This interview by Kathryn Vercillo originally appeared in a 2017 issue of Happily Hooked digital magazine. It’s been updated with new links to share here on the site. In it, Kvetka of The Creative Hook crochet blog shares how crochet heals her and others.
Who is Kvetka?
Kvetka of The Creative Hook in the UK learned to crochet as a child then resumed again when doing her degree work, ultimately leading her to a degree and career in Arts Health, which incorporates her understanding of how crochet heals us..
She loves working with color and texture, incorporating their healing features into her own life. She says, “Crochet as a technique creates a feeling of protection, something familiar which is the very reason for choosing this process.”
What are your fondest memories of learning to crochet?
I was taught to crochet by my grandmother when I was maybe 10 years old. I made some white flowers as a practice run and was very pleased with them. Memories are funny; I remember that they were crocheted out of white wool, but they may have actually been made from cotton, because my grandmother only used cotton for crochet. At that time wool was only ever used for knitting. I still remember those flowers, though, and the memory still makes me happy.
You returned to school and crochet played a part in that. Can you tell us more about this?
I took up crochet again when I was studying for my BA in Visual Arts and then later whilst studying for my MA in Arts Health. The satisfaction of both studying and crafting have been helpful for me. The fact that I appreciate the craft’s health benefits, which I have felt and recognized myself, has led me to my change of career path – to working in Arts Health.
One important thing in terms of how crochet heals in my life is that crochet has definitely been a conversation starter. Crochet can be a very easy and spontaneous way to connect with someone over a common interest.
I was able to discover some interesting facts about crochet when preparing and researching for my degree show. For example, at least in Slovakia, crochet started as a very utilitarian craft for fishermen to make their fishing nets, and was only later taken up by women and used for making lace/ doilies. I have also discovered some interesting facts about some of my family members when I organized a family crochet project, results of which were also part of my Degree Show in 2008. So, crochet has come together with my education in both personal and professional ways.
You mentioned the craft’s benefits and that crochet heals; what benefits has crochet brought to your life?
Crochet has helped me to work through difficult decisions, big life decisions, by occupying my hands with a tactile material. I worry a lot and sometimes struggle to stop anxiety-inducing thoughts. I suspect that sometimes I suffer from mild depression, even though I have never been diagnosed. Crochet heals that a bit.
In the past, I have used other techniques to help, like writing lists, drawing, dancing and creative writing, which I still utilize, however, crochet has been one of the most helpful coping mechanisms when it comes to stresses and anxieties. Utilizing the repetition and rhythm of the process of crochet, I have been able to come to conclusions and explore different options for solving problems. It’s truly amazing how crochet heals.
I feel sure that I would not have been able to see these same solutions if the process was limited to ruminating on the same subject; by not concentrating on the issue, the solution can present itself in time, intuitively discovered as opposed to cognitively reasoned. Crochet offers this. I have used this in the past during very difficult times, and I still use crochet in this way to help with distraction for problem solving.
Crochet also offers a great form of focus. I have created a mindfulness / awareness practice with the help of crochet.
Read even more about the benefits of crochet on this page of Kvetka’s website.
What type of crochet projects offer you the most personal benefit?
The choice of project very much depends on my mood. That is why I love the extent to which the crochet projects can vary. There always seem to be a story behind my pieces, which as important as the piece, if not more important for me, than the piece itself.
Although I have gone through a phase where I only used white yarn, I use a lot of color these days. I LOVE color, so I use a lot of bright colors, which makes me smile every time I look at a project, in progress or after completion.
Additionally, I love the tactile nature of crochet and have worked a lot with 3d stitches. I have made a blanket which is kind of a memory sampler, which includes all my favorite stitches, reminding me of specific projects. It also includes some other stitches that were new to me, ones I have always wanted to try.
Do you have a preference for small or large projects?
Sometimes I feel like crocheting small items for people as presents, which I hope will bring them joy, but then sometimes I prefer to work on a large project where I do not have to make many decisions along the way and can just keep going. Other times I like to make small squares or flowers that I later bring together to create a final piece, but which at the time are done quite quickly, and therefore I get the satisfaction of a finished piece quite quickly even though it’s ultimately for a large project.
What crochet project are you most proud of?
The blanket that I had made for my mother’s milestone birthday, where I organized my family members once again to each crochet something for me that I was able to make into a present for her that came from all of us. This gift was a surprise and it turned out well, although my favorite part was the planning, organizing and connecting of the pieces. The process seems to be more valuable to me than the finished piece, which is why the use of the process in Arts Health fascinates me also.
Have you ever seen how crochet heals other people?
I have facilitated and attended crochet groups within various mental health facilities, where the mindfulness of crochet is explored. I’ve seen crochet used as a way to focus and ground an individual struggling with a variety of mental health ailments by taking part in crochet as an embodied activity, and I have also seen crochet used as a way of promoting social inclusion.
What is the most important thing you would want to tell someone who is just learning to crochet?
Have fun. Discover the things you want to do at your own pace. I have not come across anything in life so varied as crochet; it has such a rich history, and variety of use that is truly inspiring. What I love most about crochet is that you do not have to have a plan to start with. You can accomplish so much with just one stitch. It is easy to learn, and even easier to do. Patterns are great but do not worry about them in excess.
When I teach, I tend to go through the stitches, but I always offer options on how to develop each stitch. I like to emphasize that crochet can be an amazing craft and a very freeing and mindful experience. Because it is so versatile, as long as you understand the basics, you are fine. And also, crochet is so very easy to undo if you make a mistake. So if you are unsure if you are reading a pattern correctly, experiment some and try it in different ways, see how it could be done so that you are happy with the result!
And last but not least: Keep going!
What would you say you are personally best at in crochet?
Playing with patterns. Reading them. Understanding them. Changing them. I can adapt patterns to make what I need to be made. Like any skill, this can be a nuisance sometimes; if I don’t read the pattern properly and make presumptions, and then later on realize that I have made a mistake and have to undo a lot of stitches, then I’ve caused myself a hassle. Overall it’s a great skill though.
What is your favorite crochet quote or saying?
There are a few actually:
- A lady never reveals the size of her yarn stash.
- Crochet is cheaper than therapy.
- Crochet is not a hobby, it’s a post-apocalyptic life skill.