As many of you would know there is a movement to ban single use plastic in Australia. Here in Melbourne many stores are 'attempting' to join the plastic free journey, this has meant for many the re-introduction of the humble crocheted cotton bag. My cousin saw one that I had made recently and asked if I would make one for him and of course I said yes! Not only was it an opportunity to crochet (I never knock this back) but it was also the opportunity to support being plastic free. So, I grabbed some of my trusty cotton yarn and set about deciding which pattern to make (this can be a project in itself sometimes!!!).
I quickly decided on making a granny square bag because I don't need a pattern and this means I can go into my happy place (repetition, regulation and relaxation). I started crocheting my continuous granny as the basis for the bag and I think I was about 5 rounds in and started thinking about my first successful attempt at granny squares.
I had been working as a case manager with young people in Out of Home Care and had been helping a young woman move into her own home. Unfortunately, she didn't have many people in her life that she could count on to help so I found myself piling all of her belonging into my little Hyundai. The move was successful but I did manage to slip a disc in my lower back during the process! I spent the next several weeks unable to stand for any length of time and couldn't walk on my own for nearly a week. For anyone who knows me, this was diabolical! I am not great at sitting and doing nothing, I go stir crazy pretty quickly and am renowned for creating havoc in an office environment when I have been sitting for too long!
An amazing friend of mine (thank you Glenys) came to visit while I was incapacitated and brought her crochet along with her. I had heard of crochet before, my Nan crocheted when I was little and I remember her trying to teach me. Nan was left handed and I am right handed, so it didn't translate very well and all I can remember was a little bit of mess and a whole lot of frustration (although I think most of the frustration might have been Nan's because attempting to teach me would have been a trial!). I learnt the basic stitches that day: chain, double and treble crochet and Glenys stayed until I could fashion a crude semblance of a granny square without it completely disintegrating in my hands.
Crochet provided me with an opportunity to relax and kept me in the moment rather than being filled with angst about wanting to be up and about, or worrying about what was happening at work, or anxiety about the possibility of long-term damage to my back. Every time I felt as though my mind was going in one of these directions I refocussed on what I was doing, the feel of the yarn, the yarn over the hook, the hook through the stitch and repeat. I was practicing a form of mindfulness without being aware of what I was doing.
Over the next couple of weeks while my movement was restricted I spent most of my time sitting in my chair crocheting up a storm. I made an indeterminate number of giant granny square blankets that friends and family made appropriate noises of appreciation over (thank you all for that!) when I handed them out.
Crochet was the biggest contributing factor to maintaining some semblance of my (and my husbands) sanity while I was incapacitated. What I learnt very quickly was that the rhythmic, repetitive, soothing motion of crochet combined with the soft tactile yarn kept me distracted from the pain and kept me calm and focussed on the now. Over the years I have continued to crochet and have used it as a way to regulate and soothe when I have been feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed. These days I have a better understanding of what the rhythmic, repetitive motion does in combination with the sensory input of the yarn to the brain, more importantly though, I continue to get the benefits from crochet and am glad that I can share this with you.