Crafting a Better Mind: The Mental Health Benefits of Knitting and Crocheting
Did you know?
Knitting and crochet have been around for a long time. Most women (and some men) have made something at some point in their lives entwining yarn with hooks or needles. As a child, I loved the little weaving set I got for my birthday. I would hook loop after loop, carefully threading over and under, then “binding-off” to create square after square of colorful patches that could be used for pot holders, or stitched together in more ambitious projects. As I got older, I learned to knit. Casting-on, knowing when to knit and when to purl, watching the pattern grow, then binding-off. I even loved the terminology. Crochet came next. Basic chain stitches, single and double crochet, making headbands, bracelets and scarves. Throughout my life, I’ve experimented with many yarn crafts like knitting, crochet, macramé, counted cross stitch, embroidery, and sewing. I enjoyed passing my time in quiet concentration. Excitedly realizing the designs, colors, and function of the finished piece. Feeling the soft texture of the yarn and textiles, and the solid textures of the needles and hoops, and then sharing my projects with friends and family. I knew crafting with my hands made me feel good, but I never thought my little hobbies would be such a boon to my mental health.
Did you know?
Repetitive and rhythmic motions trigger a release of serotonin. The same actions that make up knitting and crochet can be a key to relaxation.
Mental exercises like counting and remembering sequences can lower the risk of dementia and keep the brain alert and attentive.
Setting goals, completing a project, and giving the hand-made item to somebody else fuels a sense of accomplishment and builds self-esteem.
Exercising fine-motor skills and engaging tactile senses slows the decline of performance that comes with age, giving older adults the dexterity they need to maintain a meaningful quality of life.
Focusing on a quiet task for long periods of time is the same technique used by meditators to calm the monkey-mind, bringing about a sense of bliss and spiritual connection.
“It’s no accident that some of the finest lace in Europe was fashioned in convents; like the counting of the rosary, the motions of needlework are singularly well suited to the practice of contemplation.” Susan G. Lydon, The Knitting Sutra.
Keep stitching and hooking; embrace the absorbing, satisfying, and productive nature of yarn craft. Teach it to kids or anyone who is struggling. Enjoy its boundless capacity to boost your mental, physical, and spiritual health. We need more knitters and crochetiers to make the world a calmer place.