The other day there was a story on Yahoo News about a man named Gregory Patrick whose knitting literally saved his life. He was homeless and by using his knitting skills, he made cute little teddy bears which he sold on Etsy. The proceeds of these sales have helped him afford a place to live and food to eat. For the whole story click here. But I was thinking there was more to this than just what the story said.
According to this article in Psychology Today, the repetition in knitting releases serotonin which is the “feel-good” chemical in your brain. It combats the “Blues” and feelings of boredom. It also calms us and centers us in the “now.” The human brain can only handle one thing at a time. If you are trying to read a knitting pattern, remember how to perform the stitches, notice and enjoy the texture of the fiber as it goes between your fingers, that occupies your brain not leaving room for the bad stuff.
Think about the social aspect of knitting. When you travel or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, it is likely that someone will ask you what you are making. This simple opening for conversation helps us interact with others, something that so many of us have difficulty with in this age of electronic gadgets. There are also knit nights or knitting groups which provide companionship and human to human interaction. As you can see in the above picture, we have people of all ages at our Knit Night. (The handsome guy on the right is my 13 year old son). The chance to interact across generational and social divides helps everyone relate to each other and builds community.
The act of creating something has been used for generations as a way to help people deal with anxiety or trauma. Art therapy anyone? Studies have found that the ability to create something, practicing a skill, and the social opportunities of knitting groups lead to the benefits of improved mood and decreased stress. Northern Arizona University is studying how working with fiber; knitting, quilting, or weaving, actually helps people take “vacation from their problems.” In this age of stress and high blood pressure, knitting allows people to relax and de-stress in a positive, socially acceptable way.
So I’ll return to Mr. Patrick and his story. Not only was he able to use his craft to fix his financial issues, but in the process, he was also healing the emotional scars that being homeless had caused.
So if creating something with fiber is good for your health, what are you waiting for? Start a project. You know….it will be cold soon. Finish a UFO. Stop by a local yarn shop or nearby fabric store for inspiration and support. Take a trip to discover a new shop or try a new fiber craft. Not only will you improve your mood, but you will improve your health, be ready for that cold spell, and have a gift ready to be given.