Anybody who has picked up a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook knows, once you start, it’s hard to stop! Sure, there’s the learning curve at the beginning, when casting on feels more like tying knots, when your tension is wonky and your piece loops in and out of shape, and the finished product isn’t quite how you’d pictured it. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you find yourself reaching for a project in moments of leisure, while waiting for an appointment, out of boredom while traveling, at night on the couch when settling into to watch your favorite show.
But the benefits of a crafting hobby go beyond the obvious – yarn work has many positive impacts on your wellness, which might be a great reason to keep on crafting.
It’s fun to make things, for yourself and others, fun to admire the finished product. But there are other benefits to this kind of crafting that start weaving into your life, even in the awkward beginning as a new crafter or starting a new & more difficult project. These benefits accumulate over time, and boost your body, mind, and spirit, shining into your life with surprising impacts on your health and wellness.
The feel of the yarn as it passes through your fingers, appreciating the color and the look of the pattern as it develops, ‘coming to life’. There’s the gentle click of the needles, the weight of the project in your lap. All these details stimulate your senses and bring you into the present moment, which reduces stress, and lights up different areas of your brain. The meditative state offered by gentle concentration lowers the stress hormones in the body, which has a big impact on overall health. The process also encourages you to slow down – pace yourself, relax, and distracts from thoughts that might be pressing or upsetting. This relaxed & mindful state is called Flow; that feeling when you’re in the zone.
Many people learn best while performing another activity (remember doodling or fidgeting in school?), and knitting or crocheting can be just that. This is called cognitive anchoring; settling certain parts of the brain on the task at hand, so the rest of the brain can process new information. You’re likely already learning new things, whether it’s a pattern you haven’t tried before, or a new stitch or technique. Crafting gently keeps the mind active, and encourages you to try new things in the safe, low-stress environment of a project chosen for pleasure.
There are some very personal ‘pros’ to spending time crafting. In addition to the physical & mental benefits, it’s good for your self-esteem to try new things, and to pat yourself on the back when you get something done! This boost of pride increases self-confidence, encouraging your sense of perseverance, and your belief that you can achieve your goals. When you become more positive about yourself, it carries over into your community, improving relationships at home, at work, & with friends. Crafting also provides the opportunity to get together, and talk (or not!) & craft with people who share your interests. It also offers the chance to give – whether it’s a gift for your friend or a donation to a local charity. Giving connects us with our communities, large and small, and reminds us that we’re not alone.
In looking at just some of the benefits associated with crafting, the opportunities are endless! If you’re thinking of learning something new, whether it’s a language, or studying for a difficult test, try working with your hands to increase comprehension. If your workplace is demanding, throw your project in a bag and take a few minutes to knit on a break. If you’ve never crafted for charity, there are so many out there – try searching ‘charity’ for ideas we’ve blogged about before! Or, you could considering giving the gift of knitting or crocheting to a friend who might need it – whether it’s bringing them to a class, or planning to give a kit for an upcoming birthday or holiday.
Let us know if any of these benefits surprised you, & please share below in the comments the ways in which crafting has had a positive impact on your life.
5 Mental & Physical Benefits of Knitting from Shine365
The Knitting Equation from Stichlinks
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I crochet for all the reasons your article outlines. It relaxes me. It passes time productively, even if I am conversing, watching TV or waiting for something or someone. And ultimately, I have a tangible item to share.
In the last few months, Iâ€™ve made baby things for friends, while keeping my mother company in the hospital. And Iâ€™ve made doll clothes and blankets with extra time at lunch and while watching TV, so all the nieces will have a treat at at Christmas. I even had time to make extras for Toys for Tots.
Itâ€™s wonderful to do for others and do something I love doing at the same time.
Could you please send me a pattern for red heart in a square dish?
I was an avid knitter of sox, sweaters and anything until I had a scuba accident three years ago
I am re teaching myaself to knit again. It has been hard to read a pattern that looks like it’s written in a foreign language. It is slowly coming back.
I’d love to make that pattern. It does your heart good.
Knitting kept me sane as an elementary teacher, and keeps me engaged in retirement. My mother was a great knitter and taught me as a child. I passed this skill down to my daughter, and we all knit! I hope to teach my young granddaughter someday. There is only one draw back to knitting, my yarn addiction. I have it stashed in an old hutch and it is spilling out into another closet. It seems I clean it out every so often, and in a few years, I’m right back to where I was I do enjoy your scarfie yarn. I knitted the cable scarf last Christmas for many gifts, and they turned out beautiful. Enjoy your website
Thank you for the piece on the health benefits of knitting, bother mental and physical.
I have been thinking that myself, especially when my time spent knitting is not understood by my family.
As a retired mental health nurse, I have long recognized the benefits of knitting, the process, the feeling of calm in the process, the outcome and the happiness the project gives the recipient. I always have a project or 2 in progress.
Susan, thank you for sharing! You definitely have some insight. It’s so important to create a little alone time, happy you’re able to do this with knitting! Happy crafting in the New Year!
For some reason the counting in my head of the stitches and rows is so relaxing. I never thought it as a meditative state but that’s the perfect description of crocheting. I get in the zone and crochet for hours. My project bag is always with me wherever I go. If I have 10 extra minutes then I am crocheting. Thanks for the article, now I know that what I love doing is also healthy for me….not like my other obsession, chocolate.
Hi, Debra – you’re in ‘the zone’! And we support both obsessions, everything in moderation. Happy crafting in the New Year!
Pattern for cowl available?
You can find some of our cowl patterns here:
Happy crafting in the New Year!
Tracy Lynn Skates
I had a stroke and forgot how to do more than a single crochet, and couldnâ€™t follow patterns. For a crafty person that was rough. I got my loom out and since its repitition I am able to do this. To pass my time and excercise both mind and hands I have made 30 hats to donate. Each one completed gives me such satisfaction
Hi, Tracy Lynn – thank you for sharing! So happy to hear you’ve persevered and found a way to craft again. Those who receive your creations are very fortunate! Happy crafting in the New Year!
Female, retired, love charts with yarn. Making Afghan
for my 4 grandchildren. Need patterns for knitted Afghan
Here are some of our afghan patterns if you follow this link:
Kniitter need patterns
I would like to crochet tiny hearts & attach
them to corners of knitting items I’m finishing.
Do you have a pattern? Thanks! Greta
Hi, Greta! It’s a little image sourced from Pinterest, but here are a couple Lion Brand hearts:
Happy New Year!
I knitted because I did not have a sweater,did not have winter socks and only had and old quilt in an unheated room . Of all the stories in print and on line, for years and years, I have never seen “need” mentioned. I repair vintage items because of my vintage stash. I use my own designs and stitch combinations My family sometimes uses my items as gifts to others either in need or for celebration. Am I the only one left in this fiber population?
Hi, Sara – thank you for sharing! I’ll add this idea to my ‘topics’ list, it’s an important point about why we craft. I don’t think you’re alone in this! & Happy New Year to you & your family!
Could you share the pattern for the red heart/brown background above, please? THANKS!
Hi, there! Unfortunately, it’s just a little image sourced from Pinterest.
Here are a couple Lion Brand hearts:
Happy New Year!
We agree Ally Carey!
Beautifully written, Ally!
I like your style!