July 18th, 2008
Professor Ruth Grahn, of Connecticut College, explains the functions of different parts of the brain by using the example of how the act of knitting requires the motor cortex of the brain where finger and hand control is determined. She also uses knitting to explain brain plasticity, which means that the brain is capable of changing as a person gains experience and improves their skills.
I once met a woman who had suffered a stroke and was told that she may never be able to knit again–that with a great deal of physical therapy, she would be lucky to walk. She had been a very experienced knitter who enjoyed doing intricate patterns. She described how she was determined to painstakingly return to her knitting, taking up simpler, then more complex patterns and eventually experienced a full recovery. Her amazed doctor told her that he believed she was able to use knitting to “rewire her brain” and take back not only her knitting, but all her motor skills.