Friday, 10 June 2016

Dancing in the rain: Crochet and Mental health

Crochet and mental health don't, at first sight, seem to be natural bedfellows. But did you know that handcrafts like crochet and sewing reduce your heart rate and relax you in the same way that meditation or prayer does? Anecdotally, even Einstein is said to have knitted between projects to 'calm his mind and clear his thinking.'

However, mental health is a serious thing and whilst for some people crafts like crochet can help them to manage their condition, for others it's just too much. It's essential to remember whenever we think about mental health conditions that they're serious, not something to be dismissed, or categorised as people being 'over-sensitive'. I myself have had serious issues with my mental health in the past and am not ashamed of taking anti-depressants to help with that. For some people talking therapies or things like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help. For others, sadly, their battle is too hard, or they slip through an over-subscribed, seriously under-funded system and they lose their battle to the disease.

Marinke Slump (also known as Wink) was a crochet designer - she blogged at For her, crochet enabled her to express herself and connect with like-minded creative people all over the world. She designed Crochet Alongs (CALs) to share her love for craft, colour and to connect. Before she lost her battle with depression she shared her last CAL idea with the Dutch yarn company Scheepjes - it was a blanket inspired by the sea and it's beauty. In honour of her memory, Scheepjes and Marinke's friends and family have finished this CAL in her spirit to keep her in our memories and will be making a donation to (the Mental health charity) in Marinke's name.

A dear friend Sarah pointed me in the direction of this CAL, and as soon as I read the background I knew I had to participate. Dancing in the rain yarn pack ordered, Facebook group duly joined - I started to hook my squares. Sadly, as a relative beginner to crochet (and on losing several squares that fell out of the buggy) I found that Marinke's blanket was beyond my skills for now (I have every intention of returning to it in the future). Undeterred however, I have continued to crochet in her memory and am making a sea inspired neat ripple blanket using the gloriously soft Scheepjes yarn. My blanket will top our bed, reminding me on a daily basis of the importance of self care to maintain my mental health.

If you are a crochet - novice or advanced and wish to participate in this CAL - the details are on the Scheepjes CAL Facebook page and I would recommend (as always) buying your yarn kit from Wool Warehouse where there are options for all three colourways and both the investment yarn pack and the cheaper one - which was all I could stretch to.

Please do let me know if you use craft to help with self care, or if you're participating in this CAL.  If you'd like to follow my progress, do make sure you're following me on Facebook and Instagram which are where I share my blankety updates.

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