Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Special Interview: Kathryn Vercillo

Remember when I mentioned Kathryn Vercillo and her cool crochet survey? Well, I've got a treat for you today! Kathryn is here to join us to talk about her crochet experiences. She is author of the book Crochet Saved My Life. Her blog, Crochet Concupiscence, is amazing and covers so much material that I once called it "the vortex of crochet". Kathryn is a lovely person with a lot of passion and talent. I'm very pleased to share her story with you.

Hey, Kathryn! Tell us a bit about you.
I’m a mid-thirties San Francisco based freelance writer originally from Tucson, Arizona. I’ve done a variety of different writing and crafting over the years but have really found my niche in the intersection between creativity and psychology. I love exploring the ways that creative pursuits (particularly writing and crochet) can help us achieve healthy, fulfilling experiences in life. This is the work that I’m doing now and that I’m driven to continue doing. Last year I started a graduate school program to get a degree in Integral Counseling Psychology, which is a combination of Eastern and Western psychological whole-body approaches to wellness. I hope to keep adding what I learn to my perspective on using crafting to heal.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
I originally learned to crochet from my mother when I was young. She’s a really creative woman who introduced my siblings and I to a variety of different arts and crafts throughout our childhoods. I didn’t stick with crochet at the time but when I went through the worst period of my depression, which I wrote about in Crochet Saved My Life, I decided to learn again. She helped me a little bit, although it had been so long since she’d done it that she had to re-learn as well. I got myself a kid’s crochet book out of the library in 2009 and taught myself from there. Mom and I have both been crocheting again ever since.

Crochet Favorites
I’m a Boye girl when it comes to hooks. Lately I’m loving bigger sizes (L, N) but the G/H is always a good go-to for any project. In yarn I like softness so baby alpaca, cashmere blends and silk blends top my list. My favorite basic crochet stitch is the hdc, my favorite advanced technique is broomstick lace and my favorite pattern is a repeating fpdc, bpdc square.

How did you get into writing and blogging?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. It’s always been a passion of mine. I did a series of other jobs throughout my late teens and early twenties (bookstore work, daycare centers, group homes, portrait photography, social work) but I just kept coming back to writing. I decided to make it my full-time career about ten years ago.

In order to make a living at it, I had to take on just about every writing job that came my way. I’ve written everything from gadget reviews to horoscopes. And that’s how I fell into blogging. I didn’t really know much about it when I was hired as a technology news blogger but I learned the ropes quickly and soon realized that I really love the medium. I write other things as well (articles, columns, books) but blogging is great because it’s interactive, real-time, and conversational. I’ve done blogging for other people as well as for myself. I started Crochet Concupiscence in January 2011 as a creative outlet where I could share my growing love of crochet and connect with the crochet community. Most of my blogging time now goes to that blog because I love it so much.

How do you find all of the awesome content that you post on your blog?
I really love staying on top of everything that’s going on in the crochet world and the blog kind of gives me a good excuse to do that. I subscribe to about 300 crochet blogs through my Feedly reader and I try to read most of those posts each week, sharing the best ones in my Link Love roundups on the blog on Saturday. I also subscribe to a number of crochet newsletters and magazines and try to get my hands on the new crochet books when they come out.  

In what ways did crochet help you with depression?
I dealt with chronic depression for about fifteen years, although I didn’t know that’s what it was until it hit a crisis point in my late twenties. It got so bad that I was barely getting out of bed, barely making ends meet and feeling really awful about myself. There weren’t many things that I could do but I kept reaching for inspiration to pull myself out of the darkness. I remembered that I liked crochet as a child and that’s when I decided to learn it again. It was magical in the way that it began to help me.

Crochet was something that I could do alone, in my house, no matter how bad I felt. It was soothing, because it would break up the ruminating mind that made my depression worse and it would calm down the anxiety that accompanied that depression. It was healing because it helped me to feel creative and productive again. I was having trouble writing because my mind was just so dark at the time but I could create again with my hook and yarn. I’m no longer in that dark place thanks to crochet as well as therapy, medications, life changes and a strong support system. Crochet continues to be a daily party of my wellness plan to keep me from slipping back into that place.

What inspired you to write Crochet Saved My Life?
I started sharing some of experiences with the benefits of crochet on Crochet Concupiscence and kept getting amazing responses from other people who had found crochet to be healing. I could see that this was something that a lot of people had experienced but I did my research and not too many people were actively talking about it. There were snippets of information here and there but no single source for better understanding how crochet heals. I saw that as an important thing that was missing from this world and decided to share my story.

As I was writing it, I continued blogging about the topic and asked other people if they wanted to share their crochet health stories. The response was overwhelming. I knew that I had to share the stories of some of these other women as well. Although I initially began the project to tell my story, I was inspired to keep going with it because these women had trusted me with their stories. In the end, about two dozen women were interviewed about their experiences and their stories were shared in Crochet Saved My Life along with the available research. 

A short excerpt...
“I couldn’t do almost anything and yet the one thing I could do was to move a crochet hook back and forth through yarn, repeatedly pulling one loop through the next to create fabric out of air so thin I could barely breathe in it. Since it was one of the only things that I could do, it became imperative to my mental health that I go ahead and do it. When I first started to crochet, that feeling of temporary relief from the muted chaos of depression was the only reason I was crocheting.”

What projects are you working on right now?
I just launched a crochet health survey to collect information about how crochet helps heal people. I want to gather more detailed crochet-specific information than what exists out there already, so this is the project I’m most excited about right now. I’ll be doing an in-depth analysis on the results and putting together a report and probably some articles.

I’m also putting the final touches on Hook to Heal, my next book. This is a creativity workbook of exercises for crocheters who want inspiration for using crochet to heal, delve deeper artistically, etc. It’s got a 2014 release date although I’m not sure yet of the exact month it’ll be out.

In crochet, I’ve always got some large blankets in the works and that’s true now, of course. I’m currently exploring more with crochet art and playing around with some variations on hyperbolic crochet for that. In technique, I am exploring how to match different variegated yarns (playing with patterning). And I’m starting to make some washcloths to pair with soap/ lotion for Christmas gifts this year.

What are your goals for the future?
I really feel that I’ve found my niche in using writing to help others explore healing through creativity. I’m not sure where that will go in the years to come but I’m open to the journey. In the short term, I’ll be continuing with my Masters Degree program and will likely move into a PhD program after that. I’ll keep on book writing, blogging and crocheting! 

Wow! What a resilient and inspiring woman. Thank you for being so open and for helping others. We'll all be on the lookout for great things from you in the future.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this interview. Your support is so appreciated!

    1. As is yours! That's one of the reasons I love you, you're really good at highlighting how supportive and collaborative the crochet community is.

  2. GRACIAS !!!! por la entrevista y por compartir las experiencias de cómo favorece a nuestras vidas el tejido, particularmente en mi caso el crochet, solo quienes hemos estado en situaciones límite lo podemos entender .... y no siempre tenemos la palabra exacta para definirla, nuevamente GRACIAS !!!! <3 <3


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