It’s December 2013, and I’m sitting on the futon in my college apartment. My end-of-semester assignments are looming, and junior year is kicking my butt a little bit. I have a car, a bit of money to spare in my tiny student bank account, and something makes me say to myself, “I want to learn how to crochet.” So I drive to Walmart and buy one skein of Lion Brand Hometown USA and a hook.
So my crochet hobby didn’t exactly start in the most sentimental way. I didn’t learn from a maternal figure on a comfy couch with the smell of cookies baking in the next room. I learned from a YouTube video in an old apartment, all the while feeling guilt for all the schoolwork I wasn’t doing.
But it was this less-than-sentimental beginning that makes me want to share my story. Having this creative hobby changed my life.
Why I Needed Crochet
Those of you who know me know that college was a difficult time for me personally. I had a lot of both external and self-imposed stress points that I was fighting hard to move through, but it was a challenge. When I started crocheting, I gave my worried and exhausted mind something beautiful to channel its energy into.
I’m mostly a seasonal crocheter (I generally crochet from September to late March or early April), and it just so happens that the college school year almost entirely falls under this season. Having something that I could always pick up whenever I needed a bit of distraction or when I felt inspired was more fulfilling to me than I can really communicate.
The learning process was also thrilling. It was the first time in many years that I had picked up a new skill that just came naturally to me. I devoured as many free patterns as I could with the time that I had and the yarn that I could afford (it was mostly Red Heart Super Saver then). Plus, there was the pleasure that comes when you wear something that you made and someone compliments it. Not to mention the pride and the satisfaction that comes from making something just as you wanted it.
For example, I am so proud of this sweater I made! It’s the third garment I’ve made for myself, and it was very easy. The pattern I used is the Everygirl Crochet Sweater from Hooked on Homemade Happiness. Making it caused me to reflect a lot on how much crochet means to me. I worked on it on and off for about a month, and I finished a lot of it around the time that I was deciding to start the blog. So I’ll always associate this sweater with investing in myself.
How Crochet Changed My Life
I can sum up how crochet changed my life for the better in three factors:
I taught myself to crochet. Some women in my family had crocheted or knitted at one time or another, but I didn’t have anyone that I was close to with this hobby who could’ve sparked my interest. It was something that I took on completely by myself, and everything I’ve learned has been because I sought out the resources to teach myself.
I gave myself a creative outlet. Like I mentioned, my mental health was not great at this time. Almost instinctually, I was compelled to take up this hobby. Who knows where the idea came from; all I can tell you is that I likely chose crochet over knitting because it was less common. I wanted something distracting, productive, and that I could make my own.
Choosing crochet was spontaneous and rebellious in a quiet way. I’m not an impulsive person, and though I like to have my own unique interests, I’m not one to bend rules really. Picking up a new hobby while I had that much schoolwork to do and my mind in a million other places was probably a bit irresponsible, but it was the best irresponsible choice I’ve ever made.
How Creative Hobbies Change Our Lives
I think that restlessness is something that nearly all of us experience. Everyday life can be mundane, or worse, taxing, and I’ve found that creativity is the perfect antidote for those feelings. If you’re someone like me who struggles with mental health and finding balance, any sort of creative activity is an excellent opportunity to take control.
For me, the repetitive stitching of crochet was soothing. It was something I could busy myself with as the anticipation of the finished product fostered excitement. But even less structured creative hobbies provide the satisfaction of control. Perhaps you’re someone who likes abstract illustration or writing streams of consciousness. Even if your creative hobby involves letting go, you’re making a positive decision to take control over your time and use it for something rewarding.
I know that some people don’t consider themselves to be creative. The thing is, it’s a muscle that all of us have, some of us just use it more often. You can even extend creativity beyond artful hobbies and into areas like physical activities. For you, creativity may be deciding on the perfect yoga flow or lifting routine.
I believe that humans want to build things that make them happy. Some of us do it with yarn, some with paint, some with wood, and some with their bodies. Whatever you want to cultivate, consider how it makes a positive impact on your life.