For Sutton Foster, Crochet Is a Survival Tactic

In her new book, “Hooked,” the Broadway and “Younger” actor opens up about how she collaged and cross-stitched her way out of anxiety and loss.

“These hobbies have literally preserved my sanity through some of the darkest periods of my life,” Sutton Foster writes in “Hooked.”Credit…Ellie Smith for The New York Times

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By Elisabeth Egan

Sutton Foster is finishing up a 15-week run at the Barbican as Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes,” a role for which she won a Tony a decade ago, and she is preparing to return to Broadway later this year to co-star with Hugh Jackman in “The Music Man.”

But before we got into all that, she wanted to show off a washcloth.

“They didn’t have any washcloths here in the flat,” Foster said during a video interview from London last month, “so I was like, ‘Well, I’ll make some!’” She plans to give them as Christmas presents.

When she isn’t performing onstage or onscreen (recently as one of the stars of the television series “Younger”), there is a decent chance that Foster is crocheting, cross-stitching, baking, drawing or gardening, hobbies she explores in her new essay collection, “Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life,” which Grand Central will release on Tuesday.

The chapters are craft-themed, but this book is not all about Mod Podge and Jo-Ann Fabrics. Foster, 46, writes about how keeping her hands busy has helped her cope with the stress and pressure of her career and the ups and downs of a life in which she didn’t always get what she needed from her family, loved ones or colleagues.

“Anxiety runs in my family — in me,” she writes. “I am the daughter of an agoraphobic mother. I make a living as a performer. It’s complicated. And yet, if I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I crochet, or collage, or cross-stitch. These hobbies have literally preserved my sanity through some of the darkest periods of my life.”

There are light moments, like when we learn that Foster crocheted an octopus toilet-paper-roll cover as a wedding gift for her “Younger” co-star Hilary Duff. But these are balanced with heavier revelations, such as when Foster writes about the baskets she cross-stitched for her mother as a means of escaping toxic cast dynamics early in her career.

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