Handmade Heals: How Crochet Saved My Life


Since I was a child, I’ve always made things. I would use anything I could get my hands on paper, beads, fabric and thread. My mum taught me to knit but I never took to it. Although, I still loved browsing for wool in craft stores.

When I taught myself to crochet about six years ago, it was just another craft. A ‘why don’t I know how to do this?’ kinda thing. Not to mention, an excuse to buy some lovely yarn.

Handmade Helps - Steel & StitchA few years ago, I got out of a prolonged and traumatic situation and started afresh. That’s when it all came crashing down.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is something that happens when you’re in a life-threatening situation and you can’t get away. This can be from illness, a car crash or a war zone. Mine was the relentless threat of a genuine stalker.

Your brain short circuits. It starts using the short and dirty route, bypassing all the logical stuff and constantly takes you into a fight or flight state. It affects you while you’re in the park with the kids, on a school run or making the dinner.

All the physical things that happen to you when you’re in danger pop up out of nowhere, often months after the event. These include nightmares, insomnia, palpitations, shortness of breath and shaking with adrenaline.

handmade helps

Like a lot of people I just tried to live with it, although it nearly broke my family. The one thing that just about kept me together was crochet.

I didn’t learn it as a coping strategy. But, I found that the act of picking up some wool, counting stitches and finding a rhythm with my hands and the hook gave me some sort of peace. It’s engaging enough that you have to stay focus but simple enough that it doesn’t have to take all your concentration.

I started designing things for the children and then for the house. My husband would find me at 4 am sitting on the floor surrounded by yarn and working on a rug or a basket. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without crochet.

handmade helpsPhoto from Big Hook Crochet

Eventually, I realized I needed help, went to my doctor, and he referred me to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. My therapist incorporated crochet into my therapy. During a panic attack she encouraged me to stop, breath and imagine the feel of the hook, the look of the yarn and how the stitches are formed.

I only had 10 CBT sessions but it changed my life. I still get triggers. But, now I have the tools to help accept what’s happening to me and use crochet support it.

handmade helpsPhoto from Crochet Dress-Up

All that making in those crazy, desperate hours had an unexpected positive side. The children’s patterns I wrote became my first book. And the homewares patterns, my second book. Now I’m a full-time freelance crochet designer and qualified teacher. I write for magazines, design for publications and run workshops.

All that making in those crazy, desperate hours had an unexpected positive side. The children’s patterns I wrote became my first book. And the homewares patterns, my second book. Now I’m a full-time freelance crochet designer and qualified teacher. I write for magazines, design for publications and run workshops.

Crochet also turned out to be a really special way of reaching out to people. It’s a shared ‘tool’ that a lot of makers turn to. It’s given me courage to share my experience and find that I’m not alone. None of us are.

Emma


handmade helpsEmma Friedlander-Collins

Emma lives in South East England with her young family. In 20011, she started designing and selling crochet patterns on Etsy. Her unique approach and unusual designs has made her an innovative crochet designer and online success.

Emma’s books Crochet Dress-Up and Big Hook Crochet can be found online and in book stores. She has been featured in Mollie Makes, Simply Crochet, Inside Crochet and Love Crochet magazines, and has contributed to a number of online and paper publications. Emma has also collaborated with Hoooked Zpagetti and her yarn photography has been featured in The Guardian and LoveCrochet.

Emma is a qualified teacher and runs various workshops. To connect with her:

Email

Website

Instagram

Samantha Meldrum
About me

Samantha Meldrum is the Editor and Curator. Handmade Curator is a creative blog and creative community. Every day we connect thousands of people with designers, artists, makers and bloggers.

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