Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Health Benefits of Hand-Crafts (Knitting, Crochet, Quilting, etc.)

Do you crochet or knit? Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of crocheting or knitting?  You might be surprised to learn that leading universities and scholarly institutions have actually conducted a few research studies to prove that crocheting and/or knitting is excellent for your health.

If you live in an area where winter weather brings on “seasonal affective disorder” or winter blues, it might be a good idea to learn a hand-based craft such as knitting or crochet.  Experts recommend a hand-based craft because it can help to ease the symptoms of anxiety and/or seasonal depression.
What are the benefits?

May protect against aging:  A study from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences in 2012 showed that doing crafts such as knitting or crochet decreased the odds of cognitive impairment and memory loss by 30-50% in some people.  They also noted that hand crafts such as knitting, crochet, patchwork quilting, etc., promoted the development of neural pathways in the brain, which are necessary to maintaining brain health.

Relieves Stress:  Knitting or any craft that has a repetitive movement, it can help to relieve stress because the repetitive movement helps to release serotonin, which is natures anti-depressant.  Feeling better relaxes you, and that lowers your blood pressure.

Hand-crafts require focus, which takes you away from thinking about your problems.   It is similar to meditation in that you become so focused on something else that you completely lose track of time, and you are so completely absorbed that nothing else matters.   So, when you start knitting or crocheting your problems outside the act of knitting or crochet are put on hold, because your brain can only process a certain amount of information at any one time.  

Healthy Hands:  Knitting or crochet can improve your dexterity which keeps your hands healthy.
Pain Relief:  Just as hand-crafts helps to relieve stress it also may help to relieve pain in much the same way.  Our brains can only handle so much information at any one time. So, if you are knitting or crocheting your brain has to focus on the the physical act of knitting or crocheting as well as concentrating on the pattern instructions.  In essence, when you crochet or knit you brain becomes maxed out and it is harder for your brain to process the pain signals.

Weight Loss:  Hand-crafts may help with weight loss.  Most often people eat when they are bored.  Doing hand-crafts occupy a person and make it less likely that a person will eat due to boredom.

Eating Disorders: The University of British Columbia conducted a small study with 38 women who had been diagnosed and were being treated for Anorexia,  They were given knitting lessons and free supplies and asked to report the qualitative effects of knitting on their psychological state.

The patients reported a reduction in their anxiety when knitting.   74% (28/38) reported it lessened their fears and thoughts associated with their eating disorder.  74% (28/38) reported it had a calming or therapeutic effect. 53% (20/38) reported it provided the knitter with a sense of accomplishment, pride and satisfaction.

Although this is a small study it suggests that hand-crafts such as knitting may benefit patients with diagnosed eating disorders. 

As you can see there has been some research on the positive health effects of hand-crafts. Even though most of the health benefits haven't been substantiated by a clinical study.   Most crocheters or knitters probably would agree that hand-crafts is beneficial to their health.

** The above information is provided for your entertainment/information only.   The statements above have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnoses, treat, or cure any disease.  Please see a licensed physician for the treatment of all medical conditions.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Interested in learning thread crochet? Here are some valuable tips!

My first thread crochet project was a doily.  I love the delicateness of thread and how it brings a femininity to the area that the doily or thread project graces.  Doilies and table scarves are also done in a technique known as filet crochet.   A filet crochet pattern is read off of a chart and there are special instructions when following filet crochet patterns.  Filet crochet is a more advance thread crochet technique.

However, thread crochet has become more than just doilies and dresser scarves.  Thread is so much more than decorating tables, or nightstands.   Today thread is used to make wearables like scarves, tops, dresses and even shrugs. 

Thread crochet is a little different than crocheting with yarn, because the fiber and the hook are significantly smaller. Here are some tips for a successful and easier thread crochet experience.

1.) The crochet hooks are much smaller and the numbering system is different.  Remember, the smaller the number the bigger the hook size.  For example size 1 is big and size 14 is very small.

2.) Thread crochet requires that your tension is held firmly.  I had the most trouble with this concept, my stitches were never uniform.  Until someone told me something so simple..  When you are wrapping your thread through your fingers wrap you thread around your "Pinky" or little finger twice.  Remember, don't crochet so tightly that it hurts your hands.

3.) Steel crochet hooks are very small.  I had trouble with this because my fingers would always hurt.  So, I suggest finding thread crochet hooks with a bigger handle.   Clover makes the Armour brand and they have a nice comfortable handle.

4.) Thread has smaller stitches and therefore you will need to crochet in a well lit room.   Also, wearing your prescription glasses might be extremely helpful.

5.) As a beginner, I suggest using a lighter color thread which is easier to see.   Dark colored thread makes it harder to see the stitches.

6.) Thread comes in different sizes.  Sizes can range from 10 to 80.   Remember the rule about the crochet hooks?  It is the same for thread.  The smaller the number the bigger the thread, the larger the number the smaller the thread.

7.) Beginners should choose easy projects like doilies or coasters, until they have mastered the technique of crocheting with thread and a smaller hook.

Below are some easy thread crochet patterns.
Hearts Desire Doily
Pampering Gift Set

Easy Crochet Doily Pattern #2
Easy Crochet Doily Pattern 

This is only a small sampling of the crochet thread projects you will find online.  Usually, patterns indicate level of difficulty (easy, intermediate, advance).  Always take into account your level of expertise when trying new patterns. 

Happy Crocheting,
The Crochet Network

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What in the world is Amigurumi?

Amigurumi is the japanese art of crocheting or knitting stuffed toys. The prevailing opinion among Amigurumi crafters is that it is pure cuteness. Amigurumi has become popular throughout the world. There is a vast selection of patterns created by both independent designers and big publishing houses. Patterns can be free or they can be bought for a small fee. Whichever you choose to try, it will open up a whole new experience in crocheting or knitting.

Amigurumi patterns can be easy or very difficult. The skill level of the crocheter or knitter should be considered when choosing a pattern. A pattern that is to difficult for a crocheter or knitter will result in a experience that might be less than enjoyable. Below are some Amigurumi websites:

Patterns For Sale:
Suff The Body
These Patterns are very cute! I love the cats!

Little Owls Hut
The patterns on this website are very complicated and require advance crochet skills.  However. If you are up to the challenge you will not be disappointed. The are fabulously cute!

Free Patterns:
2000 Free Amigurumi Patterns
Free Amigurumi Patterns
Crochet Pattern Central

These are just a few of the thousands of patterns available.  If you have a favorite Amigurumi site, please feel free to share it here with your fellow crafters in the comments below.  Thank you for reading my blog.

Happy Crocheting
The Crochet Network

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tapered or Inline Crochet Hooks

The type of crochet hooks people use is often a choice of personal preference.  So, how do you know which one you will prefer?

Most often it is just trying out a hook until you find the one that is the most comfortable fit. 

Inline crochet hooks are especially good for those who are just learning to crochet.  The shaft and neck of an inline crochet hook has a consistent width, unlike the tapered hook which becomes smaller in the neck area.  This can cause the yarn loop to become smaller as it is pulled up the neck of the hook, making the stitches worked into the next row more challenging.  This can be frustrating to a beginning student and lend to a less enjoyable crochet experience.

Inline crochet hooks are a good choice for beginning crochet student.  Beginning crochet students have a tendency to have a tight grip which leads to their tension being tight.  Using an inline crochet hook makes it easier for crochet students to keep their crochet loops a consistent size.

Once you get past the beginning stage you can try other crochet hooks.  Sometimes it is necessary to change your hook style due to the yarn width or fiber that is being used. 

Everyone has their own crochet style. The best way to find out which hooks will work best for you is to take the time to try different brands of crochet hooks with different types of yarns.

Examples of Inline Crochet Hooks:
  • Susan Bates
  • Most bamboo crochet hooks
Examples of Tapered Crochet Hooks:
  • Boye
  • Clover/Armour
There are an abundance of different crochet hooks available.  There are many different brands and some beautiful handmade crochet hooks.  Your will likely find your favorite somewhere on your fabulous crochet journey.

Happy Crocheting,
The Crochet Network

Welcome to The Crochet Network blog

I hope you will enjoy the blog as this is a new experience for me.
It is my hope to provide you with valuable crochet information that will enhance your crochet experience.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Please visit our website:
The Crochet Network 

Happy Crocheting