I was recently interviewed about crochet, health and my new book Crochet Saved My Life by Nicole Ramage of The Portland Examiner. One of the questions she asked me got me thinking about which types of crochet patterns or techniques are most healing for people.

Interview Excerpt

Nicole asked me:

“Was there a specific pattern or thing you crocheted that helped you the most?”

I answered:

“The most healing thing for me is usually a simple repetitive stitch pattern that doesn’t require much focus or though. I crochet a lot of large granny square blankets, for example. This allows me to get into a very meditative space, offering my mind a break from ruminating on its problems. It serves as a path to mindfulness, which can be so healing and refreshing.

I will say, however, that there are times when a more intricate pattern is required for me emotionally. In some cases, my mind is just going crazy, and in order to get my mind outside of itself I need a detailed pattern that requires a lot of attention to not make mistakes. I rarely work from patterns but when times like this arise I will do so.”

Read the full interview here.

Simple vs. Complex Projects

So basically what I’ve said here is that sometimes simple patterns are best for me and sometimes more complicated ones are best, depending on exactly what I’m going through and what I need. To elaborate …

I think simple projects are most healing for me when:

  • I am in a relatively calm state and want to use crafting to reach an even more meditative place.
  • I have a problem I want to mull over. I can physically do the stitching while my mind wanders. There are times when this is a good thing (and times when it’s exactly what I don’t want, so I have to be careful!)
  • I’m seeking a serotonin boost. The repetitive nature of the craft releases serotonin, a natural anti-depressant and natural painkiller.
  • I’m crafting with others. Crocheting in a group setting can be super healing because it’s a terrific social thing. It’s easier to do if the project your working on doesn’t require too much attention.

I think complex projects are most healing for me when:

  • I am in a hyped up or anxious emotional state and need a focused project to take my mind off of itself and bring me to a calmer space.
  • I need a self-esteem boost. Learning a new crochet technique or stitch or project type makes me feel good about myself in a way that making one more granny square just doesn’t.

What Do You Think?

I would love to know what other people think about this … what types of projects do you feel give you the most healing benefits and why? Share your answers in the comments!


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. I prefer the simpler patterns – I like to relax when I’m crocheting and watching TV. Intricate patterns require too much concentration for me and I always get irritated because I end up ripping out more than I care to. :)

  2. @CrochetBlogger completely agree with you, I’ve done both for the same reasons as well.

  3. joyannerose Reply

    I agree with your assessments, and actually like to alternate between easy and difficult patterns just to keep my interest .

    One thing you didn’t mention, was if you’re trying to improve your brain function (cognitive, memory, etc), or keep it at the level it’s at and not decline, then reading and doing complicated patterns is great for that. That’s what I started doing to combat “chemo brain”.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @joyannerose Great point – so glad that you added it!

  4. carolmckayau Reply

    Lovely granny square Kathryn! Easy / Complicated, very much depends on my frame of mind. A lot of the time I’m too depressed/lazy for either unfortunately.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @carolmckayau That can be tough … I usually drag myself to work on something and once I get going I’m glad I did and feel a little bit better but depression is such a difficult thing that it doesn’t always work that way.

  5. icrochetinoh Reply

    I agree with what you wrote above. Make sense and seems to follow with me. Congrats on the new Ravelry group.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @icrochetinoh Thanks – I’m so excited to watch how it develops and how everyone there can hopefully help each other out!

  6. barbaramartin1 Reply

    You’re absolutely right, although I had never actually thought about it. When I’m tired or stressed, I don’t want to work on something complicated – I want to be calmed and soothed by a pattern that I don’t have to think about. I always have an afghan going in my favorite Lion Brand Homespun – it works up quick, so I have a sense of accomplishment, and the yarn is so pretty that everyone loves their afghan. I have doll clothes for my granddaughter for times when I’m feeling adventurous. That makes me feel less guilty for not making as many doll clothes as I want to. THANKS.

    • carolmckayau Reply

      @barbaramartin1 “my favorite Lion Brand Homespun” link please? what is your favourite one?

      • CrochetBlogger Reply

        @carolmckayau @barbaramartin1 My guess is that it’s this one: http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/homespun.htm

        • barbaramartin1 Reply

          @CrochetBlogger @carolmckayau @barbaramartin1 Yes, CrochetBlogger, you are absolutely right. I should have put a comma after my favorite one, LB Homespun, because I love all the colors. I just use a single crochet, make a chain as long as I want and go. Sometimes I put a stripe in it every 10 rows, sometimes I put a different colored border around it. It’s so easy to work with because it’s a 5 yarn. And the colors are wonderful – many of them blending with 2 or 3 other colors.

  7. Pam @ Hooks and Hills Reply

    I’m on same page as you – depends on mood and what I need. Also how tired I am. Simple granny blanket very good to wind down of an evening. Other times a complicated pattern can be utterly absorbing in a wonderful way. I only discovered crochet recently and it has become such a major part of my self care as I work to avoid further round of depression / burn out. I love love love it :)

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