Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting

Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting  By Janice Jones
|updated 11-20-2023

Nowadays, when so many options are available for buying items, why do people choose to knit or crochet instead?

For a long time, knitting and crocheting have been admired by passionate artisans. However, you don't have to be an experienced knitter to know that these needlecrafts provide a positive impact. I believe that some of the reasons I will describe below are why knitting and crocheting have recently grown in popularity.

I want to discuss the source of my enthusiasm for yarn art later.

Pictured here is yarn alongside knitting needles and crochet hooks. These components are integral to knitting and crocheting, each providing many health benefits.

Yarn with knitting needles and crochet hooksHealth Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting

The positive effects on your well-being of engaging in activities such as knitting or crocheting can be seen in many ways.

What is it that enthralls you about these crafts? Have you ever considered the possibility that there may be health advantages to you because you knit or crochet?

Reasons Why People Love Knitting and Crocheting

An older person is shown knitting a garter stitch swatch

It can be pretty pleasing to recognize that you have created something yourself. You wouldn't be wrong if that statement reminds you of something a four-year-old would say. But it can equally be said of grownups, too.

When I was very young, I engaged in various hobbies, sometimes out of necessity but usually because I enjoyed working with my hands. One thing that gave me pleasure was receiving compliments for something I made. I still love hearing things like, "Did you make that?" What do other people say?

I Need a Hobby

An older woman is knitting while her husband is sleeping

I need a portable hobby to keep my hands busy – one that doesn't require much investment or space.  You don't need an art studio or even a tiny room.

A little knitting project is perfect for picking up, even if you have little time.  You can take it anywhere. You can work out of a bag or purchase/make a container to hold all your supplies.  It doesn't get much easier than that.

Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

Practicing mindfulness by crocheting a hat

Engaging in mindfulness and meditation is a great way to reduce stress and increase psychological well-being. It can help to quiet the mind and create a sense of peace.

By taking a few moments each day to focus on being mindful, one can become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Medication can also help cultivate an inner sense of calm and clarity. The resulting relaxation response is good for your body.

This craft is genuinely a way to manage stress and beat depression.  A calming effect comes from the repetitive motions during these activities, almost as if done without thinking.  But knitting is not done without thinking.  

I often liken it to a mantra.  K1, K1, P1, P1, K1, K1.  

As you count the stitches, the rest of your brain relaxes. It is tough to have stressful thoughts when concentrating on knits and purls—this type of stress reduction results in a sense of personal well-being.

Stimulate the Imagination and Creativity 

If you don't think you are creative, you've never picked up a hook or pair of needles.  Achieving new creative thought and problem-solving levels can be daunting for people of all ages.  

But being creative is part of being human.  We all have it in us, but some folks express it better than others. 

Even if all you are doing is following a pattern, there are still plenty of ways to feel creative when you knit or crochet. Consider the colors and textures of yarn you choose to use.  

Ponder how you might change the pattern to meet your needs best. 

Your creativity is in every stitch you make.

Hand-made with Love From the Heart

Use knitting or crocheting to create a gift for a loved one

I'm not too fond of those ugly Christmas sweaters. Most people aren't crazy about them either, so what better way to tell someone you love them than to make a gift from your heart and your hands?

People, however, treasure homemade gifts they receive, even Christmas sweaters.  And the giving doesn't need to end with your family and friends.  Many charitable organizations encourage groups to knit or crochet for homeless people, hospitalized patients, or children in need.

Knitting Need Not be a Solitary Pursuit

A young woman is knitting outdoors in a grassy field

Knitting helps me find friends. Even if you are the most introverted person in the world, there will always be someone who will come over to chat if you happen to be knitting in public. This naturally improves social skills and a sense of community.

Knitting in a location where others can observe may be a bit intimidating. It was a bit unnerving for me at first. I thought people would judge me. I began to feel more at ease when I realized that most people don't even know the difference between knitting and crocheting; they are just curious about what you are doing.

You can also join a knitting club or even an online group dedicated to crocheting or knitting if that suits you.

A Way to Fight Ennui

Due to the 2020 pandemic (COVID-19), many people have been required to stay home, which has resulted in more free time.

Free time is good, but it becomes oppressive when it turns into boredom. 2020 may be the year of the fiber, meaning more people will take up knitting and crocheting.

A Way to Develop Confidence

Knowing I can master a new skill at any age is a big confidence booster. When you boost self-esteem, you feel more accomplished and have a better opinion of yourself. Neither crocheting nor knitting is challenging to learn.

There are only a few basic stitches to master, whether you knit or crochet. Once you've developed the foundation, the rest becomes easy. You don't need native talents, and it's not rocket science. Even young children benefit from learning how to do a needlework craft.

Even though you might think that learning to do a new craft will require years and a steep learning curve, knitting, and crocheting don't fall into that category. If you learn each skill, you will create beautiful objects in no time, one step at a time.

An Affordable Pasttime

Engaging in a hobby does not have to be a costly undertaking. Both crocheting and knitting are relatively cheap hobbies, and engaging in either requires little in terms of supplies and tools. No massive cash outlay is needed, so you don't need to worry about breaking the bank.

A needle or two, a ball of yarn, and some online instructions or purchasing an expensive instruction book is all that is genuinely needed. You don't need a lot of money to obtain those essential supplies.

Granted, you can buy plenty of supplies and tools as you progress. Still, as hobbies go, the initial expenditure to get started is very affordable. The materials are relatively available for most people.

A Hiatus From the All-Encompassing Screen

A woman is knitting while checking her laptopIt is not always easy to put away our devices entirely, as many rely on them for patterns and instructional videos.

It is not always easy to put away our devices entirely, as many rely on them for patterns and instructional videos.

Whether you spend your time surfing the net, binge-watching, or merely texting, there comes a time when screens become overwhelming and anything but fulfilling. 

Knitting has become a new distraction from the ever-present screen.  According to the New York Times, many knitters love the process, "value the soothing repetitive motions and the feel of the yarn running through their fingers, relish the colors, the act of creation."1

The knitting process could very well be more important than the finished product. There is a well-known division among needle arts enthusiasts about whether they prefer the process or the product.  If you read this, you will see yourself in one of those camps, but perhaps you liken yourself to both.

Could Knitting Improve our Mental Health?

We all long to reduce our anxiety and calm our stressful lives in these stressful times. 

Yoga, meditation, and even green tea may help, but did you know that knitting could help reduce stress?  Are there health benefits of knitting and crocheting?

It's true. 

Some of the benefits that have been documented include:

Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting

Knitting has been shown to have several potential health benefits, including:

Stress Relief

  • Stress relief: Knitting can be a relaxing activity that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. This happens because there is a repetitive nature of knitting, almost like meditation. Rather than chanting a mantra, you might end up chanting the knits and purls as you create a row or round of knitting. There may also be even more benefits for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Improved Dexterity and Hand-eye Coordination

  • Improved dexterity and hand-eye coordination: Knitting requires fine motor skills, which can help improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination. This is not only true for young people, but as we age, some dexterity deteriorates, so this is a good activity for the elderly.

Increased Cognitive Function

  • Increased cognitive function: Knitting can be mentally stimulating, helping to improve cognitive function and potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Older people with age-related memory loss can benefit from meditative-like qualities that repetitive crochet and the repetitive actions of knitting require. More complicated designs require math skills. Still, even with simple patterns, a level of cognitive ability comes into play by either memorizing stitch patterns or keeping track of them as you knit.

Social Benefits

  • Knitting can be a social activity, allowing people to come together and connect with others. Individual yarn stores have knitting groups that may or may not be free but offer an opportunity to connect with others. Even if you do not have a local store, online guilds, social media groups, and other larger organizations such as Ravery provide these social benefits.

Increased Self-Esteem and Self-efficacy

  • Increased self-esteem and self-efficacy: Knitting can be a creative outlet and a way to achieve a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, leading to increased self-esteem and self-efficacy. Creating something from nothing to give as a gift or use for yourself is self-empowering.  Learning new stitches and techniques or advancing your skills empowers most people.

Improved Mental Health

Improved mental health: Knitting is also known as a promising therapy for people who suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health issues.

Research suggests that the rhythmical, repetitive knitting motions could enhance serotonin's release. This hormone regulates mood, learning, and sleep.

According to Kathryn Vercillo, psychologist, artist, and crochet enthusiast, we can heal ourselves, and one way to begin is through needle arts.  As a fellow psychologist and avid knitter, her words resonated with me.  

We all need help to improve our mental health in the 21st century and keep our hands busy.  Choosing something that doesn't require harming our bodies and can have positive benefits is a must.

When I read this, I was skeptical that there could be health benefits of knitting and crocheting.  How could this hobby that required hand movement and coordination help improve me and manage the pain from my rheumatoid arthritic hands, high blood pressure, failing eye sight and those myraid problems that plague older people? 

I had given up on many activities requiring fine motor skills years ago. However, I always seemed to wonder why I was still able to knit and crochet.  I just credited my ability to sustain my passion for these needlecrafts to advance ergonomic needles, better yarns, and lights with extra magnification.  

But I remember my grandmother, who knitted well into her 80s nearly 50 years ago (1970s), created beautiful pieces with little effort.  I should have known that the advances of today's technology may not be the only factor involved.

Research suggests that the rhythmical, repetitive motions of knitting could enhance the release of serotonin. This hormone regulates mood, learning, and sleep. 

It turns out that serotonin is a naturally occurring analgesic, and low serotonin levels have been linked to depression and anxiety disorders, as well as decreased pain thresholds.  Could it be that the process of knitting increases the serotonin uptake in the brain?

Organizations That Promote the Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting

Stitch Links is a nonprofit organization that aims to unite therapeutic knitters, support research on the craft's health effects, and serve as a resource for clinicians and other professionals interested in implementing therapeutic knitting.

It would seem that through their research, people have reported that knitting positively impacts their well-being. Furthermore, the ability to knit gave people an added boost to their self-esteem because they could use their hobby to provide gifts to people or charities.

It seems our brains cannot concentrate on two different things simultaneously. So, if you are knitting, your brain can't interpret your pain signals.

What About Crochet?

Much of this article has been dedicated to the health benefits of knitting, but does crochet offer the same benefits?

Research on the health benefits of crocheting is limited, but some studies have suggested that it may have similar benefits to knitting.

Like knitting, crocheting can reduce stress and anxiety, improve cognitive function and dexterity, and provide a sense of accomplishment and social connection.

It can also be a form of meditation or mindfulness practice.

Additionally, crocheting may have therapeutic benefits for those recovering from addiction or mental health conditions.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of crocheting.2


 1 Atherley, K (2020) 'Pick up Knitting Needles for a Mood Lifter,' The New York Times, 20 December, p. D4

2The Benefits Of Crocheting (2021)

Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting:  Pin for Future Reference

Yarn, sample crochet, stethoscope

Last thoughts about the health benefits of knitting and crocheting

Needlecrafts mean something different for everyone.  Some of the reasons people give for loving to knit or crochet above may have resonated with you. 

Maybe you have your own thoughts and reasons.  We'd love to hear your stories.  Why do you love to knit? crochet?  Health-wise, do you find you benefiting from your hobby? 

We'd love to hear your thoughts about the emotional and physical benefits of picking up needles or a hook.

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About Janice

Hi, I’m Janice, the voice behind Smart-Knit-Crocheting. I love to knit and crochet and even more, I love teaching others what I know.

Though I learned to knit and crochet as a child, I didn’t get serious about these amazing hobbies until I retired. I’m a certified knit and crochet instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and am working on becoming a Master Hand Knitter through The Knitting Guild Association.

I’m currently living with my husband of over 50 years and our 7 Shih Tzu dogs.

I love hearing from you, so please drop me a line and let me know what you’re working on, whether you love knitting or crocheting more, and if you have any questions. Please visit my about me page for more information.

Happy Crocheting