Handmade: Use knitting, crocheting to exercise brain

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
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Dr. Charles Huebner, a rheumatalogist who lives in Petosky, feels there's more to being healthy than a well-balanced diet and exercise. He thinks it's also important for one to engage in activities that help sustain good mental health.

Huebner, who's just beginning to learn to knit and crochet, says, "Things like knitting and crocheting are so important for our overall mental health. There's a connection between the mind and body. I try to eat a really healthy diet and exercise, but I wasn't doing anything that was relaxing. We have to balance ourselves where we can really think and meditate."

Having tried his hand at knitting and "dabbling in a little crocheting" over the past four months, Huebner, 61, finds both to be much-needed stress relievers. "I can see I definitely want to continue doing this for a lot of reasons. It's creative, relaxing and it's easy," he says. "It's really stressful being a doctor these days because of the insurance companies — all the rules and regulations, the difficulty of meeting those rules and regulations, taking care of a lot of patients and trying to run a business. It's a high rate of physician burnout now."

A practitioner of rheumatalogy since 1990, Huebner taught himself to knit by watching Youtube videos after seeing his female employees and patients either reading, crocheting or knitting. Some of his patients have shown him how to do the purl stitch, however, he hasn't used it with a project. His wife, Melanie Manary, an M.D. who's "knitted in the past," told him what size needle he needed to use with the yarn he purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Huebner is hoping to develop his skills to the point where he can make things to give as gifts, like his male patient who made him the "most beautiful white afghan." He's looking at learning how to make socks and sweaters that he can give to others. The first thing he knitted was a large square which helped him learn how to cast on and bind off. He's currently knitting a garter stitch scarf, which he sometimes works on during his lunch hour. He says, "I'm going to give it to my wife. She's the light of my life."

Although he's yet to complete a crocheted project, Huebner says he's trying to decide which needleart he likes better. He considers both to be "great activities," but admits he's "leaning toward the crochet because it seems like it goes faster, and you only have to have one needle."

Feeling a little regretful about not having learned to knit and crochet sooner, Huebner says he's trying to let his two sons "know that real men can do things like knitting and feel good about ourselves."

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or For more craft news and giveaways,visit her blog at

ContactCharles Huebner at (231) 487-2150, or

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