If you saw me on campus, I probably crocheted. This semester, I really chose crochet as something to spend my time with, something productive, rewarding, and calming. I have generalized anxiety disorder, which makes it hard for me to concentrate while my mind is racing. Crochet gives my hands and mind something to focus on that isn’t spiraling. It can even help me pay attention to what’s going on around me, like in class.
Most people perceive attention in a specific way: eye contact, sitting still, nodding. That’s not how everyone pays attention. For me, I learn best when my hands are active because I am an anxious kinetic learner. Some professors find these behaviors disrespectful, which is a long conversation to have about the expectations of neurodivergent and disabled people. I have spoken with some of my teachers who I feel safe with, however, and most are understanding when I explain my situation. If you have a learning disability and need additional accommodations, do not hesitate to contact your teachers for a better classroom experience.
Even if you don’t plan on crocheting in class, it’s still fun to accompany you around your own home. I enjoy crocheting while watching TV or lectures outside of class, and it makes me feel productive rather than just sitting and watching. For me, I’m constantly crocheting, no matter where I am or what’s going on around me.
When people on campus see me crochet, they often respond with amazement, compliments, and the statement, “I could never.”
I always answer: “It’s easier than it looks!”
Crochet uses a hook, wrapping yarn around itself to create chains and patterns. That’s all you need: a hook and yarn. Both can be found at your local craft stores. For cheap yarn for small projects, I often save money. I’ve found big bags full of random yarn for less than five bucks that I can turn into nice gifts. For larger projects, like a blanket, you’ll want to buy multiple skeins of the same yarn, which is easier to buy directly. I keep an eye out for Michael’s and Hobby Lobby yarn sales throughout the year, which range from 20% to 50% off.
I learned the art of crochet entirely through YouTube tutorials and a few exercises on my own. My current process is to find projects on Pinterest, then find a tutorial on YouTube, then follow all the steps. I’ve done it so many times that I can now pilot many projects or modify them to suit me better.
To start, simply practice crocheting a rectangle over and over. Practice doesn’t fix wavy lines immediately, but once you redraw the same rectangle a few times, you’ll see the results: a cleaner, more concise rectangle. The most important thing to practice first is tension, which is how hard you hold and hook your yarn. Having consistent tension throughout a project is the most important aspect.
Believe it or not, most things are just a bunch of rectangles crocheted together, like blankets, purses, and sweaters. Once you have these shapes, you can learn what is called the magic circle, which is the stitch used to create circular crochet shapes. From there, you can make stuffed animals, mittens, hats, granny squares and objectively anything. Amigurumi is a style of crochet that creates tight circles, which most people use to make stuffed animals.
For me, I mostly stick to the simpler projects, but even so, I’ve crocheted some beautiful things. My proudest piece would be my Sunflower Granny Square Tote, consisting of 18 Granny Squares with sunflower shapes inside and a large rectangular piece as a strap. I’ve also created purses, water bottle holders, a clutch (made for a card game) and more.
I stick with crocheting which is more muscle memory than anything else because my motivation for crocheting is how soothing it can be. My favorite pastime is disappearing into a show while I keep chaining one, single crochet 25, turn your work, chain one, single crochet 25, turning your work” until I have something beautiful. It gives a sense of accomplishment and a physical representation of my time.
I give away most of my projects as gifts if I don’t intend to use them myself. I have already given my mother a Christmas present and I have plans for the future. Sometimes I crochet things I have no intention of doing, so I just have a box of finished projects. I could use them as Christmas gifts, sell them, or give them to someone who falls in love with them like me.
I encourage everyone to try some sort of physical, creative craft, like crocheting, knitting, painting, or something like that. It helped me calm my mind and create beautiful artwork in the process, which can be used for thousands of purposes.