Today Moonfalle shares her story of crochet and how it helped her through difficult times.
How did you learn to crochet?
My Nana, my father’s mother, taught me to crochet when I was little. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. She passed away in 2001, and I have always felt a little closer to her each time I was making something. I know that when my dad sees me crochet (he has told me) it makes him think of his mother and her mother as well as happy times with them.
Have you ever passed the craft along to someone else?
I have taught several of my friends to crochet. I feel like it’s sort of keeping my Nana’s memory alive, and I always hope they’ll teach someone else, too.
Do you crochet with others?
I am sometimes alone when I crochet, but I’m not shy; I’ll bring a project along to work while I chat over coffee or while the kids play. I work on crochet around my husband and my son. People are often interested in what I’m doing. If they don’t know how to do it, they marvel at the fact that I can make something from just a string. I hear a lot of “I could never do that!” I like to tell people that it’s a skill, not a talent, and that I would be more than happy to teach them how. People who like what I do, but don’t have the patience to try it for themselves, will ask me to make things for them. I often oblige.
What do you like to crochet?
I typically crochet for other people. I love how excited people get when they receive a handmade item. I feel like they know I put my heart into it when I made it especially for them. I love to make things for my friends’ children. I feel a little warmer in my heart knowing that this blanket or that hat will keep this or that baby warm. I like to think that when they are wrapping their baby in it they will think of the love I put into it and send a tiny bit of love out my way. I often choose new projects or techniques because I like the challenge and I like to occupy my mind as well as my hands.
How has crocheted helped you personally?
In 2oo9, my husband and I decided to try to have a baby. A little over 2 years later it still hadn’t happened, so we went through all of the testing and pain and loss of privacy involved in seeking help with our fertility. In June of 2011 we finally managed to get pregnant. We were elated. My pregnancy went along great; I felt wonderful and I was still working training dogs. Then, in November of 2011, at just a couple of days short of 23 weeks, I went into labor. Our daughter, Elysia was born weighing just under a pound. She had less than a 10% chance of survival and we decided not to put her through the pain of trying to keep her alive, so we called our family and we all held her until she passed away in my arms. We got the chance to tell her how much we loved her and how much she was wanted before she left us.
I was completely shattered. I have almost no memories of the rest of 2011 because I was so heavily sedated to keep me from … well, I don’t know what I would have done. At some point my husband told the doctors that I needed to be put on less heavy sedatives so that I could start to process my grief. That is when I picked up my crochet hook for the first time in years. I told my husband I was going to make him a blanket. I needed something to do with my hands, something to keep my mind just occupied enough that I could get through a few hours without crying. My husband chose some yarn that he liked the feel of and I started making panels in various sizes and stitch patterns until I had a huge afghan, big enough for my husband to wrap himself in. (It was over 6.5″ feet on one side and weighed almost 20 pounds1)
I finished crocheting the afghan at just about the time that my OB/GYN told us we could start trying to get pregnant again. We started trying, charting, not expecting much … but we got pregnant the first month we started trying again! Things were great until I was 10 weeks along and I was sent to a high risk pregnancy specialist. He informed us that in just 8 weeks I would be on bed rest. In 3 weeks I was going to have to have a surgery to make sure my cervix wouldn’t open up prematurely again. This meant I was going to be on bed rest for almost 23 weeks, nearly 6 months.
We were floored. I wasn’t going to be going back to work. We were going to have to change everything about our lives. I was hardly going to be leaving the house unless it was for a doctor’s appointment. At this time a dear friend, who had also had trouble getting pregnant, found out that she was going to be having triplets! My cousin, who was more like a sister to me, was also pregnant at the same time. We were all due within a 3 week period. I picked up my hook again and started making blankets, layettes, booties, hats, then anything I could think of to keep myself busy while I was layed up.
I actually gave myself carpal tunnel from crocheting so much during this time. The doctor said that I needed to find a hobby that wasn’t the computer or crochet. Crochet does not help with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. I actually get stressed out when I have to stop crocheting for a while so that I can heal from tendonitis! I asked my doctor what else I could do and he remembered that I wasn’t allowed to stand up, so he recommended a good brace that would allow me to keep crocheting. I kept at it. I was emotionally much healthier, and I felt good about my productivity during my bed rest. I haven’t stopped since. Nearly everyone I know has gotten a handmade baby blanket, a hat, a scarf, something to show I am thinking of them and that I love them enough to make something for them with my own two hands.
And your child was born at the end of that bed rest?
Yes, I have a son. Sometimes I crochet while he is playing. He frequently comes over and tugs at the yarn and it makes me wonder how young I can teach him! I love spending time with my son, my dogs and my husband.
What else do you enjoy doing?
I sew. I do some paper crafting. I draw and paint, which I also find to be very healing. I enjoy the fruits of my labors for many of the same reasons that I enjoy crochet.
What would you say if asked to describe the way that crochet is healing?
I love the fact that while I’m keeping my hands busy I am also making something useful that will keep someone warm and maybe help them feel loved. This sort of takes me out of myself. Concentrating on a pattern and making even stitches keeps my hands, and to a lesser extent my mind, busy. I feel a bit better about myself when I have finished a project and it turns out well. The sense of pride I get from making something nice is a boost if I’m feeling down. The occupation of making is in itself healing. I have created these things and they will last; when I feel useless or worthless or even depressed the whole process is helpful for those reasons.
Any last words about this?
The number one reason I crochet is that it lifts my spirits. Crochet is, in a way, a rite of remembrance for me. remembering my daughter, my Nana, thinking of the people I care about.