Health Benefits of Crocheting and Knitting
Crafting, in general, has been shown to be beneficial for our health. Yarn crafts, like crochet and knitting, in particular, are helpful for those of us suffering from anxiety and depression. So, if you’re looking for something to take you mind off of major sources of stress in your life, picking up some yarn and a set of crochet hooks or knitting needles might help you out!
Yarn Crafts and Relaxation
Related to the anxiety and depression benefits you may notice, yarn crafts can help you relax. This older article from Lion Brand’s blog is particularly on point in light of social distancing: crafting can help you with “cabin fever,” making you feel less restless, bored, or frustrated. A common issue we’ve heard about with social distancing is the up-and-down emotions living through a pandemic can cause. Picking up a positive outlet like crochet or knitting can help provide you with a positive outlet to help balance your mood.
Communities Built on Yarn Crafts
I’m not a huge user of Ravelry, but I understand it is a great resource for building community amongst other crocheters and knitters. Beyond Ravelry, though, I have found that the crochet community on Instagram is pretty friendly. It’s fun to share what you’re working on and see what others are making.
Beyond social media, yarn crafts can provide community once social distancing lets up. Yarn stores, especially smaller independent stores, tend to have events and fairs from time to time. Chatting about your projects and what you’re planning on making is a great way to get to know people. In fact, that’s how I met one of my best friends from law school! I saw her knitting between classes and we started talking about what we were working on.
Yarn Crafts are Meditative
I have never been particularly good with meditation, although I know there are a bunch of health benefits that come from regular meditative practice. If you’re an antsy or anxious person, the idea of sitting still and silent for minutes at a time can be rough. Crochet and knitting are simple, repetitive motions, however, which can quickly become meditative. It gives you something to lightly focus on, leaving you free to let your mind go quiet.
Plus, for me, the idea of making something useful that someone might enjoy always makes me feel productive and good about the time spent.
How to Get Started Knitting or Crocheting
There are a ton of great resources online for learning to knit or crochet. Personally, I don’t know how to knit; I only crochet. I’ve toyed with the idea of teaching myself to knit, especially during this period of social distancing, but I’ve turned instead towards learning to read crochet patterns better.
Picking Your Yarn
First and foremost, before you decide whether you want to crochet or knit, you should consider what type of item you want to make. If you want to make something that can be washed and dried in the washer and dryer, I’d advise you to go with an acrylic-based yarn, as opposed to a wool-based yarn. Wool-based yarns will typically shrink in the dryer and will need to be hand washed and/or dry cleaned. Generally, a wool-acrylic blends, like this Lion Brand option, will not shrink in the washer or dryer, in my experience.
Some of my favorite machine washable yarn brands include: Lion Brand, Red Heart, Bernat Velvet Yarn (one of my new favorite yarn styles), Caron Simply Soft, and Lily Sugar ‘N Cream (I use this for my coasters!).
Where to Buy Your Yarn
JoAnn’s is my go-to store for crochet supplies. They have a wide variety of supplies and, pre-social distancing, walking around the yarn aisle was a favorite hobby of mine. Beyond having a great selection of yarns, JoAnn’s also has some great project bundles and instructions, for both knitting and crochet.
If you’re looking to make something that would be machine washable, I recommend trying out some of the many acrylic based yarns that they have. The next two resources I share here are amazing for learning how to crochet or knit, but many of the yarns are going to be dry clean only.
While I prefer to patronize local shops, smaller businesses, or to at least go in-person to JoAnn’s or Michaels to shop for yarn for crafts, Amazon does have a really strong yarn section. It’s great for when you know exactly what you need, and when you need it ASAP. They generally have really good prices, and even some deals, on acrylic yarn staples, like Red Heart Super Saver (my go-to).
Besides JoAnn’s, I tend to get a lot of my yarn from Michaels. They have good prices and a large variety of colors, styles, and brands. Their yarn page online has more than they offer in store, which is typical, so it’s a great resource if you’re looking for something super specific. I find that their Loops & Threads brand has some really great colors, especially gradients. For an example of one of their Soft & Shiny skeins in use (some of my favorites), check out these rainbow crochet coasters in my crochet shop!
Purl Soho is a great resource for all things yarn and thread-based. I always love visiting their shop in New York whenever I visit. It’s a really fun, beautiful shop if you get a chance to check it out. Until that opportunity presents itself again, they have a bunch of free patterns on their site, as well as patterns and actual kits you can buy, like the Learn to Knit Kit.
The UK based yarn shop Laughing Hens has really great prices and lots of awesome resources for new and veteran crocheters and knitters. They sell a lot of high end yarn brands, like Malabrigo (a favorite of mine because of their gorgeous rich dye lots), and King Cole. I’ve ordered from Laughing Hens a few times and have always been really impressed with the shipping speed, as well as the price.
Wool And The Gang
Wool And The Gang, along with We Are Knitters below, offers great resources, patterns, and kits for knitters. The site caters to knitting the most, but it also has sections for crochet, macrame, cross stitch, and embroidery. I’ve purchased a few types of yarn from them and have found them all to be of great quality, but they are a bit on the pricier side. They have a lot of fun yarns, though, like this colorful wool and this up cycled t-shirt yarn.
We Are Knitters
We Are Knitters is another great resource for all levels of crocheters and knitters. Whether you want to make an article of clothing or some kind of home good, there’s something for every kind of project here. If you’re looking to learn to crochet or knit, they have plenty of beginner level kits. If you want to pursue a more freestyle project, you can buy yarn and supplies from We Are Knitters or even yarn bundles!
As an outlet for all my crochet crafting, I run a crochet shop called Critter Crafting! Critter Crafting specializes in Cat Mats and pet blankets, but also offers beautiful handmade coasters and blankets for the home.
All of Critter Crafting grew out of a desire to keep the furbabies in our lives comfy cozy. My crochet Cat Mats are little pet blankets, simple pleasures for feline companions, who so often enjoy a nice cat nap in the sun.
*This post was originally published on October 19, 2020. It was most recently updated on August 9, 2021.