It's often been said that knitting is a beneficial hobby because it's cheaper than therapy, the joke being that a few minutes or hours with sticks and string can soothe the spirit as much as talking it out would, all for the price of a little merino.
This statement is usually made in a joking manner, but for the knitters who share their stories in Cheaper than Therapy: Joy, Healing & Life Lessons in Fiber, edited by Annie Modesitt, knitting and crochet really are healing.
The Healing Power of Fiber
The crafters whose stories are found in Cheaper than Therapy come from all walks of life and have varying skill levels and time spent with their craft. Some learned as kids and picked it up again when something traumatic happened in their lives; others learned later in life but embraced yarn and needles or hook with abandon.
All used knitting or crochet to see them through difficult situations, whether that be the death of a loved one, social anxiety, fibromyalgia, divorce, a busy life or a snowy day.
There are stories of learning to knit, teaching others and learning from knitting and crochet as well. Again and again these authors use yarn to get from a dark place to what Drew Emborsky calls a "new buoyant way of feeling," what Melissa Shaw describes as "advanced therapy" and Mary Ann Mitchell sees as a "defense against darkness."
One knitter was learning to knit just as the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, took place. Another learned on a plane to Scotland, five months pregnant and overcome by nausea. One remembers a single sock knit by her mother; another a crocheted blanket.
Knitting is seen in these essays as a connection to the past, to others and to ourselves, a way to move beyond our personal problems and back out into the world and a means of approaching ourselves with more kindness, too. Not bad for a craft that's often disparaged by people who don't take part in it.
These essays in Cheaper than Therapy are mostly quite brief and the book is short, too, so you can come back to it again and again for brief moments when you need to be reminded to stick to your knitting, or read it in a weekend and come back to your craft and your life with a sense of renewal.
The stories will probably get you thinking in a way you might not have before about the power of knitting or crochet in your own life and what it has done for your mental, physical or spiritual health. It may not really be a substitute for therapy, but it is powerful stuff.