you have such a relaxing hobby to take your mind off your problems.
      I suffer from terrible anxiety, but crochet helps to allay it somewhat. I also find that helping others makes me feel better and gives my mind a distraction.
      If you would like to access upbuilding reading material, please feel free to go on jw.org and look up answers to any number of life questions you may have.
      There is no obligation, and its totally free of charge, and just by finding out what good things our creator has in store for us, can lift our heart immensely.
      I’m sending hugs and kindest regards, Jenny

  10. yescrochet says:

    Crochet has helped me out of depression and anxiety, definitely. Repetitive activity resulting in nice soft colourful beautiful things! What could be better?

    • Merion says:

      Hello yes crochet!

      We quite agree – creating something beautiful in gorgeous colours makes a huge difference when you’re feeling really low. Take care, and sending our best wishes

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  11. Lee says:

    Great article! Is there a link available for the beautiful mohair flowers at the top of the page?

  12. Hillary says:

    Thank you so much for this article! Crochet has always been an outlet for me, even before I knew I was using it as therapy. I suffer from depression and have recently been diagnosed with anxiety (which explains SO much). My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was a little girl, but I didn’t do it for very long. Right before she died she crocheted me a scarf and left it for me. I was inspired to start crocheting again so that I could remain close to her even though she was gone. I have been crocheting for 8 years now and I feel that it helps me keep her memory alive. When I am extremely stressed or anxious I can pick up a project and instantly find peace in the repetitive stitches and creating something beautiful. I hope this article helps others the way it helped me. Thank you again!

    • Merion says:

      Dear Hillary,

      Our grandmothers were absolutely amazing ladies – they had so many fabulous skills to pass on and they knew how therapeutic and important those skills are! I am so glad to hear that you have found your way back to crochet, and that it helps you – anxiety can be such a very traumatic condition, and soothing stitches do help very much. Sending you our best wishes for lots of fun crochet to help!

      Kindest
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  13. Ray says:

    I’m a combat veteran with PTSD. For about 10 years after coming home from Iraq, I was in denial. I didn’t and couldn’t accept that i was no longer the same man as iI was before I left. Just over 3 years ago my brother’s wife was crocheting and I asked her to teach me. I was instantly hooked. When i would get angry, i would start to crochet. After about 3 months i finished my first blanket for my new born baby girl. I looked at it and was amazed. For the first time in my life I was able to create something beautiful with my anger. Since then Ive made a lot of beautiful things and when I feel like my wheels are spinning and the anger comes back I know what to do. I’ve taught countless people the hobby of crocheting. I even had a grandmother tell me that i do real good work. I’m blessed to have this outlet and I am in an elite group of men that crochet. Have a blessed day.

    • Merion says:

      Dear Ray, you do indeed belong to an elite group of men that crochet – you’ll be glad to hear that lots of the gentlemen here at LoveCrochet are keen crafters too! It is a wonderful outlet for emotions, and how absolutely wonderful that you made a blanket for your baby girl – she will always have that to treasure! It is fantastic to hear how much crochet has helped you to cope with PTSD, especially considering the horrors you must have seen. You’re an inspiration to would-be men crocheters all over the world!

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCroche team x

  14. Maureen Cooper says:

    I served my community for 17 years as a police officer. My sentence for my service? Severe PTSD. It’s been a hell of a ride … Confusion, depression, hyper vigilance, isolation, betrayal anger etc. I’ve lost family and friends because they think I can just “get over it”. When the intrusive thoughts come I pick up my hook and I’m instantly calm. I love that my creativity is now back. I’m very very thankful

    • Merion says:

      Dear Maureen,

      What a terrible strain it must be for you to keep that PTSD at bay after such long service. It’s a great solace that crochet helps – and your creativity is shining through! Long may it continue! We send our best wishes,

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  15. Cynthia Wicklund says:

    I used to crochet in my 20’s but over the years, as my life got busy with 3 kids and so on, I gave it up. I’m now in my 60’s and have recently taken up crocheting again. I live in a very stressful environment–2 adult children who have returned home–and suffer from anxiety and OCD. When things get to me, I retreat to my bedroom and pull out my crochet and audio book downloads from the library. It’s amazing how much it’s helped. Since I can only do so many afghans for myself and family, I’ve begun a Red Cross blanket for the Stitch a Hug campaign. I get to crochet and a make a donation to a worthy cause. A win win. 🙂

    • Merion says:

      Dear Cynthia,

      What a gorgeous combination – crochet and audio books! Thank goodness they help you relax and recharge when things get too much. Crocheting for a charity is so worthwhile and the Red Cross will be so grateful for your blanket – what a lovely thing to do. We’re sending you our best wishes,

      Kindest,
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  16. Grama Judy says:

    I watched a friend double crochet a blanket at a get together. I was 41. I asked her to show me, I was fascinated! The next week I had a hook, yarn and interest! I loved it! We were in the middle of a move so long hrs were spent in the car and I made everyone blankets on the drives. I took a terrible fall into an unfinished swimming pool and my head landed on rebar and a year later had a stroke. Crocheting had left my life many years ago when I got busy with other things. As a result of these situations along with a very caring granddaughter that was 13 at the time, I was wandering thru a store and saw some yarn and thought I can do this! Wrong! The tears, the frogging, the mistakes, but the love of my granddaughter kept me working on it. Bless repetition! I finished it in time for Christmas and the joy in her eyes made me bawl like a baby but it has kept me going and learning new stitches and improving the quality of my work. I am never without my project bag where ever I go. The serenity and joy it gives me has opened my world up again. I give everything away, it gives me such pleasure to do for others…..thank you for listening….

    • Merion says:

      Dearest Grama Judy!

      Thank goodness for that wonderful granddaughter to inspire and love you – what a wonderful achievement, to have crocheted after a head injury AND a stroke. You’re an inspiration, and we are sure your granddaughter must be so proud of you! Thank you for sharing your amazing story.

      Sending our kindest wishes,

      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  17. Jan says:

    When you feel like it is ‘only me’ when you struggle with depression and anxiety, you realise there are so many people in the same boat. I knit also, but I definately find crochet more relaxing, I am also so lucky it has turned into a small business, making items for my niece’s childrens shop. I echo what so many other on here have said, it really does help with anxiety especially,

    • Merion says:

      Dear Jan,

      You are quite right, with depression and anxiety, it does feel like you are the only person in the world that has it and it can be very isolating. There are so many lovely communities online now, that even if you can’t face going out to meet people, there are others to chat to in the same boat. It must be so rewarding for you to be able to craft for a living – it makes a great difference when customers really appreciate hand made crafting.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us,

      Kindest
      Merion and the LoveCrochet team x

  18. Anonymous says:

    I am currenting suffering with severe Postpartum Depression and Anxiety along with PTSD from a birth trauma. I have been crocheting for 4-5 years but recently have started to a lot more as I began setting more time aside for myself. It has definitely helped to curb dark thoughts and feelings. I joined a project that has a detailed pattern that you need to follow closely and count rows often to make sure the count is accurate. I use a mindfulness technique while I crochet, analyzing texture, colors, how colors mend together, how the stitches look, etc. It is very therapeutic!

  19. Allison m jones says:

    I crochet therefore I am, I am because I crochet.

    My life since the age of 13 has been a battle with depression, social anxiety and loss of self recognition. I am now 38 and have been fighting against self harm, anger and total hopelessness. I suffer with OCD and used to make beaded jewellery to satisfy my counting addiction but I also have fibromyalgia and the fine motor skills are no longer an option plus I have 2 very demanding children under 7 yrs old.
    Just under 2 years ago my daughter, then 5, was rushed to hospital and later diagnosed as type 1 diabetic. I spent 7 long days and nights on a cot by her bedside whilst she was hooked up to all sorts of drips and machines. I couldn’t cope and so I learnt to crochet off you tube.

    The quiet absorption of the act of crocheting has become a daily lifeline. It fulfils my need to count and calms me down when I am manic.i have crocheted nearly every day for almost 2 years and in that time even through my darkest spells I have not self harmed once and for that reason alone I am eternally grateful for this deliciously self indulgent art form X x

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