Today is day 7 of Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to talk about how yarn activities, specifically knitting, crocheting, and weaving can help contribute to mental health and wellness. Anecdotally, from my perspective, knitting, crocheting, weaving and other yarn activities provide me with a connection to my past and a means of creating something useful and/or decorative out of what is basically string. As I grow and learn more about myself, I am learning that while I like knitting and crocheting and while it has a lot of great benefits, It is not the craft I turn to when I am stressed. When I first started thinking about this post, I did not think that I would write about not choosing yarn crafts as a means of mental wellness, if I really think about it, knowing what your go to activities are as well as the ones that aren’t as enjoyable is just as important. There are a lot of great benefits to yarn work and creating positive mental health or wellness, but for me I choose other things.
Knitting, crocheting, and weaving have the repetitive act that creates a sense of calm and while I find that it does create a calming effect, I don’t choose to do it like I choose other activities. Simple patterns, like this washcloth, do not take a lot of thought and you can have a completed useful product in a very short time. For me, this can be an extremely important part of creating. There are a lot of times that I like fairly immediate gratification. I also like to have useful items at the end. I have to admit that the thought of knitting and crocheting a large blanket, while nice, is not a great project for me. I have many projects that are a work in progress because I have a hard time maintaining my focus for long periods of time. Again, this is important knowledge for my own mental wellness. Even activities that have been shown to be good for our mental wellness can be harmful if they are not calming to the person.
I have taken time to make things to donate to others. These hearts were for a foundation that collected brightly colored yarn hearts that were handmade and put them around for people to find to brighten peoples’ day and make them feel loved and like someone, even a stranger may be thinking of them. These hearts were for the Peyton heart project, a project started after a young boy died by suicide in 2004. I do enjoy these kinds of projects. They’re small, easy, and quick to make and I feel like I’m doing something to maybe brighten someone else’s day. It’s also a great way to use up small bits of yarn and feel like I’m not adding to the trash of our planet. These are all small things that make me feel good and help my mental wellness.
This was a small elephant lovie that I crocheted for a baby shower gift. I wanted to try to make something that meant something for someone, but all it ended up doing was giving me anxiety about whether or not the receiver liked the gift. It was probably in my head, like most anxiety, but I’m learning that creating for gifts without thinking who the gift is for does not do well for my mental wellness. There are people that making handmade items for is worth creating. My children and my husband appreciate things I create. My sister in law and her family are the same. I have a few friends that I think would actually appreciate something handmade, but there are a lot of people that I don’t feel comfortable creating for, even if that is just in my own head.
Weaving is something I am still struggling with. This is a loom that I made and while it worked, it wasn’t the easiest to use. I love my wall hanging weave that I created, but getting to the end point was a struggle. I think having a real loom with a rigid heddle to help with the over under weaving would make a huge difference, but I am not ready to spend that kind of money.
One thing I can honestly say is that I love looking at my yarn creations. That in and of itself makes yarn work good for my mental health. Do you find yarn work calming? Do you hate it? Have you ever considered yarn work for mental wellness?