Crochet Therapy

Crochet heals individuals and communities. I have devoted my working life to learning all about the different benefits of crochet. I shared my personal experience, along with extensive research into the craft’s mental and physical health benefits, in my book Crochet Saved My Life. I went on to research and write exercises for healing through crochet, which I’ve shared in my book, Hook to Heal. In response to the suicide death of crochet designer Marinke Slump, I curated the Mandalas for Marinke art project to heal through crochet as a community while raising awareness about depression and suicide. I continue to regularly research all benefits of crochet; share your story. I am also offering ongoing creative support through crochet to people who are interested in the benefits; see Patreon for more information.

Want to read my articles about crochet health? Check here.

 

Crochet Saved My Life

Crochet saves lives. It saved mine.

In the worst throes of depression I found myself sobbing on the bathroom floor, the tip of a kitchen knife pointed into my wrist. I was aching to break the flesh and bring the pain to an end. Through sheer force of will, I pried my own desperate hands open and replaced the knife with a crochet hook. Then I crocheted to save my life.

In this book, you will get to know me through my story of depression and healing. And you will get to know other women as well. You will meet Aurore who crochets to stay in touch with reality as she deals with ongoing psychiatric hallucinations. You will meet Laurie who made a new life with crochet after years of a life filled with abuse. You will meet Tammy whose crochet helps her with the ups and downs of living with Chronic Lyme Disease. You will meet Liza who crochets through the anxiety of having temporary bouts of blindness caused by an undiagnosed health condition.

The two dozen women whose stories are shared in this book are the women who hook to heal. We are not alone. Studies shows that crocheters are numerous; research and anecdotal evidence show that people of all ages, from all walks of life, with all types of health conditions may find healing through their hooks and yarn. Join us on our journey.

Hook to Heal

You are an artist. Yes, you, with your crochet hook and yarn! And you can use your art to heal yourself and the world around you.

Hook to Heal is a one-of-a-kind crochet book designed to infuse your crochet with healing energy. You will not find crochet patterns, tutorials or images here. This book will not teach you to crochet, although it suggests resources for learning, but it is designed to be adaptable for use by anyone with even basic beginner crochet skills. What you WILL find here is a set of more than one hundred creativity exercises that use your crochet skills as the vehicle to take you on a creative journey to a magic world of whimsy, art and openness.

These exercises will help you take better care of yourself, face fears, embrace adventure, create abundance, improve relationships, find balance, and make art that heals you from the inside out.

Get Creative Support

I have studied psychology at the Masters level and have committed myself to ongoing understanding of the benefits of crochet and the ways in which crochet can be used as a therapy. I offer email support to Patreon supporters based on my experience, education and continued research. For just $15 per month, you can get a themed support email that includes

– A theme … Some examples include mindfulness crochet, improving relationships through crafting, finding inner peace with crochet and crocheting in a way that connects you to community. Some themes are drawn from Hook to Heal and the research that went to create that book; others are based on new research.

– Information about the theme including research and helpful quotations

– At least one crochet exercise to assist you in developing the theme … this exercise will include the steps and may also include tutorials / examples

– “Yarn For Thought” questions to muse on or journal about as a means to dig further into the topic and assist you in better utilizing crochet for healing

– Recommendations for additional resources regarding the topic and / or tools in assisting you to crochet for that theme

Individual online support is available to varying degrees at higher price points.

94 Comments

  1. I cannot wait to read this book! I have fought depression for years, and a diagnosis of cancer pushed me off the cliff to the darkest of places. Then the anxiety and panic attacks decided to join the party! My sister taught me to crochet at 12 but I had not picked up a hook in years. Unable to work, I began to crochet again. It filled a void, and made me find self-worth in the beautiful things I made. When people started to offer to pay me for my work, the light shone just a little brighter. I have a long way to go, my health is slowly returning and my psychiatrist is a great help, but nothing has brought me peace and an inner calm like picking up that hook and my favorite yarn. Thanking you for your courage to share your story!!!

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @Roberta N Thanks Roberta! I really appreciate you sharing some of your story here. Depression is such a lonely place and although I’m out of the woods now I know that maintaining connections to others in as many ways as possible is a really important part of staying healed. The book will be out in a few weeks and I would love your feedback after reading it!

  2. I’m excited to read this, crochet has helped me so much as well. And it definitely saved me just last week, I crocheted for hours on end to keep myself going, I’m still crocheting up a storm, it really keeps those bad ideas away

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      Thanks Casey. I’m really happy to hear that your crochet is helping you in this way. Keep hanging on to it and stitching your way into better days!

  3. @CrochetBlogger can’t wait to read it–especially since crochet helped save my life, too!

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @edbites Thanks so much! I never could have known when I first picked up the hook just how much it would help me.

  4. This speaks to my heart and soul! I was struck by transverse myelitis in 2006 and left paralyzed, wheel-chair dependent, jobless and away from home. I returned to crocheting, began to design and teach crochet to the other residents of HUD, special-needs highrise. Crocheting gave me a new community when I had lost several others because of this devastating disability. Though impoverished, I could still create useful gifts of beauty, dolls, sculptures. As I lost my other artforms – glass and large scale paper — I took refuge in crochet, and began to learn more, and find a path. So I look forward to reading about others’ journeys. Thank you for gathering and presenting these experiences.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Akua! You’ve touched on so many of the things that I’ve heard again and again: crochet connects you to a community, gives you something productive you can do even if you lose the ability to do other things and offers a portable, affordable option for creating. I’m so glad that you not only found crochet but are bringing it to others!

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  6. nowvoyager05 Reply

    I just got your book in the mail. The second paragraph of your intro that started ‘Prior to this terrible period’ was ME! All except it had gone on for over 50 years. ..I bless you with all my heart. BigHug

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @nowvoyager05 Thank you so very much for sharing this. Putting my heart out there with this book is a little bit nerve-wracking. I can’t help but wonder if anyone will be able to relate to what I’ve said. Although I obviously wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone, I am so glad to know that it touched you. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

  7. momwithahook Reply

    Just downloaded via Kindle, can’t wait to read it. So happy that this is being shared.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @momwithahook Thanks so much! I really hope that you enjoy it. Check out the section in the depression chapter that touches on grief and Laurinda’s story.

  8. CrochetBlogger Reply

    @CrochetKitten Thanks so much for spreading the word about the book. I’m so excited to get it out there!

    • CrochetKitten Reply

      @CrochetBlogger Of course! You’ve spread plenty of my links–thought I’d return the favor. It looks like a good read.

  9. Sacredcrocheter Reply

    Kathryn, I was reading through all of your wonderfully inspiring blogs on crochet and healing this week when it suddenly hit me that your new book “Crochet Saved My Life” is the crocheters equivalent of the AA Bible called The Big Book! Most people have heard of the 12 Steps but The Big Book is probably most familiar to AA and NA members. It is an invaluable book that’s been around for many many years. It consists of stories of severe alcoholics who were not only saved but lifted up and redeemed by AA.

    Each story has special meaning for individual members. There is always one story that knocks you off your feet because it’s YOUR story. There are special Big Book meetings where each week another story is read aloud and discussed by members.

    As I read the stories in your book, more than a few hit me so hard that I began to cry. Although I did not write them, I suddenly realized that I was reading my own story. This is a transformative experience. It lets a person who is isolated and in pain know that no matter how difficult their life is there is someone else who suffered as they are suffering and came through on the other side.

    It lets us know that in this “valley of tears” we are not alone. Thank you thank you thank you.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @Sacredcrocheter I am humbled by your wonderful comment. I don’t even know what to say except thank you so very much for sharing this thought with me. *hugs*

  10. VashtiBraha Reply

    I’m so glad a book on this exact topic has finally been written! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog so I’m looking forward to reading your book too.

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  14. I found out about your book through Sarah London’s blog. I’m a newbie at crochet, but what you describe here is still familiar to me. My experiences aren’t as awful as some mentioned here, but I have lived with depression for a number of years. Last year I was struggling particularly badly with chronic fatigue, and there were many days that I couldn’t do much more than sit on the lounge in front of the TV. I’ve loved cross stitch since I was a young girl, but last year was by far my most prolific period. Doing cross stitch meant I felt that I was productive. Even if I couldn’t do the housework or write an article, at least I was producing something. This year I taught myself to crochet, so now I can produce items that have a function beyond beauty – slippers, blankets, dishcloths, and who knows what else! I’m looking forward to reading your book – I think I will be able to relate in some small way to your stories.

    Hearing about your book also reminded me of the comic written by a friend of mine, from an excellent anthology of comics about depression called Kinds of Blue.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @Larakate Thank you so much for sharing your story here. You’ve highlighted a key issue for people dealing with depression (as well as many other conditions) which is that you often battle not only the illness but low self-esteem caused by a lack of productivity from the illness. Being able to create beautiful, functional things for yourself, your home and others helps to combat that in a really positive way. I wish you all the best!

  15. danidoesdoilies Reply

    Okay, I entered the contests for the giveaway via my blog danidoesdoilies.blogspot.com. Thanks for the opportunity to win your great book!

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  17. SquashMama Reply

    I was fortunate to stumble upon your book on Amazon, not realising it has only just come out! I’ve had it 3 weeks, and read it cover to cover.

    Thank you, I am 25 with severe asthma, arthritis and depression, and this has helped me so much in expressing how learning crochet in Jan this year has helped me.

    A fantastic book! Xx

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      Thank you so very much for sharing your story. Keep hanging in there, moving forward one day at a time, one loop at a time!

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  24. HelenaSullivan Reply

    Thanks for the email! I’m v interested in this book. I’ve enjoyed reading about the contributors. My heart goes out to you all as I’ve been there with depression, and to Aurore, as I’ve also had hallucinations (as part of bipolar)……..btw the linky for the ‘join the maillist’ on this post doesn’t seem to be working- it goes to a 404 message.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @HelenaSullivan Warm healing thoughts coming your way as you continue to thrive through bipolar …

      Thanks for the heads up on the link – it appears to be working on my end but I’m going to look into it.

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  27. knittingwoman Reply

    I’m a knitter not a hooker:) but I really want to read your book. Knitting has seen me through some really rough patches in the last decade +.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @knittingwoman The book talks a lot about knitting benefits as well. Although I don’t knit, I’ve talked to many people about their experience of healing with needles. :)

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  30. HobbyHooker Reply

    I can’t wait to purchase and read your book. I applaud and commend you for sharing your story and providing a platform for others to share theirs. I have been an avid crocheter since I was eight years old, but crochet has really become extra important and meaningful for me in the last fifteen years or so (I’m 35), as it has been instrumental in my equipping myself to be able to deal with my bipolar disorder. Had it not been for crochet, I truly believe I would not have progressed anywhere near as far as I have with my illness. I won’t relate my story here but just wanted you to know how great it is to know that there are others in similar situations whose lives have also been saved by crochet.

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me and my readers. It is always wonderful to hear how crochet is helping others. Keep at it and keep in touch!

  31. Les Marshall Reply

    Hi everyone out there, I have wool, hooks, needles and I have the book of How Crochet saved My Life, and I still cannot start working, I don’t know what I am doing really….. I guess I am feeling sorry for myself and feel pretty stupid for doing this .. e mail! I mean, I have ME and I am worn out I have other problems but it is the ME that has got me this time.. anyone with tips would be welcome, Les.

    • Meggan Jack Reply

      Hi Les,
      just read your comment on this blogpost about the book ‘How Crochet Saved my Life’,I know you made this comment back in 2013, and it’s now 2015, but …….. who knows where you are now, with crochet…….. or other’s in a similar position

      I’m a crochet addict and have been for over 20 years, but lately due to CFS even crochet is beyond my energy levels, unless I have a deadline, or a project that gets me in and keeps me going.
      I have many projects on the go at the same time, as until I feel the creative urge and raise my NRG up they can sit there, waiting til I suddenly feel and know that today I will begin work on it again.
      So having something started, is always a good thing. having a few things ‘started’ is even better, as it gives you a choice for your inspiration.
      Scrumbling crochet, and working freeform is great, as you can just make very small pieces, that later on you can join together to make whatever takes your fancy, a hat, a bag, a sculpture, a coral reef.
      There’s the wonderful Hyperbolic Crochet, where you work a single crochet stitch round and round continuously, increasing a second stitch into each stitch and the circle begins to waver, you keep going and it becomes a ‘brain coral, a 3D hemisphere

    • Crochethelpsme5.27.17 Reply

      Start with dish towels or a new block square pattern. I do this when I feel stuck on a project. Bit gets me going and helps me learn a new stitch. Also watching yarn craft and crochet videos gets me motivated.

  32. E Christina Dabis Reply

    I’ve often said, “Crocheting was cheaper than a psychiatrist.” and I thought I was alone with this knowledge. I can see now that I was not the only crocheter who found the calm and prideful satisfaction that came from crochet. Now, those rough times are behind me and I still crochet.
    Thank you for posting your story, and it is wonderful to know that my solution was common to many others.

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  34. Just came across your blog. Very inspiring and encouraging, to say the least. Crochet has been with me for many years, and has certainly been there for me through some rough times in my life, including breast cancer surgery, chemo, radiation and a few bad bouts of depression.. However, one rough time is particularly important to me.
    Years ago I was desperate to quit smoking. I was prone to severe bronchitis and had just had a horrible few weeks of coughing, gagging, etc. I was smoking nearly 3 packs a day and it cost a fortune. I went to a hypnotist for a one-session cure. I felt like I had to quit smoking at least for the equivalent amount of money that the hynotist cost – or that was my reasoning at the time. I had stashed a pattern for a blanket made of scrap yarns – and I started crocheting this double bed size single crochet blanket for my daughter. I worked on this for hours a day (at home with small children) and eventually finished two of them. By the time I put my hook down, I was pretty sick of the this mindless crochet project – even though the blankets were lovely and full of color and delight – but I WAS NOT SMOKING. Alleluia!

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  36. Cathy the Bagg Lady Reply

    I just purchased the book from Amazon for my Kindle.Looking forward to reading it.

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  38. hello, for some reason I have never seen or heard of this book, what an incredible book. I have fought with depression for many years, I have back issues so I no longer work. I have ALWAYS worked so needless to say, I was lost. I gave up on the work at home jobs, they are a joke… A friend of mine brought to my attention that our local hospitals could always use very soft hats, cocoons etc for the babies in neonatal unit. I now work on that during the day. It doesn’t pay money but the pay I get back is priceless. Thank you for sharing this post. Best wishes to all of you. Lisa

    • Kathryn Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks so much for your message. I’m so glad that you’ve found crochet as a way to work through depression. Many hugs of support in your journey!

      Kathryn

  39. I always thought I’m stupid for thinking that something silly like crocheting saves me on a daily basis…
    I haven’t read your book yet, but just knowing that I’m not alone makes me cry in relief. Thank you so much!

  40. I have not read the book, I hope to do so one day, but from my own experience, make crochet has been for me a great therapy for overcoming depression I suffered after a critical moment in my life. Whenever I yew and yew, I think that I have moments of reflection that soothe my anxieties and that also makes me feel that I do something useful.
    Forward and congratulations.

  41. Luciana Silva da Costa Reply

    Boa noite!

    Com cinco anos idade sofrir acidente atropelada, com 10 anos sofri brigas dos meus pais, com doze anos conheci uma amiga Luciana minha xara ela me ajudou a fazer croche, ela nã sabe como foi muito gratificante pra minha vida, hoje tenho 43 anos amo fazer croche, no momento estou fazendo terapia sinto uma tristeza profunda dentro de mim, meu marido grita comigo odeia quando faço croche, comecei a pesquisar na internet o significado do croche, encontrei o que eu realmente queria saber, jamais vou desistir a partir de amanhã vou ensinar alguém fazer croche, é verdade o croche faz com que a gente tenha soluções para situações mais difcil

    • Kathryn Reply

      I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties, especially that your husband does not support your crochet. However, I’m happy to hear that you’ve found the craft and are sticking with it as a way to take care of yourself. Reach out anytime that you need support!

      Eu sinto muito em ouvir sobre as dificuldades, especialmente que o seu marido não suporta o seu crochet. No entanto, estou feliz em saber que você encontrou o ofício e estão furando com ele como uma forma de cuidar de si mesmo. Estenda a mão a qualquer momento que você precisar de apoio!

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  43. Just ordered this book, I also get very anxious and go through melt downs and my go to relief has always been crocheting. It works wonders, calms me and transports me to a magical place where I can create anything I desire… thank you so much.

    • Kathryn Reply

      I hope that you enjoy the book. I am so glad that crochet has been able to help you through those difficult experiences. <3

  44. Best regards, I fully understand your story….. In my case, I was in an episode of depression increased by more than three years and prescriptions did very little and joined this Fibromyalgia,my family situation was complicated with the diagnosis of my two sons TEA, However with much love of my husband and my children we managed to come out of this dark tunnel…. Now yew with crochet beautiful hats and much more…

    This allows me to moments of reflection without falling into depression and moments of laughter when my creations do not go as I had hoped, and my children? As they has rien of the crazy things that I tend to knit.

    I have not read your book, but only to read your opening words I can understand you.

    Affectionately:
    Rayza Martinez

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thank you so much for your message. I am so glad that you found crafting as a way to help you through the depression. Big hugs. <3

  45. ? i can´t believe i´m not alone! :3 I´m a crochet newbie and i´ve been thinking about how crochet helps me when i get sad, depressed, stressed or stuff like that (we all got problems), not that i get SERIOUS depression like others posted here but you know what i mean. It feels so warm and happy in the heart when you hold the hook <3.

    ironically most of my recent sadness is caused couse of the situation of my country AND Lack of yarn here in my country (Venezuela) blah blah blah you cant imagine how difficult is to find yarn at a decent price! not to mention that no one sells bulky cotton (only mercericed cottton for small crochet)…… :/ <— this is no joke really, is a pain.

    Thank you very much for writing that book and encouraging people to fight depression and make beautifull things instead! you are an angel ?

    Regards and happy crochet!

    • Kathryn Reply

      I am so sorry for the struggles that you go through and especially for the difficulty in finding yarn to work with. Luckily, you can really crochet with anything string-like. Turn rags and old fabric into strips of yarn. Plastic bags can be crocheted. It’s not ideal but if you have limited options it can be a lifesaver. HUGS.

  46. Mimi Von Streuselkuchen Reply

    Hello,
    Thank you for sharing your passion of the hook and the benefits you've shot to improve your health. For me as the hook is a source of relaxation and creativity. He hast not saved my life , but helped to stop smoking.
    It is also through sites such as yours that I could learn little by little hook, and I am starting my blog to me also share my passion.

    This is why I wish you continue the hook and have a lot of success in everything you undertake.

    Kind regards

    Mimi

  47. Rachel Biel Reply

    Hey, Kathryn! Did you see this post on Textile Artist?
    http://www.textileartist.org/ami-james-how-textiles-can-change-lives/

    You might want to connect with her. :)

    Rachel

  48. I'm a very creative person stepped in at the time that the lost her depression. And am very inspired by her to be open about my bipolar disorder. Hooks gives me a goal, a direction I so need to dealing with my ' disease '. I have so not only depression but also manic period and hooks gives me just at the right times which rests, you as bipolar so need.
    Hooks has definitely my life changes!

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  50. I just bought this book on Kindle! I am so honored to read it. Crocheting has saved ,y from death and from self harm for so many years! It is a great support for my mental wellness and I love the fact that it helps others and we can all share this!

    • Kathryn Reply

      So glad that you have found it’s supportive comfort. HUGS.

  51. Pingback: Creativity and Depression: Part Two | Depression Getaway

  52. luana munhoz Reply

    I had depression for a long year, I did not know what to do, It was when I remembered that I knew how to crochet and tiinha learned to 9 years old, I put into practice all my knowledge. Besides being a therapy, It helped me to get out of depression, today I am with 19 years and it's been 1 year control this terrible thing with Crochet. I love crochet <3

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  54. Hi Kathryn, I loved reading your book, I can really relate to it. I learnt to crochet while I was in hospital and it’s been a big part of my life ever since. I’ve written about it in my latest blog post and gave your work a mention – http://www.liveconsciouslyconnected.com/crochet-therapy/
    Laura x

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  56. “IDLE HANDS ARE THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP!! A proverb that needs no clarification yet such a wonderful ailbi!! Thank you so much for sharing your testimony!! I too, am proof provided by existence, that crocheting will CHANGE YOU; the way you think, how you approach things, & remind you that moving onward in space & time towards a particular purpose…
    IS SIMPLY MAGICAL!!
    #self~taught #batesaluminum/bamboo
    #O.C.D obsessive crocheting disorder

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  59. christina Aka enzer the crafter Reply

    I tried to begin crochet when i was looking for a way to control my bipolar. I was a bit violent…okay ALOT but i had my reasons..at the time it was helping a little but being the utter NOOB i was i didnt know how to do the 2ed row without being angry. After much pratice..and research i got it right and i started to calm down more and more..Mom is seeing an improvement in my temper and noticed almost all day i do this. Yes i have that much bipolar anger in me. So i actually have a curious question. Is their a way to make bunnies in crochet?

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  62. Hello!!!! awesome knowing that somehow wool, points, crochet save lives, and stories to my saved me learn to spin, and it is incredible!!! now work in a place where work with yarn, wool and tissue, with people who have mental illness and the results are unique, There are wonderful drugs one of them is able to work with your hands, the imagination, the heart.
    my greetings and I would love to have your book

  63. I have to be honest I am neither a knot nor crocheting girl but I am very much so in love with vintage doile and lace, and I’m also bipolar with very rapid cycling manic tendencies if not controlled by medicine and steering clear of triggers. Well, the few I recongnize anyway. BUT I am slightly obsessed with macrame! However no matter how “easy” the pattered knows are or Style of …I literally want to scream after about 30mins because I have watch YouTube videos, read the how to guides, bought books and have all supplies etc. I need a teacher ! Ever thought of doing classes? Maybe I will have to read your book to encourage more sanity and patience! ?

    • Kathryn Reply

      I like macrame as well! I think the most important thing is to focus on being in the present moment and how the craft helps you … without getting lost in “is this right?” or trying to make it perfect. <3

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