19 February 2012

Knitting as Therapy...

Have you ever been knitting and felt so relaxed or consumed by your project that you have lost all sense of time? It is these qualities in the craft that scientific research has deemed knitting to be a new form of therapy. 

The Science bit:

Research suggests that 90% of physical health problems may be related to stress and that pain doesn't originate in your muscles, joints or ligaments, but in your brain! Studies have suggested that people suffering from pain often report that when they are distracted or occupied the level of pain they feel is reduced.

The very act of knitting is rhythmic and repetitive and it is this that can induce the knitter into a meditative state of mind. It's this 'mindlessness' that enables a knitter to 'zone out' and forget about problems and stresses in their everyday life. 

It is thought that knitting has a calming effect on people to the point that it can positively help those suffering from disruptive behavioural conditions such as ADHD. It is also though it may help people to manage anxiety, panic attacks or any illnesses that may be stress related. Knitting is believed to slow down thought processes giving the brain a chance to process thoughts more effectively. (Especially helpful for those suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

As all knitters would probably agree knitting is addictive. (I can think of many worse addictions to have). It occupies the hands as well as the mind so helps to stop or replace cravings such as smoking, alcoholism and binge eating to name but a few.

Colour and Texture:

All knitters and crocheters know the simple pleasure you can get by just going into a wool shop and stroking and squeezing all different types of yarn. (I have always wondered whether I was slightly strange when I could spend hours just handling yarns. I have since learnt that the pleasure gained from this should not be underestimated).

'Simply looking at your stash and stroking it can make you feel happy'

This quote taken from knitonthenet.com and has confirmed that I am not slightly unhinged. Research suggests that people who suffer from depression often see the world in black and white. The simple act of visiting a wool shop and looking at the colours can improve your mood and put a smile on your face. Who would have thought that something as simple as colourful yarn could be considered a form of therapy?

General Welbeing:

Knitting is a craft that can be started for pence; all you need is a pair needles and one ball of wool. The best part is that its a completely portable craft which makes knitting unique.

Many people think knitting is a solitary hobby....how wrong can they be.
Knitting has a massive community, one of which is ravelry (www.ravelry.com). Before I found ravelry I was slightly embarassed to tell people that I knit. Working in a largely male dominated job I knew I would never hear the end of it. 

Another international knitting community is 'Stitch and Bitch' where groups meet on a weekly basis in their local pub with their current projects. Visit www.stitchnbitch.org to find your local group.
Over the last few years the popularity for knitting has grown massively. Groups have been set up around the country in hospitals, doctors surgeries and nursing homes as a form of pain management. (www.iknitlinks.com)


Knitting enables people to experience relaxation and may even help reduce levels of stress and anxiety whilst giving individuals a sense of community and welbeing. Holistic therapy promotes the idea that a person's attitude to an illness can be just as important or more so that simply taking medication. If something as simple and exciting as knitting can improve medical conditions, what are  you waiting for. Get yourself to a wool store or charity shop, you'll never look back!