Knitting’s health benefits are in the news
Here at Loveknitting we know that knitting is good for you! but the rest of the world is just beginning to catch on! (or should we say cast on?) Elizabeth Bagwell has been checking the knitting headlines this week!
Knitting is in the news on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, the Washington Post and SF Gate both published articles about the health benefits of knitting, while in the UK The Guardian focused on the social aspects of the craft.
The two American articles focus on news from various research groups. You can click through for the details, but the short version is that studies show that knitting may help:
- stave off cognitive diseases, like Alzheimers
- reduce the effects of stress and depression
- help improve motor function
- assist recovery from anorexia and other psychiatric illnesses
As a knitter, I find that knitting engages the brain in a way that no other activity does, and keeps my hands moving at the same time. Knitting can be very simple, leaving me able to chat, walk whilst knitting or watch a movie. It can be fiendishly complicated, capturing my attention and taking me longer to unravel than any sudoku or logic puzzle. It can be meditative, particularly when I’m knitting something complex but repetitive, and I’m just focussing on the stitches. It can be creative or a chance to switch off and follow a pattern. And sometimes it can be all of these things in a single project.
Stitchlinks, which I’ve mentioned before on this blog, is an organisation dedicated to finding out more about how knitting and craft affect us, and providing a safe meeting space for people who do use knitting and other crafts to assist with a physical or mental illness.
I’ve met many people who’ve use crafts as physiotherapy or to help them cope with physical or mental illness. Closest to home, my Nan took up knitting in her 90s, to help with the arthritis in her hands. She hadn’t knitted since my dad was born 60 years earlier, and said it helped a lot. I think that knitting hand warmers for the homeless and dishcloths for friends also made her feel useful.
Social history of knitting
In the UK, The Guardian asks: is knitting a relaxing hobby or a seditious activity? It’s a light piece, arguing that perhaps knitting should be given more respect than it currently gets. Similar articles come round quite a lot (I’ve probably written a couple, and I’ve certainly made that argument at a party or three!) This one is interesting, as the author is a self-confessed knitter (or at least yarn-collector) who can link ’60s fashion, celebrity knitters and Gandhi. Yet she also says:
“Knitting not as necessity, but art – for women who have just too much time on their hands.
Needlecraft, it seems, is just not relevant to the reality of modern women’s lives.”
It feels like she’s dismissing the craft. Who has too much time on their hands, really? We all get 24 hours per day, every day, and for most of us there are a thousand things we could be doing, from working towards world peace to cleaning the grouting in the bathroom. If we choose to knit, then knitting is relevant to the reality of our lives!
Last updated: May 14th, 2014.