When you think of knitting, what comes to mind?
Maybe you picture an elderly woman sitting in a rocking chair, clinking away on her needles to create an intricately patterned shawl.
Maybe you feel a little frustrated because you've tried to learn knitting but gave up (psst, we can help with that!).
Maybe you think of comforting, soft hats or mittens made with love.
At Camellia Fiber Company, we think of knitting as so much more than a craft. Sure, it's a creative outlet, but it's also a tool to still our minds, relax our bodies, and calm our emotions. As it turns out, we're not the only ones who use knitting as a powerful self-care tool. In fact, several scientific studies from all over the world prove that knitting offers far more benefits than cozy homemade blankets, sweaters and scarves.
Meditative Knitting for Mental Health
It's no secret that mindfulness meditation is a useful tool for anxiety, depression, and many mental health conditions. But for many people, sitting still and quieting the mind can be difficult, especially when you live with chronic pain or anxiety. Fortunately, knitting has been shown to have similar effects as mindfulness meditation, and it offers an active alternative to traditional meditation practices. The repetitive action and steady rhythm of knitting can calm the body, and focusing on knitting can chase away anxious or invasive thoughts. Knitting during a stressful situation, circumstance, or life experience can also create a sense of control, which helps a person cope with distress more effectively.
Amazingly enough, knitting can both relax and sharpen the mind at the same time. A worldwide study showed that knitting can increase cognitive function, and even slow the onset of dementia.
Physical Health Benefits of Knitting
Since knitting engages both sides of the body and brain, it can help to calm a stressed mind AND a tense body. The relaxation that comes from knitting has been shown to reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure, which can, in turn, lead to better overall health both physically and mentally.
When it comes to chronic conditions and knitting, the positive connection is undeniable. For those who live with chronic pain, knitting provides a distraction from pain and a sense of purpose on difficult days. Frequent knitting can keep joints nimble as we age, preventing arthritis or tendonitis in the hands. For those already diagnosed with those conditions, knitting can offer relief from pain and stiffness. Plus, since knitting requires motor skills, it can also help those with Parkinson’s retain use and control of their hands and fingers long after their diagnosis.
Knitting for Community and Compassion
Besides the self-contained benefits to our bodies and minds, knitting can help us build community, too. Whether you join an in-person knitting group at a nearby yarn shop or an online network for knitters, jumping in and connecting with other knitters can ease feelings of isolation or loneliness. Keep in mind, too, that you can use knitting as a volunteer or charity opportunity. Crafting for a higher purpose is one of the best ways to feel connected to the world around you, and to know that you're making a positive impact on others.
One researcher determined that knitting was an effective remedy for a group of people who were struggling with compassion fatigue. If knitting can provide a way back to compassion and love for those in the study, we believe it can lead all of us to be more kind and understanding with one another. Here at Camellia Fiber Company, we want to create an inspiring, welcoming creative community where everyone can feel at home. If you're a beginning knitter, we invite you to learn to knit with us!
The benefits of knitting may start with just one person (you!), but together, the positive impact of knitting can reach far and wide. Let’s make the world a better place, one stitch at a time.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing guest posts from real people who have found joy, value, and many of the benefits we've talked about from knitting. Look for their stories on our blog soon!