Studies have found that crafting is good for mental health. The repetitive mindfulness of knitting, for example, has been found to have some of the same benefits as meditation. In a survey, many knitters said they did it for relaxation and stress relief, and that it helps with mental and emotional relief.
Although knitting and crocheting are not the same type of needlework, they are similar in that there is repetitive mindfulness. There's a food trend in crocheting right now, something that has grown out of the Japanese art form of amigurumi — crocheting small objects. This trend has crafters reaching for the crochet needle as both a hobby and a way to earn some money from their talents.
"Crocheting allows me to have fun with the craft and create items that not only make me happy but others as well," Lauren Espy, of A Menagerie of Stitches and author of "Whimsical Stitches: A Modern Makers Book of Amigurumi Crochet Patterns" told me. "I enjoy making things that I can keep around my home or gift to friends. Being able to pick up my crochet hook and yarn and create an idea I had sketched in my notebook is always the best part of what I do. My crochet shop is my full time job, and it never feels like a job for me. Even when I'm not working, I'm usually crocheting or knitting something for myself. It's sort of a zen type of thing where I feel more relaxed and in my element."
Espy's book has sold well since it was released last year, and she's working on a second book featuring new amigurumi like the turnip above.
Espy is just one of many people who are taking this relaxing craft and turning it into a business. She says people buy her artwork as gifts, and also to keep for themselves. Rebecca Reed, who sells her crochet creations on her Etsy store, BabyCakesStudios, says a lot her items are used as toys in little play kitchens for children. It's easy to imagine her little friendly doughnut pictured below in a play kitchen.
Adults find uses for her creations, too.
"A good amount of adults buy my work for themselves. A lot of my fruits and vegetables are linked to emotions like Lonely Lemon, Anxious Apple or Optimistic Orange. These do very well for gifts and are used as stress balls and holiday decorations," she said.
Like Espy, Reed says crocheting helps her relax, too.
"I found it really helped my racing mind and mild anxiety," she said.
Some crocheters create entire meals out of yarn, like this Christmas dinner.
Or, they create sweet treats that would also work well in a child's play kitchen.
Another use for these small, crochet vegetables is gifts for baby showers or Mother's Day.
Or, sometimes, you can simply find someone's guilty pleasure food (OK, MY guilty pleasure food), in crochet form.
If this zen type of craft work appeals to you, Espy offers advice.
"Most people I've met are super intimidated by amigurumi, and I always tell them there is nothing to be afraid of! If you know how to crochet, then you can totally make amigurumi," she said. "For people who have never tried to crochet and want to make amigurumi, I say just do it! I've seen people who have never picked up a crochet hook make some amazing things."