Why do I knit?
Like many people, I learnt to knit from my Mum. She taught me to sew, to knit, to cook, how to garden. I love making things. It’s just what we did. We crafted together. You can read more about that here.
I knitted through my teens and early twenties. But I had to stop when I started to develop RSI, which led to a few operations for tenosynovitis. My ‘day job’ took all my available wrist-use-time. But when I came back to knitting about 10 years ago, I’m glad I did. How many times have you been stuck in a waiting room, impatiently waiting for an appointment? To me that is knitting time. Or on a long train journey? Knitting time.
For me, knitting is not just about making things though. It is about a sense of achievement, a sense of community and a sense of calm. I wrote a blog post about this a couple of years ago in answer to a question that Kate from the A Playful Day podcast asked: “What does making mean to me?”.
When I came back to knitting after a long break, things had changed so much! There is Ravelry for a start. And a great online community of knitters. And there are so many great fibre festivals to attend where you can meet your ‘tribe’. I’m off to Edinburgh Yarn Festival again soon, and I’m ridiculously excited about it, spending time with my Best Knitting Friend, meeting old friends, making new ones. And possibly buying a skein or few of new yarn.
When I first started knitting, I went to the local yarn shop (called a ‘wool shop’ back then), bought a pattern, bought the yarn, then went away and knitted said item. Then, and only then, did I return to the shop for my next knitterly fix. Well, that’s changed a bit now … I have many projects on the go at once and I could probably open a small yarn shop of my own with the contents of what I refer to as my Yarn Museum.
But back to the point …
Why knitting is good for you.
You’ve probably heard the old joke that “knitting is something for your brain to do whilst you are talking”. Or seen the project bags that say “I knit so that I don’t kill people”.
But knitting really can be good for your wellbeing.
A while back, I attended a great talk by Heather Ordover (who hosts the CraftLit podcast – well worth a listen. Perhaps whilst you are knitting?). She talked about what she calls Cognitive Anchoring. She explains it much better than I can here. But in a nutshell, it’s all about doing something automatic with your hands, which is what your brain needs in order to stop you from fidgeting. It could be knitting. It could be crochet. It could be doodling.
And this article from Psychology Today talks about using knitting as a relaxation tool. This strikes a chord with me. Remember I said that I knit in waiting rooms? If I’m having an anxious wait at the doctor’s surgery, or at the dentist, I’d far rather be calming my mind with a bit of gentle knitting than chewing my nails or watching the clock.
The health benefits of knitting are also well explained in this piece in the New York Times.
Not convinced? Why not try it for yourself. Choose a simple, small project. For me it’s a pair of plain socks or a hat. Carry it with you. Then next time you are killing time at the dentist, awaiting your turn at the doctor’s, or waiting for the kids to finish their swimming lesson (you get the idea), just whip out your knitting. And not only will you end up with a unique, handmade item, you will have improved your mental health. And perhaps not bust a blood vessel. Please just don’t tell me that “knitting is the new yoga” – that sends my blood pressure through the roof!
How do I learn to knit?
But what if you can’t knit? Never fear – I will address this in my next blog post!
Why do you knit?
If you already knit, I’d love to hear what benefits you get from it… add a comment below or hop over to the GardeningWitch Designs Facebook page to join in the conversation!