crochet as a hobby

A return to an old hobby – discovering new crochet fun

Did you know that rediscovering a long-forgotten hobby could be an exciting journey full of unexpected surprises? I never would have imagined it when I started crocheting again. Hopefully, my experience will inspire you to do the same–give another chance to your old hobby or passion and enjoy the reconnection.

Somewhere in the middle of our moving from the Netherlands to Sweden, I was desperately looking for an activity to distract myself during the long, stressful trips between the countries. Reading didn’t work at all, especially when we were crossing Germany. Gosh, their highways (or Autobahn) completely dominated by the copycats of Michael Schumacher can contribute to anyone’s cortisol level and had a bad influence on my anxious nature… Okay, reading books was off the table. But then what else? Suddenly, I got a flashback to my childhood days, when we, girls, were sitting together and crocheting/knitting cloth for our dolls. That was it!

crocheting doilies

What is one of the truly creative ways to kill time while traveling? Crochet or knitting, of course! 🙂 All that you need is just a ball of yarn and a crochet hook in your hands–and the time flies without noticing what is happening around you. And a simple project, so you don’t have to pay too much attention to stitch and row count.

If you don’t know where to start, just look around–maybe there is a skein of yarn somewhere in your home waiting for its turn on your hook? Or maybe you saw a nice beach bag or a scarf on Pinterest and you like to make a one? When you decide, the ‘how to do’ is no problem anymore. There are zillions of free videos and tutorials online that will help you. Check www.ravelry.com–one of the largest pattern databases for knitters and crocheters in the world.

If you are going to have a flight, consider bringing plastic or bamboo hooks/needles. As the latter, I would advise you to take the circular needles, as your knitting movements will be less likely disturbing the persons next to you. And of course, don’t take your favorite or expensive tools in case they will be taken away. For more detailed tips, check here or there.

As someone who learned to crochet pretty early (I started at the age of 6), I thought I know all the tricks and secrets and that there were no crochet unknowns for me anymore. How wrong I was! While searching for something nice to make on the Internet, I discovered so many new techniques and tons of online communities of like-minded folks where people share ideas and experiences, ask for advice and help, show their makes, and just have fun together.

During the search, one of the most fascinating designs I came across was 3D crocheting. With this technique, the basic crochet stitches are worked in a variety of different ways to create outstanding textured patterns. My first 3D project was the Ulita doily by designer Alla Chikalova. And working on that doily was so huge crochet pleasure, that after the first one there was the second Ulita, and more doilies from Alla and the other 3D crochet designers 🙂

One of the well-known 3D crochet designs is the Ulita pattern by Alla Chikalova. It can be used for doilies or crochet rugs. If you like to re-create this gorgeous and breathtaking piece of art, you can follow the row-by-row Ulita video tutorial by Alla shared for free on YouTube

Later on, crocheting became a true lifeline during my long-covid. Then I was not able to do a lot, just stayed in bed suffering from breathing problems and fatigue. Whenever I could, I crocheted, even when it was just one row. And that has really distracted me from the nasty symptoms and eased the pain. For those who go through a difficult time, suffer from chronic bed-driven diseases, or are battling depression and anxiety knitting or crochet can really help to deal with the problems! There are multiple studies and reports about the beneficial health effects of yarn crafting. The scientists showed that knitting helps to reduce stress and anxiety, manage chronic pains, can improve cognitive and psychomotor functions, deflect dementia and even contribute to your happiness and enhance self-esteem.

Is Knitting (or crochet) The New Yoga?

During the pandemic, The New York Times published an article about the mental health benefits from craft activities and listed knitting among the practices that help to battle stress, depression and anxiety. According to Dr. Herbert Benson from Harvard Medical School, one of the earliest pioneers in Mind Body Medicine, the repetitive movements of needlework can elicit the ‘relax response’ of the body similar to the effects of meditation and yoga.

If you have a rough time and are looking for something calming, maybe you can give it a try? Once you get past the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can improve your physical and mental state by reducing heart rate, blood pressure and even lower the stress hormone cortisol and boost the production of serotonin and dopamine.

The doily obsession continued until one day my husband asked me, ‘What are you going to add with this pile of doilies?’ It was time to look for other crochet projects ;) And there they were! Free-form crochet, Irish crochet lace, micro-crochet, embossed and mosaic crochet, complex multicolored textured blankets. All these techniques I tried out are now implemented in my jewelry or yarncraft works. And there is still a lot to be discovered and tried out!

So what about you? If you are looking for a new challenging hobby or activity that can induce mindfulness and relaxation, crochet/knitting can be a good choice. Just pick up needles or hook and yarn to create scarves, hats, socks, mittens, sweaters, tablecloths, and blankets. It is an inexpensive hobby and easy to take up, given the zillions of free, online resources. Or maybe you have a forgotten hobby and it is time to revive your old passion? It’s never too late!

used bottles

Some interesting facts about stuff I work with

 

For my objects and jewelry, I use a plethora of materials and basic elements. Over the years I collected a sizable stock of glass bottles, boxes, jewelry findings, beads, and mirrors. I bought stock lots of yarn and fabrics and I built up a diverse collection of tools and instruments so I can tackle any assembly challenge imaginable. Read more

yohari jewelry and mixed media

A short introduction to Yohari

This website and the collection of creations and jewelry that became Yohari are the result of many years of unexpected developments and surprises that life sometimes offers. But most and for all, they represent the outcome of early acquired skills and growing love for natural textures, living colors, and authentic materials that breathe the tradition of the many cultures that represent our human heritage.

When I started my creative work in 2010, it was merely a distraction from a stressed occupation as a scientist. And very soon what started as just a hobby became a true passion. Since then I have experimented with different mediums, tried out and mastered various techniques, followed international art workshops, met amazing people, and learned a lot about the world of crafts and its community.

From my early childhood on I could find much pleasure in knitting and crocheting. In those days girls were usually taught those skills at a quite early age and the feeling of soft wool sliding through your fingers and the pleasure of seeing a garment grow from your needles forever stays in your memory. That same pleasure emerged from working with other materials I discovered, that produce similar tantalizing tactile sensations. I’m still surprised to find what can be created by just using your fingers.

 

An evening walk at the lakeside

Living close to nature reminds me every moment of the beauty, but also of the vulnerability of our world. In my small way, I try to take care by using and re-using items and materials from fair, organic, and natural sources as much as I can. Sometimes, those materials, their origins, or their stories, can be a source of inspiration by themselves, adding to ideas for Yohari projects or objects that cross my mind.

 

Simple things can lead to unexpected pleasure, like waste bottles that turn into colorful artifacts or used mirrors from a flea market that get a second life as an artistic decoration rather than a mere utensil. Or pieces of scrap sari silk that almost spontaneously turn into exotic bracelets.

And then there always is polymer clay, that plastic malleable mass that allows you to create any shape or mimic any material you like and that challenges you to stretch your imagination a bit further every time again.

As a result, Yohari is a mix of media and materials, of ideas and expressions, of crafts and skills that mingle into an artistic adventure, which outcomes fill this website.

Jana van Vliet Ostaptchouk from YohariHere, I would like to share with you the insights, experiences, inspirations, and discoveries from my journey into the world of craft. On Yohari, you also will find short stories and tutorials on how some of my pieces have been created as well as lots of useful and interesting information and links I came across over the last few years.

I hope you enjoy it

Yours, Jana