OLEAN, NY— Afghans take a few weeks, and hats and scarves, a few hours.

“You can make vests and even jewelry; you can crochet almost anything,” crafter and reference librarian Christine Zeitler said about the upcoming monthly crochet classes at the Olean Public Library.

Crochet is a 19th century art form developed in Europe that is similar to knitting, using yarn to create a variety of products with colorful patterns.

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Knitting is Zeitler’s forte, but from experience, she knows how relaxing crocheting can be.

“Crocheting is very therapeutic and meditative,” said Zeitler, “I’ve read studies that say crafts like crocheting use both parts of your brain—the mathematics side and the creative side,” she said.

Studies confirm Zeitler’s claim.

In 2015,  news outlet CNN reported that studies done on those who craft point to potential positive aspects in spending time knitting, crocheting and drawing or investing time in any other crafty art form. According to CNN, “‘Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging.’” 

To provide a therapeutic outlet for the general public, the Southern Tier Recovery Activities Without Walls program, a mental health recovery center dedicated to improving mental stability, will sponsor beginning crochet classes at the Olean Public Library, 134 N. Second St.

Darcy Dwaileebe, a representative of STRAWW, collaborated with the library to provide the classes each third Tuesday of every month. The beginning crochet classes will debut at 10a.m. on Feb. 21.

Librarian Sheryl Soborowski said the classes will reflect the importance of inclusion.

“It’s about blending into the community,” Soborowski said, explaining that the classes are open to everyone in hopes that those dealing with mental health disorders will interact with community members.

STRAWW will provide all supplies for this creative outlet. The program is free, and space is unlimited, said Zeitler, who enjoys participating in many of the events hosted at the Olean Public Library.

“It should be a wonderful opportunity to get people interested in a very old craft,” Zeitler added.

To register for beginning crochet classes, please call the Olean Public Library at 716-372-0200. 

STRAWW is located at 512 W. State St.