Nicole Nikolich: A Yarn Bomber’s Tale of Hope - OC87 Recovery Diaries

Nicole Nikolich: A Yarn Bomber’s Tale of Hope


Let me take you back to July 2020, four months after the pandemic shut down life as we knew it. Video production came to a grinding halt. And while Zoom was suddenly everywhere and meeting virtually was becoming a thing, meeting together in person to film something just wasn’t happening.

I had met with Nicole Nikolich pre-pandemic, and we were both so excited to make a short film about her emotional rebirth after discovering crochet. But I couldn’t do this remotely. It had to be in person. So, we took a collective deep breath, created our COVID protocols, restricted our filming to outdoors, and decided to go for it.

I remember us all being apprehensive about this first step into pandemic era filming—wearing masks, wiping down the equipment (and our hands) after anyone touched anything, keeping as far apart as possible. I remember worrying about lunch—should we eat separately? Do we wear our masks in between bites? It was such a stressful, unnerving time.

That day, however, Nicole’s story of hope cut through all of the tension that we had amassed over the initial months into the pandemic. Her joyful spirit and great sense of humor was an additional bright light on an already sunny day as we filmed outside.

Nicole has wrestled with anxiety and depression throughout her life, and crocheting has been an essential part of positive mental health and wellness.

At a particularly low period in her life, she found herself at a loss for how to quiet the racing thoughts in her mind. She stumbled upon a television news report about yarn bombing, and everything kind of clicked. Her path was revealed. She picked up a crochet needle, taught herself how to crochet (credit due to YouTube University), and hasn’t put down the crochet needle ever since.

Her passion for crochet has evolved into a force for artistic and political expression. Nicole is a self-confessed “craftivist” who uses her art form to promote issues about equality, LGBTQ issues and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  She is a proud member of the vibrant Philadelphia street art community and has found support by her craftivist colleagues.

“Crocheting has absolutely been successful in just calming me down, bringing me back to the present moment. It’s my work practice, it’s my spiritual practice, it’s my medication. It’s like all of these things in one that you wouldn’t think when you just see some yarn, which is really cool.”

Hopefully, all the COVID mishegoss will soon be a thing of the past, but Nicole’s works—colorful, bright, engaging, funny—will live on. And her story is continually inspiring.

For Nicole, crocheting is a profession, but also a calling. I’m so grateful we took the careful, necessary steps to make this film happen in such uncertain times. And I’m very happy to share it with you again. I hope you are inspired by this yarn bomber’s tale of hope and that you can “be in the moment” with Nicole as she creates and beautifies our world.


EDITOR IN CHIEF: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

See Related Recovery Stories: Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health Short Films

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.