The power of crochet

Some of you may already know that Debbie Housechild from our Preston office decided to teach herself crochet during lockdown.

Those who do will have been the proud recipients of one of Debbie’s fabulous little and perfectly formed crocheted teddy bears. From all accounts they are a prized and sought after soft toy – and you can see why!

The bear necessities

Debbie says, “I’m crafty, but I usually do cross stitch pictures but wanted a challenge so tried crochet, which is not easy and there were many bits of the bears that ended up in the bin.”

Crochet is a needlework technique that uses a crochet hook and fibre or similar material. Usually this material is yarn or crochet thread, but it might also be fabric, wire, twine, or other innovative material.

Like many handcraft hobbies, crochet has gone through a renaissance thanks to the internet and it boasts a huge international community. The pandemic and lockdown has fuelled even more interest and not just because of the fabulous finished products.

The University of Wollongong, in Australia, has researched and examined how the craft can be used as a mindfulness tool to impact on social and mental well-being. Dr Pippa Burns, a Lecturer at the University’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health Graduate Medicine, studied how crochet may assist with mental health and wellbeing.

The study followed the lead of on-going research by Betsan Corkhill, the founder of Stitchlinks, which found positive impacts of knitting on wellbeing. Research suggests that the rhythmical, repetitive motions of knitting could enhance the release of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, learning, and sleep. Serotonin is a naturally occurring analgesic (painkiller), and low serotonin levels have been linked to depression and anxiety disorders.

The University of Wollongong academic survey of crochet went viral worldwide and attracted responses from more than 8,000 people in 80 countries. It reported significant positive impacts on wellbeing.

Dr Burns said, “At the end of the survey we had a free text box asking if there was anything else people wanted to tell us. Over 50 per cents shared their experience of using crochet to get through high-stress times.

“People were saying there were connections to it being a mindful process, counting stitches, being in the moment and not thinking about stress of burdens. There is something about using your hands and being in the moment which helps still racing thoughts.”

Crocheting is actually a magical combination of mindfulness, repetition, focus, creativity, hand movement, productivity and often times positive social interactions.

In our corporate colours

However, Debbie warns, “It’s not relaxing to start with as it’s very frustrating! I can knit but found crochet more difficult. It’s more relaxing now and it stopped me from eating too much chocolate during lockdown as it was all consuming!

“The only tip I can give is to practice, a lot, which is probably why I did a lot of small bears. YouTube was very helpful. There are a lot of videos and it was useful to watch a step-by-step guide much more than following a pattern on paper.”

If you would like to get started then it is just a simple matter of typing ‘crochet’ into your internet search engine and a whole new world will open up to you…