Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting By Janice Jones
In this day and age when there are so many options 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, recently, these needlecrafts have seen a resurgence in popularity for a variety of reasons.
The source of my enthusiasm for needle arts is something I'd like to talk about in greater detail at a later time.
Pictured here is yarn alongside knitting needles and crochet hooks. These components are integral to the craft of knitting and crocheting, each of which provide many health benefits.
The positive effects on your wellbeing 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 possibilities that there may be health advantages to you because you knit or crochet?
It can be quite pleasing to recognize that you have created something entirely by yourself. If that statement reminds you of something a four-year-old would say, you wouldn't be wrong. But it can equally be said of grownups too.
When I was very young, I engaged in all sorts of hobbies, sometimes out of necessity, but usually because I enjoyed working with my hands. One thing that gave me pleasure was receiving complements for something I made. I still love hearing things like, "Did you make that?" What do other people say?
I need a hobby to keep my hands busy – one that is also portable and doesn't require a great deal of investment or space. You don't need an art studio or even a small room.
It's true; a little knitting project is perfect for picking up even if you don't have much time. You can take it anywhere. You can work out of a bag or purchase/make a container to hold all of your supplies. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Engaging in mindfullness and medication 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. Additionally, medication can help to cultivate an inner sense of calm and clarity.
This craft is genuinely a way to manage stress and beat depression. There is a kind of calming effect that comes from the repetitive motions done 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.
If you don't think you are creative, you've never picked up a hook or pair of needles. Achieving new levels of creative thought and problem solving can be a daunting task for many people. But, being creative is part of being human. We all have it in us, but some folks manage to 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.
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 that comes from your heart and your hands.
People, however treasure gifts they receive that are homemade, 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 helps me find friends. Even if you are the most introverted person in the world, there will always be someone that will come over to chat if you happen to be knitting in public.
Knitting in a location where others can observe may be a bit intiminating. 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 join a group online that is dedicated to crocheting or knitting if that is more comfortable for you.
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 a good thing, but when it turns into boredom, it becomes oppressive. The year 2020 may be the year of the Fiber—meaning more people take up knitting and crocheting.
Just knowing that I can master a new skill at any age is a big confidence booster. Neither crocheting nor knitting is terribly challenging to learn.
There are only a few basic stitches to master whether you decide to knit or crochet. Once you've developed the foundation, the rest becomes easy. You don't need any 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 how 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 be creating beautiful objects in no time, one step at a time.
Engaging in a hobby does not have to be a costly undertaing. Both crocheting and knitting are relatively cheap hobbies, and engaging in either requires little in terms of supplies and tools. There is not a massive outlay of cash needed to get started so you don't need to worry about breaking the bank.
A needle or two, a ball of yarn, and some online instructions or the purchase of an expensive instruction book is all that is genuinely needed.
Granted, there are plenty of supplies and tools you can buy as you progress. Still, as hobbies go, the initial expenditure to get started is very affordable. The materials are relatively available for most people.
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 process of knitting could very well be more important than the finished product. In fact, there is a well-known division among needle arts enthusiasts about whether they prefer the process or the product. I am sure that if you are reading this, you will see yourself in one of those camps, but perhaps you liken yourself to both.
In these stressful times, we all long to reduce our anxiety and calm our stressful lives.
Yoga, meditation, even green tea may help, but did you know that knitting could help you reduce your stress levels? Are there really health benefits of knitting and crocheting?
Some of the benefits that have been documented include:
Knitting has been shown to have several potential health benefits, including:
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?
Stitch Links is a nonprofit organization that aims to unite therapeutic knitters, support research on the craft's health effects, and serves 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 has a positive impact on their wellbeing. 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 would seem that our brains are unable to concentrate on two different things simultaneously. So if you are knitting, your brain can't interpret your pain signals.
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) https://www.muezart.com/blogs/muezart-musings/the-benefits-of-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.