Healing Through Crochet

Vicki Sulfaro learned to crochet when she was a young girl, with the help of an inspiring teacher. After a car accident in June 2000 left her with spinal injuries and chronic pain, she was afraid she would never be able to crochet again. As it turns out, crocheting to heal became a significant part of her life. She now crochets for her own health, but it’s also a way to give back to the world as she makes items for charities and teaches others to crochet.

When Vicki’s teacher taught her to crochet in the third grade, Vicki instantly fell in love with it. She crocheted regularly up until the accident. She was also very physically active, an avid hiker and a marathon runner in her home state of Washington.

Vicki was sitting in her car at a red light with her daughter, waiting for the light to change, when another car barreled into them at fifty miles per hour, severely damaging her spine. Although she has had two spinal fusions to repair the damage and continues to work with doctors to minimize her pain, the effects of the accident are lasting. Her daughter also suffered injuries, but has since recuperated. Whiplash from the collision initially caused her much pain and many physical problems, but she worked closely with a physical therapist to heal and quickly found herself able to crochet again. The first thing she crocheted after the accident was a dress for her physical therapist’s soon-to-be-born baby.

crochet heart

Crocheting to Heal

Vicki found that crochet was an integral part of her personal healing process. Chronic pain is exacerbated by stress in a negative cycle: more pain causes more stress, and more stress causes more pain. Vicki uses the relaxing effect of crochet to break this cycle. She picks up her hook and yarn and chooses a favorite pattern or works on a design of her own making. As she crochets, her body begins to relax, de-stress, and unwind from the pain.

Vicki realizes that her car accident could have been much worse, and she considers the life she’s living now her second chance. She is using the opportunity to live as fully as possible, and crochet is one way of doing that. Although her physical limitations can be frustrating, Vicki can use her talents in crochet to keep bringing beauty to the world. She does this by making items for others, teaching others to crochet, and crocheting for charities that she wants to both help and raise awareness for.

“When I crochet, I don’t think about how my body is now broken,” Vicki says. “I think about how I can create something beautiful and useful with my hook and either yarn or thread. I think the most healing part of crochet for me is that I am able to take something simple, such as a skein of yarn, and turn it into something beautiful and useful. Crochet has turned my life around. I can’t hike anymore, but crochet can take me places.”

Giving Through Crochet

Vicki says she is happy to bring this joyful outlet to others, and she spreads the word throughout her community – with the help of the doctors with whom she continues to work – that she is available to teach crochet. Teaching others is a way of bringing things full circle, because she offers a creative tool for healing and honors the teacher who gave her the gift of crochet. Vicki crochets hats for brain trauma victims, a unique variation of the “chemo cap” for people needing brain surgery rather than chemotherapy treatments. She also uses crochet to respond to local and national tragedies; for example, she works with a group to crochet “comfortghans” for local law enforcement officers wounded in the line of duty.

Vicki’s Tips to Keep Hooking On
  1. Don’t ever be afraid to try something challenging in crochet, even as a beginner.
  2. Continue growing in the craft by learning a new stitch or technique.
  3. Try making just one thing for charity to see how that feels for you. Simple hats and scarves are appreciated by many different organizations as donations.

Kathryn Vercillo is the author of Crochet Saved My Life. She blogs at www.crochetconcupiscence.com.

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