I started crocheting this year, out of a sudden and mad desire to make things. The wonderful thing about actually learning a craft like crochet is just how directly satisfying it is — the product is right there, manifesting, in front of your eyes. Before you know it, you have something you have made that you can admire, gift or use. But what has crochet got to do with mindfulness?
In a nutshell, it’s my firm belief that crochet is a great activity for mindfulness, because it contains the following:
It’s pretty hard to be focused on a lot of things at once when you’re crocheting — especially at first. You have to concentrate, so it’s a good activity for getting you into the habit of focusing your attention on a single point, blocking out other activities and restlessness.
Alongside concentrating, crochet gives you the opportunity to really regard how you move and perform a repeated action. It gives you the chance to notice more about what you are doing, in far greater detail, and how that movement affects you, rather than simply doing things and never noticing what they are. A kind of mini version of the ‘body scan’ that makes up a lot of mindfulness practice.
I’ve watched friends who mindlessly move — they tend to leave fridge doors open or lights on, walk into people or spend time staring blankly into their phone, disregarding the world around them in a thousand small ways. Mindful movement gives you a chance to learn how to counter all that with more deliberate action.
While you’re working, thoughts will come and go. You can practice compassion for your own thoughts and feelings — spend time noticing what passes through the mind, and become more aware of this. It’s an opportunity to be kind to your wandering mind, without judgement. Your thoughts will wander off, but you can learn to notice this and bring your attention back. Practicing some self-compassion here leaks into other areas of life.
…that’s it. It’s affordable, straightforward and fun. Perfect.
Far more useful than trying to read crochet patterns when you don’t know your double from your treble stitches, is getting online. YouTube is a veritable goldmine of crochet how-to videos. I particularly recommend Bella Coco if you’re starting from scratch, who has a huge variety of extremely useful and easy to follow videos on all sorts of different projects — from blanket squares, to scarves and other clothing. Melanie Ham also has some nice videos, and I loved the process of creating this very cute hat and this one.
The great thing about crochet is that it is relatively quick — you can quickly build up proficiency, and if you do make a mistake, it’s quite easy to undo things and try again.
Nowadays, I use crochet as an opportunity to practice mindfulness — maybe I set myself up in a comfy spot at home, especially while the weather gets colder, and focus in on creating one new thing. It might just be a new stitch, it might be a whole project. But carving out even 15 minutes somewhere in my day to decompress, sit down, and do something so visible, direct and satisfying, helps to set the scene for mindfulness. Sometimes I meditate afterwards, or beforehand. Together, this practice has become incredibly renewing.
Intergenerational relationships are so vital. Crochet is an activity that has given me and my grandmother a whole new level of understanding — it’s something she’s done for decades, and just by engaging in the craft, I feel closer to her. We live half a world away from each other, so it’s the sort of thing that I can easily take a photo of, share and give us a reason to connect, despite age and distance.
One of my goals for next year is to start my own little crochet circle. This year I started a book club, and adore it and everyone involved — activities that promote valuable interactions with people in my life, while doing something I find inherently valuable and enjoyable. I think a crochet circle is just another expression of this very principle; a chance to have good discussions, while doing something I enjoy. Aligning our actions with our values makes for much more satisfying, richer activity.
Simplicity is the key to accessing mindfulness, in my books. An activity that combines interest, value and output is perfect for me, and crochet is something that is easy to slot in alongside other things I have to do in life. Every time I start crocheting, I’ve got another opportunity to stop, contemplate, focus and decompress. Every stitch is a chance to practice.
And with that, it’s back to my latest project — a blanket in time for winter!
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Originally published on Medium.com.