Knit one, purl two, pick up a stitch that's all you do. Knitting is really that simple! Once you've mastered those two stitches you are on your way.
Historically knitting used to be a necessity, fisherman repairing their nets, wives and mothers making clothing for their family. But these days knitting is a hobby, a craft, a pastime ... with immense mind, body, brain benefits!!
A number of years ago, about 3,500 people from around the world participated in a psychological study on knitting. More than 80% of participants reported that knitting made them feel more calm, happier, and less stressed compared to before they took up the hobby. It was two fold, they ended up calm & happy, and with a bunch of cute hats, scarfs, and socks. But it was the actual process of doing the knit and purl stitching and being creative that lead to the warm and fuzzy feelings. Research shows that things like knitting, and some other crafting, playing a musical instrument, or working on crossword puzzles can make people feel calmer, happier, and less stressed.
In stressful situations the "stress response" kicks in and the body sends hormones out into the body to help you fight, flee, freeze, or faint, which is actually not a bad thing. It becomes unhealthy when there are is an ongoing situation or you ruminate over a stressful situation and the hormones keep getting pump into the body lingering long after the situation has passed leaving you feeling anxious and restless. Our health depends on being able to return to baseline after a stressful situation and to manage ongoing stress better. When you are doing something that is rhythmic and repetitive like knitting it can induce a relaxation response. The Relaxation Response is essentially the opposite reaction to the “fight or flight” response. The benefits of the relaxation response are:
heart rate slows down
blood pressure goes down
increased mental clarity
feelings of confidence and calm rather than anxiety and fear
better sleep, more restful sleep, easier falling asleep
increased productivity during the day
stress hormones return to normal levels
improved immune system (stress hormones interfere with immune system function while relaxation improves immunity)
Science is finding that when participants are in the "relaxation response" it changes their gene expression, the thing that dictates our optimal health or illness. Anything that can break the train of every thought can evoke the relaxation response, things such as yoga and meditation. Knitting has the added benefits of using parts of your brain that involve planning, processing sensory and visual information, storing information, and coordinating precision and timing of movement. Accessing all these areas of the brain stimulates the connections between the nerve cells and keeps those connections quick and efficient. The more we use these connections, the stronger they get and the healthier our brain stays- and may even help prevent illnesses like dementia.
And again if that does not convince you ... cute hats, scarfs 🧣 and socks 🧦!
Don't know how to knit and want to learn? Here are a few great resources:
Vogue Knitting (in print)
Learn more about Therapeutic Knitting: