Book Review: Crochet Saved My Life

A guest post by The Animator's Wife.

Crochet Saved My Life. It wasn't until I first saw the title of this book that I realized all that crochet has done for me. Sure, I joke about being a crochet addict, but perhaps for me--and for others--crochet is just a little bit more.

In Crochet Saved My Life, author Kathryn Vercillo bravely accounts her decent through depression and how she managed to climb back out of it, crochet hook in hand. "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," she details. It may sound corny to those removed from the yarn world, but what is crochet but a form of fiber art? How many artists of other mediums have found therapy in their work?

I know I have. It just never occurred to me until recently.

Those of you who have been long-time readers of Selena's blog know about my most recent battle with a pituitary tumor and infertility. I remember at one point being so devastated at the thought of not having a family of my own that I just didn't feel like crocheting anymore, and it was only when I made the decision to start living again that I picked up the hook and began to feel better. It's hard to believe that saga of my life began only three short years ago. So much has happened since then, but I haven't stopped crocheting. While I may still have the tumor, it isn't currently causing me any problems, and I now have the most precious baby girl to keep my mind off it for now.

But what most of Selena's readers don't know is how I came to be crocheting in the first place. It was 1996. I was twelve years old, just beginning that awkward and confusing journey into adulthood. My parents had just gotten divorced, and my mom moved my sister and me 1000 miles across the country to live with my aunt in Wisconsin until she got back on her feet.

To my twelve-year-old self, this was the end of the world. I didn't understand why I couldn't live with my dad anymore. I had to give up my two pet cats. And I left all my friends behind, including Nick, my then crush--the boy who I would marry 10 years later, who Selena refers to as The Animator. At the time I blamed the end of my world on my mom, and since my sister was only six, I didn't feel like I had anyone I could talk to (although my adult self is more understanding of the decisions my mom made).

It was one day during this time at my aunt's house that my aunt, a home ec teacher, was crocheting a baby blanket. I took an interest in what she was doing, so she taught me the basic stitches. I was immediately addicted. Once I got the hang of it, it was soothing to me to be able to sit and do something mindless while my brain sorted through things, while at the same time having something to show for myself at the end. And as I learned how the stitches worked together, I began to come up with my own creations. I didn't care that at the time it wasn't really a "young" person's craft. For me, crochet was a friend I could turn to during a lonely time in my life.

And I'm not the only one who has been befriended by crochet in this way. Kathryn Vercillo gives many accounts in Crochet Saved My Life of how crochet has helped others, from empowering a woman who was a victim of rape, to helping a woman who suffers from hallucinations keep her grip on reality, to comforting a woman who is going blind. This book is a must-read for any crocheter who has ever felt alone or like no one else understands. If you only have time to read one book this year, make it this one.

*Crochet Saved My Life is available in paperback and on Kindle.