There's a new trend in town, although it's hardly new. Many of us probably have proof somewhere in our homes, possibly draped over a couch or boxed up in storage. What are we talking about? Crochet and macramé, once extremely popular in the 1970s in handmade decor and fashion, are seeing a resurgence.
Crochet involves interlocking loops of yarn, such as Mary Maxim yarn, or thread using a crochet hook. Anyone have a brightly colored crocheted afghan gifted from an older relative years ago? And macramé produces textiles using knotting techniques. A simple form of macramé that we've all probably done as a kid or with our kids is the friendship bracelet made with thread.
Recently, crafting has been on display in a fun and lighthearted television show on NBC, called Making It. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman host, so you get a dose of funny too. The show highlights that we're in a ‘maker's movement,’ where people want to create with their hands. There's something so satisfying about making a unique craft that you can't find anywhere else. You can proudly display it in your home or wear it, and when you get bored of it you can make something new. Handmade items also make for wonderful personalized and sentimental gifts!
There are some surprising health benefits from crocheting that are important to baby boomers too, especially when you consider number of people living with dementia worldwide is expected to triple by 2050. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that crocheting can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by more than 30%. Cognitive exercises that stimulate the brand like crocheting, patchworking, and knitting can drastically slow down or even prevent memory loss. In addition, crocheting can help ease anxiety, depression and chronic pain. There's new evidence to support crocheting’s “dopamine effect”. Dopamine is a chemical that serves as a natural anti-depressant in our brains. In the study by The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 3,500 people were surveyed about knitting. 81% of the respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting and more than half reported feeling "very happy."
Similarly, the satisfaction of creating something improves self-esteem, and simply focusing on the repetition of stitching and counting rows also keeps yours mind off of whatever ideas or thoughts may be causing stress in your life.
Lastly, crocheting can help alleviate insomnia, an all too common condition amongst boomers. Soothing activities that are easy and repetitive, like crochet, can calm down the body and brain and make falling asleep easier.
You may have read our article about how learning new things, especially things outside of your comfort zone, keeps your brain sharp. So if crochet or macramé seem daunting and make you sweat just thinking about them, maybe this is a perfect idea to put on your to-do list. If you're interested in learning crochet, visit Craftsy for an easy beginner's guide. For macramé, check out the Design Twins blog for a good tutorial. Give it a whirl and you may just end up with a new (and healthy) hobby!