Knitting and Well-being

My experience has taught me that knitting has the potential (though not the inevitability!) to have a highly positive effect on our well-being!

In fact, it can be thought of as an antidote to many issues of modern life: unrelentless speed, always doing more and working harder, a lack of time for ourselves, and a disconnect with the physical, tangible world (especially for those of us who work digitally!).

Knitting is by nature a slow process, and if constant optimization was our central goal in life, it would make absolutely no sense to spend fifty odd hours creating a single jumper!

We do not prioritise speed in knitting because we cannot, and this reminds us that, in life as well as in knitting, it is crucial to slow down and not always be our most efficient selves.

How many of us knitters have been told by friends/family/ colleagues/acquaintances that they don’t know how we find the time to knit? Those of us who do knit, of course, know all too well that we make the time, that we create it, and in doing so carve out pockets of time for ourselves that we otherwise might not. We knit in front of the TV, we knit while we’re waiting for appointments, and we knit simply because we would rather be knitting than doing many other things!

The therapeutic effects of knitting are a not-so-well-kept secret among those who make the time! As someone who has spent hours in front of the computer engaging in intangible tasks, there is something so fundamentally reassuring in the sensory experience of knitting and in the tactile relationship we have to our yarn and our needles and the touch of the fabric we are creating from scratch. The simple repetitive motion of forming non-stop stockinette can bring us a sense of calm and reassurance, while tackling new techniques, or finishing that final round of cabling or lace, brings a sense of achievement and self-confidence in our creative abilities. And who doesn’t enjoy that ego boost when you’re wearing a finished object and someone asks the question that makes all knitters’ ears prick up: “did you make that?”

Of course, the mental health benefits of knitting are not limited to its stereotype as a solo activity. We don’t knit in a vacuum. Gifting our knits to friends, family, or the many deserving charities out there is a heart-warming way of spreading the knitting word and warmth and showing we care. Knitting circles or social networks such as Instagram and Ravelry can easily come to form a part of our support network as connections are made and friendships formed. We gain a sense of belonging when we find a community that shares our interest (or perhaps obsession…), and our willingness to discuss patterns and projects for hours on end.

While there are enough knitting benefits to write a book, I do believe that these benefits are not inevitable, and it is not only the action of knitting, but the way in which we choose to knit consciously that is important.

I’d like to share a few of my own personal tips for keeping knitting calming, fun, engaging, and an all-round positive influence in our lives! Think of them less as ten commandments than as ten friendly suggestions from a knitter trying to keep her stress levels low.

  1. While social media is a wonderful way to knit together, make sure you don’t lose sight of your own pace and reasons for knitting. It doesn’t matter how you knit or how fast you knit or how many WIPs you have, as long as it’s working towards your well-being. Don’t let comparison be the thief of knitting joy!

  2. Don’t feel bad about taking the time for the hobby you love! If it’s bringing you a sense of satisfaction and well-being, then it’s inherently productive and time well spent!

  3. Try not to overwhelm yourself with knitting deadlines. The chances are you have enough deadlines in your work life, so let knitting be the break from that that you need!

  4. To all the serial gift knitters out there: you deserve to knit for yourself too should you want to! (As an incorrigibly selfish knitter, this has never been my particular issue…).

  5. Don’t feel guilty for saying no in a firm and polite way when people ask you to knit them something. Instead, you could explain how much time knitting takes (spoiler alert: a lot!), or even offer to teach them so they can make it for themselves.

  6. Don’t feel bad about asking for help! If you’ve read the pattern thoroughly and you’re still stumped, most designers are more than happy to support their customers. (And if you’re knitting an Along avec Anna pattern, I’m only an email away and here to help!).

  7. Knit within your financial means. There are many budget-friendly options out there for knitters, so don’t be swayed by the size and quality of other people’s knitting stashes! If knitting is becoming a financial burden it will detract from the calm and enjoyment it can bring you.

  8. Stay comfy! Knitting should be positive for your health, both mentally and physically. This means taking breaks when you need it, moving and stretching, and finding a comfortable and sustainable posture to knit in.

  9. Keep breathing, even if you drop a stitch!

  10. Don’t pressure yourself to knit if you’re not feeling it! Take a break or try a different kind of project or another craft. Knitting a quick accessory can be a great way to get out of a slump, but sometimes a slump is the space you need!

How have you gained a sense of well-being through your knitting? In what ways has it helped you? How do you keep your knitting stress free?

As always, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on Instagram! You can tag us at @along.avec.anna or use the hashtag #alongavecanna !

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