Crocheting for Solace
Kathie Helm is a crochet lover based in New York City who learned the craft from her great-grandmother. Crochet has seen her through some tough times, including her parents’ battles with cancer and living through Superstorm Sandy. She crochets every day because it’s an easy way to stay relaxed and do something she really loves to do. This “crochet therapy” also has Kathie channeling her creativity in order to make for others – a satisfying and rewarding exercise in giving.
Crochet Through the Generations
When she was about seven, Kathie learned to crochet from her great-grandmother. Nana crocheted doilies with cotton thread and a tiny crochet hook, and taught the basics to Kathie. As Kathie got older, she learned new stitches and crochet techniques from her mother. And as an adult, Kathie taught her own daughter to crochet. It’s a craft that ties together the generations of her family.
“When I crochet,” Kathie said, “I reflect on my memories of my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I enjoy creating items that others will love and cherish. I feel I am giving comfort to someone, which gives me a sense of peace and joy.”
Coming Back to Crochet
Kathie didn’t crochet continuously from childhood. She had children, and then she went to work… and just didn’t have as much time in the day to crochet. However, she’s recently rediscovered her love for the craft. She crochets more frequently now, making it a regular evening activity while watching TV.
Kathie loves to crochet for family members and especially for new babies, giving them a personalized, one-of-a-kind present as they enter the world. Blankets are her favorite projects, and she doesn’t care if the pattern is simple or complicated. Kathie also makes items to sell and to donate. “If there is a cause that is meaningful to me, I find solace in the work,” she said.
Crocheting for a Cause
One of the causes closest to her heart is Ronald McDonald House; she crochets and donates chemo caps as well as children’s afghans. Even if she’s helping in only a tiny way, she said, it’s something she can do with her own two hands to make a small difference. She knows how hard chemo treatments are because her mother is an ovarian cancer survivor and her father passed away from lung cancer; both of them had chemo treatments. “Watching them struggle with their illness is what motivated me to donate my work,” she said. “While my mom was going through chemo, she crocheted a lot. It helped keep her busy and concentrating on something other than what she was going through.”
In addition to teaching her daughter to crochet, Kathie has taught a few of her coworkers. Although she’s not involved in any local crafts groups, she participates in several online groups through Facebook, where she connects with other crafters. She occasionally crochets in the car during road trips and while waiting at doctor’s appointments, but Kathie usually crochets at home, with her husband and children nearby. In warm weather, she enjoys crocheting out on the deck. She said her husband supports her crafting, knowing how much she loves it, benefits from it, and truly enjoys doing it.
When I asked Kathie what brought her back to crochet, she said, “I find crochet soothing. When I am stressed or worked up about something, crochet helps me calm down and relax. The repetitive motion of the stitching is relaxing, and the concentration required for crochet helps focus me and redirect my thoughts.”
Life has so many little stresses, such as work, family, children, grandchildren, money . . . “It can all be so wonderful and so stressful at the same time,” she said. Crochet helps her stay calm and peaceful so that she can let go of the stresses and enjoy what is wonderful. She added that having her husband’s support for her crafting boosts how much it helps her.
Crochet did help Kathie cope during Superstorm Sandy. Because she lives in New York City, she and her family were right in the heart of the storm. “I crocheted a granny stripe blanket that week,” she said. “It kept my mind occupied during those terrible days on Staten Island. I named that blanket my Sandy Blanket. It’s on my bed, so every night when I go to bed and every morning when I wake up, I can look at that blanket and remember how lucky my family and I were that week. We did not lose anything, we did not get flooded, and we were safe. Many of our friends and acquaintances were not as fortunate.”
Whether she’s crocheting to get through a storm, to donate to a cause, to make a gift for a baby, or just because, Kathie celebrates the craft.
Kathryn Vercillo is the author of Crochet Saved My Life and Hook to Heal! 100 Crochet Exercises for Health, Growth, Connection, Inspiration and Honoring Your Inner Artist. You can find her online at www.crochetconcupiscence.com and www.kathrynvercillo.com.