Knitting, Your New Companion
Having begun knitting eleven years ago, especially in the past five years, I can attest how fulfilling and rewarding it is. Knitting has become my best inanimate companion. It has been my aid in passing appointment waiting times, my comfort in times of unexpected hardship or emergency, my focus enhancer in lectures. It even helped me realize that I CAN meditate. If you’ve knit in the past but the needles have been set aside, I challenge you to pick them up! If knitting is new to you, grab your friend who knits (I KNOW you have at least one), some needles and yarn and enjoy the journey now! Here’s why:
1. It’s the new Meditation, without all the struggles!
Many of us believe that we simply are no good at meditating. In our hyper-paced, information-saturated world, we can’t seem to still the mind long enough for quiet focus. I remember the day I unexpectedly concluded that knitting WAS my meditation. Sitting down, I focused on the project at hand, and cleared my mind of noise, simply due to the need to pay attention to the project on my lap. Recalling all the past feeble and frustrating attempts at “clearing my mind”, I realized it was happening without my trying so hard. (Hello?! I’m a woman! I’m not sure if my mind will be clear after I die!) Knitting and other creative work like it grants the creator the space to narrow the focus and thus quiet the mind! Dr. Herbert Benson, a mind/body medicine expert and author of “The Relaxation Response,” says that the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. I can personally attest to this!! And you produce something beautiful and useful as a result!
2. Knitting is quite possibly the most natural anti-depressant from which one can benefit.
Carrie Barron, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and co-author of the book, “The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness with Your Own Two Hands,” states that, “When we have a life-affirming project going on that grabs the self and gets it to work in a positive way, that is an anti-depressant.” I believe our intuitive nature as humans realizes this, albeit subconsciously. The next time you are at lunch downtown, on the subway or ferry during commute time or in a park, take a look around you. Now that you will be focusing on it my bet is that you will notice more people than ever before, knitting or perhaps crocheting. Once my husband spent time around me as my knitting habit developed, he began noticing men and women knitting everywhere!
3. Keep your brain in the game!
In a 2007 review, Sharon Gutman and Victoria Schindler surveyed scientific literature that analyzes the neurological basis for how hobbies relate to health and well-being. They found that engaging in such activities reduce the effects of stress-related diseases and slows cognitive decline. Studies have shown activities like knitting and quilting, card-playing and book reading among those advanced in years granted 30-50% reduction in the likelihood of mild cognitive impairment as compared to those who did not participate in similar activities (Geda et al, Mayo Clinic).
4. It generates community with others.
Over the years, I have debated whether I am actually an introvert or extrovert. Perhaps I have shifted back and forth over time. I have leaned introvert lately, which has made it clearly evident that knitting (and spinning which I’m occasionally spotted doing in public) generates chat that may otherwise never occur. I’m grateful for this! It refreshes me when someone asks what I am making or relates of theirs or a loved ones needlework. In my humble opinion, we need all the positive community surrounding us possible! Whether it’s knitting or another activity, how can you generate light and pleasant connections around you?
5. Creating empowers us!
In simplest terms, I take “balls of string” and shape them into scarves, sweaters, shawls, hats, baskets, blankets, gloves, you name it! Sometimes I even create the “balls of string” from fur! Think of your “super powers”! What do you do that fulfills you, creates, enlivens, quiets your mind and lifts your spirits? If these characteristics sound appealing to you and you need a creative outlet, pick up those needles!
Are you a knitter who has set aside the hobby and need a refresher? Comment below, check out Youtube, and START! Before you know it, you will always have a project (or three, like me) in progress! Are you an avid creator, be it with fiber, wood, clay, etc? Show off what you do by commenting and sharing!