In "Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet" author Kathryn Vercillo speaks in depth about how therapeutic crochet can be with both mental and physical health. She shares her own story and those of others who have derived great benefits from the craft.

It should be noted that Kathryn Vercillo is not a doctor or mental health professional but says that she has an educational and work background in social work and has worked with mental health professionals.

So, let's hear what Kathryn Vercillo has to say about "Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet.

Q: What type of audience are you trying to reach? Does crochet get better results with certain emotional and physical issues than others?

A: When I put out the call for stories for researching this book I intentionally kept it very open, allowing anyone who felt that crochet had helped them heal to share their tales with me. I am so glad that I did this because it really exposed me to the fact that crochet can help people in so many different situations from postpartum depression to schizophrenia, from labor pains in the delivery room to the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and more. From what I learned, I would not say that crochet helps people more with one issue than another.

I want to add, though, that my own mental health experience has been with long-term depression so that is a definite focus of the book. Depression is a side-effect or complicating factor of almost all other mental illness and often of physical illness as well. It often comes up in the stories that other people shared with me. Anyone who has ever dealt with depression will find that the book especially resonates with them because of this.

The book was originally aimed at the crochet audience. I run a very popular crochet blog, Crochet Concupiscence, and had my readers of the blog in mind as I wrote the book. Since it has come out, though, I have had many readers come forward to say that they don’t crochet but found that the book was something that really touched them because of their own experiences trying to survive and thrive through a serious health issue or life tragedy.

Q: Have you found that certain kinds of crochet projects are more beneficial than others?

A: I think this depends entirely on the individual and what they are going through at the time. I recently wrote about this on my crochet blog and will share with you here a portion of the answer I gave there as I think it best illuminates my personal experience about the best projects.

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.

Q: What do you enjoy more, writing or sharing your work with others?

A: I think the answer to that question depends upon the phase I’m in. I think writers go through ebbs and flows with writing, periods of time when the writing is the focus and periods of time when the writing is less the focus … at least that is how it has been for me.

I can say for certain that although I get great joy in sharing my work with others I would write even if no one ever read my writing. I have been a lifelong journal writer. I have written for as long as I can remember and written many things without ever intending for others to see them. I write because I am compelled to write. Writing is how I understand the world and how I express myself. Writing is me.

But writing is also how I connect with others and so sharing my work is definitely an important thing for me. I believe in the power of words and the power of stories. I hope that the things I write will occasionally fall into the right hands of a reader who needs to hear those things at just that time, as I know has happened to me occasionally as a reader. When I find out that has happened, it gives me an immense and unique type of joy that is very different from any type of joy I get from actually writing.

Q: If someone is having difficulty with crochet and think they just don’t have the knack for it, what advice would you give them?

A: Crochet is a fairly easy craft for many people to learn but of course not everyone is going to take to it quickly. First I’d say to make sure that you are cutting yourself some slack and not seeking perfection from yourself in the beginning. I promise you that the first thing any of us crochet is ugly but also beautiful because it’s a new craft emerging. Accept that! Second I’d say that if you’re really having a tough time learning then you may not be learning in the way that’s right for you so it’s worth trying another way – a class, a lesson from a friend, a self-taught YouTube session, just a different way from what you’re already trying. Finally, if you really are struggling and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to work then it may not be the right craft for you for right now and that’s okay. Keep looking for the craft that is right because it is out there for you.

Q: In addition to “Crochet Saved My Life” you’ve written several other nonfiction books. Would you ever be interested in doing a novel?

A: I have dabbled with all sorts of writing over the years and have found my personal preferred niche to be in non-fiction writing with an emphasis on sharing personal, relatable true stories. I’m a voracious reader of all types of writing but also tend to drift towards this same style as a reader, (I love memoirs and niche non-fiction) so I suppose it makes sense that it is also what works for me as a writer.

I do, however, have the workings of a novel in the back of my mind and would consider it a huge personal accomplishment if that ever came to fruition. When I was in my early twenties I worked at a group home for abused children with severe behavioral problems. It was an intense experienced that marked me in so many ways. When I left there, I wrote an entire draft of my non-fiction account of the experience. I shopped it around and even had an agent for awhile but nothing came of it. I think that was a good thing; the writing is immature and I really wasn’t ready to share that story. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to complete that project, though, and I think it actually might work better as a fictionalized account inspired by the experience than it does as a non-fiction account of what happened there. I don’t have any specific plans for making this a reality but I think it’s a project I’ll move on eventually, when the time feels right for me.

Q: What are your future writing plans?

A: I am currently at work on a book of creativity exercises for crocheters. It is designed to offer inspiration, ideas and concrete exercises that people who crochet can use to add more art into their days and improve their quality of life. I’d really like to make this both a print workbook and an ebook with interactive audio and video features and hope to release it in 2013.

I have several other projects in the works, both large and small. In the meantime, I also continue daily writing on my three blogs: Crochet Concupiscence (all about crochet), the blog on my author website (about writing, blogging, etc.) and Diary of a Smart Chick (my personal blog about all types of random interesting things).

Here’s where people can find me:

My website:
My crochet blog:
The book’s site:
My personal blog:
On Twitter: @KathrynVercillo and @CrochetBlogger
On Facebook:

I am also on many other social networking sites; links can be found on my main websites.
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Published on October 18, 2012 17:15 • 962 views • Tags: craft, crochet, knit

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Authors' Musings

Jennifer K. Lafferty
Jennifer K. Lafferty, author of Movie Dynasty Princesses, reviews a wide range of books and discusses various aspects of contemporary and classic literature.

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