Increases mental wellbeing, increases motor functionality, reduces stress… the list goes on, and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: Knitting. The benefits of knitting are many, and new research continually finds extra values. It’s these benefits, along with an enjoyment of the knitting process, and pride at the finished article, that makes knitting such an addictive hobby. Even writing about the rhythmic and repetitive nature of knitting gets me itching to pick up my needles!
All creative arts have been said to be ‘the purest way to present authentic self’¹, but knitting has some other features to its name. Knitting has been found to slow cognitive decline and the creative process as a whole can elevate the knitter to an almost meditative state. Indeed, Einstein was said to knit between his investigations to order his thoughts and calm his mind²! Knitting while watching television or waiting in the doctors surgery can make us feel productive, even during the most mundane and inactive, yet fundamental, moments of modern life.
We value these benefits when curled up on the sofa or whilst knitting on our morning commute, but what about when knitting in a group? Knitting in a group, whether that be a Knitting For All Kids Knit Class or a Knit Night & Day session, has all these benefits and many more besides.
The main direct benefit of knitting with a group, is the group itself. The camaraderie of knitting with a bunch of friendly folks, who share similar interests, couldn’t help but bring a smile to your face. If, at first, you are worried about joining a group of strangers there is no better place to start than with a knitting group. Could there be a friendlier group of like-minded people? The easy, relaxed conversation and laughter, that are commonplace in Knitting groups and classes, could be a result of the calming movements of knitting, that put people at ease, or the delightful people attending!
Knitting as part of a group has had historical importance since the first person picked up two sticks and thought “Hmm..there’s something to this!” In Rural communities, people would gather to talk and knit after a days work³. Those who work in a group have reported to feel ‘calmer’, ‘happier’, more ‘excited’ and ‘useful’ that those who did not, especially for people with depression².
Being part of a group is an important part of human nature. Social connections and increased communication help boost positive mood. Indeed, being part of a knitting group can give a sense of belonging, and gives you something else, besides your completed knitted items, of which to be proud.
Knitting is a great vehicle for social contact, especially for those of us who can feel a bit more shy. Firstly, it’s one of the few hobbies that allows you to be part of a group where it’s socially acceptable sit quietly and just to busy yourself with your work. You can make as little or as much eye contact as you feel like, and it comes with a pre-built conversation starter: knitting! Interacting with a knitting group can build social confidence, as well as improving your skill set.
It’s not just knitting skills that are improved in knitting groups and classes. Mathematical, organisational and visuospatial skills are key parts of knitting². You need to be able to count the number of stitches to an inch to check tension. Figuring out what a finished item will look like in 3D requires heightened visual and spacial skills. In many knitting circles, you find yourself learning other skills from the ongoing chit-chat, from cooking recipes to DIY tips.
Knitting in groups gives you the option of sharing patterns, and sometimes even yarns. When you get caught out on a tricky bit of knitting being in a class or group gives you someone to lean on, who can offer advice or motivation. Groups can decide to work together on a bigger project, such as some local yarn bombing or a collection of charity knits. Lastly, having some knitting buddies gives you a gaggle, with which to really enjoy yarn shows. It’s always much more fun with squish and squeeze yarns as a group!
So, whether you’re already a keen knitter, or you’re never picked up to needles in your life, make sure to look out for Knitting For All groups or classes in your area. Your knitting friends are waiting for you!
¹Blanche El., (2007) The expression of creativity through occupation. Journal of Occupational Science, 14(1), 21-29.
²Riley J, Corkhill B, Morris C (2013) The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood: Findings from an International Survey. British Journal of Occupational Therapy 76(2) 50-57.
³Black, S. (2012) Knitting, Fashion, Industry, Craft. London: V&A Publishing.
Bedding, S., & Sadlo, G., (2008) Retired people’s experience of participation in art classes. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(9), 371-78.
Corkhill, B., Hemmings, J.,Maddock, A., & Jill Riley (2014) Knitting and Well-being, Textile, 12:1, 34-57.
Healey, W. E., (2012) Mild Cognitive Impairment and Aging. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 28(3), 157-162.
Katz-Frieberg, T., (2010) ‘Craftsmen in the factory of images’, from BoysCraft. In: G Adamson, ed. The craft reader. New York: Berg, 596-605; Turney J (2009) The culture of knitting. Oxford: Berg.