10 reasons why you should take up knitting.

Posted on November 06 2017

With celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Cara Delevingne, Christina Hendricks, Russel Crowe, Meryl Streep and Kate Middleton enjoying knitting as a pastime, the image of knitting being purely for ‘grannies’ is outdated. Those of us who enjoy knitting knew that anyway!

Learning to knit may not be high up in the 'to-do' list for many people but perhaps it should be. Knitting offers a wide variety of benefits beyond a completed project at the end of the process. For those of you that have not taken up your needles for ages, now may be a good time to reconsider: there are some fabulous new yarns around which are soft and luxurious and a multitude of patterns to be found online. So, here are my top ten reasons for learning to knit........

#1.   The methodical, rhythmic motion of knitting helps to lower heart rates, reduce blood pressure and produce a state of calm. The repetitive movements seem to keep us in the present rather than fearing the future or mulling over the past. For those suffering from anxiety attacks, it has been shown that if you pick up your needles before the onset of a panic attack, knitting can help. For some people 'knitting is seen as the new yoga'...!

This ‘de-stressing’ element of knitting has encouraged more men to take up their needles in recent years. Today, some 12% of members registering on Yorkshire-based yarn company, Rowan, are now male. Indeed, men are no strangers to knitting - in medieval times, knitting guilds were men-only and many recruits in the army and navy were taught the skill during the war.

#2.    Knitting can help reduce the odds of getting dementia. Cognitive impairment and memory loss can be reduced by between 30-50% simply by enjoying crafts such as knitting and crochet. It has been scientifically proven that using your hands productively triggers activity in 60% of your brain thereby keeping your brain active and in better health.

#3.   Knitting can boost confidence and reduce the sense of helplessness. Knitting is a craft that is relatively easy to learn and any mistakes are easily rectified. Any creative activity has a very positive impact on our well being and there are times in our lives, for example when waiting for endless hospital consultations, that knitting can offer a sense of purpose and calm in what would otherwise be a distressing experience.

#4.   Knitting can be seen as a 'constructive addiction' replacing other destructive habits such as smoking or binge eating. 'Knit to Quit' schemes try to help stop people from smoking. It is difficult to 'light up' when holding knitting needles in both hands! Similarly, knitting can help people who are looking to lose weight. Both smoking and snacking are often the result of boredom and once you are engrossed in your project, thoughts are diverted and both hands and brain occupied positively. Knitting also apparently uses up 55 calories an hour and, at the end of the time spent knitting, you have also produced a tangible result. In other words it is a 'win, win' situation.

#5.   Knitting can help fight against stiffness and arthritis through the continuous use of one's fingers and increased dexterity that knitting encourages.

#6.   Knitting offers sociable networking either online, with worldwide groups such as those offered on Ravelry, or the smaller 'Knit & Natter' or 'Stitch & Bitch' groups that have arisen over the past years. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other 'like-minded' people and improve skills through various workshops offered nationwide.

#7.   Knitting can provide some financial rewards. There are frequently opportunities to be a 'test' knitter for designers or even make some money through selling via 'Etsy' and other craft-based online stores. Whilst it may not make you a millionaire, knitting is an opportunity to earn extra income whilst doing something you enjoy.

#8.   Knitting is a creative outlet which enables you to make and even design a garment totally unique to yourself. It also provides the opportunity to knit for those less fortunate with many charities for the homeless or refugees actively seeking warm knitted blankets, hats and scarves which are so easy to make - even for those relatively new to the craft.

#9.   Knitting is important for the economy with craft skills contributing over £3.4 billion to the UK economy. It is estimated that there are around 7.5 million knitters and crocheters in the UK all helping keep our traditional craft alive supporting sheep farmers and maintaining the few remaining mills in Britain.

#10.  'Put down your phone and pick up your needles' today's highly technological work and home environment it is good to get back to basics, learn a craft and lose yourself in your own thoughts. Knitting helps improve concentration and following a pattern or creating your own designs also enhances maths skills. Like your phone, you can take it anywhere and enjoy TV, music, talking and enjoy multi-tasking whilst your knit.

I am certain that many of you will have additional benefits to add to the above list but if you are particularly interested in the health aspects of knitting then take a look at the website of Betsan Corkhill who wrote the book 'Knit for Health & Wellness: How to knit for a flexible mind and more....'

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