For Kathryn Vercillo crocheting became something even more meaningful. She has written a book about how crochet helped her, and several other women, heal after mental and life afflictions.
I am so happy that Kathryn has agreed to an interview about herself and her book.
Me: When and from who did you learn to crochet? If you hadn't known how to crochet before do you think you would have thought to turn to it during your deep depression?
KV: I originally learned to crochet the basic chain from my mother when I was a child. I didn’t crochet again until I was deep in the midst of depression in my mid-twenties. At the time I was trying all of the advice I could for healing and I’d heard somewhere along the way that what you’re meant to do as an adult is what you enjoyed doing as a child. I tried to think back and I could remember that I always used to make friendship bracelets. For some reason, crochet came to mind and I decided to try that.
I actually asked my mom to teach me again but neither of us could quite figure out how to do it using the information in her old crochet magazines. I ended up mostly re-teaching myself using kids’ crochet books. I did use YouTube videos to get the basic loop down but after that I found books worked better for me.
So, for me, I turned to crochet during this time because it was similar to crafts I’d enjoyed as a child. As readers will learn in the book, I tried dozens of different things to interest me during my depression from dance classes to business classes and nothing really stuck. Crochet worked because it was creative but easy and affordable.
Me: I know you have always liked to write. Have you always been crafty too?
KV: I am definitely wordy first and foremost and writing was always my primary craft. But yes, I’ve also always done lots of other crafts. My mom is pretty crafty and would also pick up little kits for us to try so I learned many different things, and of course kids always do crafts in school. I especially enjoyed jewelry making, particular crochet, and I’ve always liked collage and scrapbooking, which I still do today.
Me: I find the counting in crocheting very comforting. What is it about crocheting that you find comforting/healing?
KV: I find the counting to be comforting as well although I didn’t realize that until really recently. I do the counting even when I don’t “need” to (when I’m already familiar with the stitch pattern, etc.) and I was mostly unaware that I was doing that until I started reading about the relaxing benefits others experienced and saw that I did, too.
For me, though, the primary thing that is comforting about crochet is the combination of immediate focus with an end goal in mind. So on the one hand, I benefit from getting my mind off of whatever is going on in my life and focusing mindfully on the present moment of creating loop after loop. And yet, it is important to me to have an end goal in mind, a product that I’m making, because that gives a purpose to the project. I hate feeling unproductive so this is a way I can feel productive and yet be immersed in the moment.
Me: Which woman in your book did you find yourself connecting with the most?
KV: That is absolutely a tough one. These women shared the most intimate details of their difficult times with me and so in a certain way I connected to each and every one of them. The stories about depression obviously resonated most with my own experience since that was what I had dealt with.
I also really resonated with the story that Laurie told about a lifetime of abuse complicated by a negative experience with a therapist. The reason I connected with that one wasn’t that I shared the experience exactly but I had spent several years working with abused children and saw a lot of PTSD complicated by really poor handling of the kids by various professionals after the initial trauma so Laurie’s story just brought back a lot of raw memories of my work from that time.
I think this excerpt from her book intro explains how crocheting helped her.
"Of course, crochet alone could never have taken me out of that desperate place. It is a craft, not a cure-all for serious illness. And yet I am also fairly certain that I could never have loosened myself from the grip of that depression without crochet. I was stuck in between that proverbial rock and a hard place and my crochet hook served as a crowbar to begin prying me out of that difficult space. I hardly knew that it was happening and yet that hook dug deep down into the core of my being and lifted me into a space where I could once again begin to breathe. In the most basic and obvious way possible I was creating a life for myself simply through the act of creating.
A year later, breathing and healing, I was not only crocheting but also beginning to live my life again. I was beginning to meet other people who also enjoyed literally crafting a life for themselves. I had been a professional blogger/ freelance writer for approximately ten years and found the medium comfortable so I decided to start a crochet blog where I found an expansive community of like-minded crafty people. As I began to share my thoughts and feelings with this community, I began to see that I was not the only one who felt that crochet had been critical to saving one’s mental health. In fact, it became obvious to me that it is more often than not the case that crocheters feel that they experience some personal health benefits from the craft although that may not be their main motivation for crocheting.
Crochet heals. Crochet saves lives."
I want to give huge THANK YOU to Kathryn for letting us get to know her, and about her book better. If any of you would like to look more into her book you can find it here and learn more about it on Kathryn's blog Crochet Concupiscence.