In the first part of this article I discussed the meditative aspects of knitting as it pertained to mental health. In this section of the article I’ll look at how knitting as a meditative tool can be beneficial to your physical health. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of knitting keeps the mind in the here and now. Which moves the focus of the mind away from thoughts that make us feel stressed, depressed or anxious. By alleviating stress, depression or anxiety knitting helps lower heart rate, blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol.
One obvious physical benefit of knitting is it maintains and improves hand dexterity. My mom suffers from arthritis but continues to knit. She might not be able to knit for as long as a duration as she once did, but the movement helps prevents her hands from losing their dexterity. There is a warning though as too much knitting can cause repetitive disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome. To prevent problems keep knit times to a reasonable length and stop at the first signs of discomfort.
Studies have shown there is a correlation between preventing dementia and knitting. People who knit earlier in life and continue to knit have a reduced chance of in developing dementia. How this works is that since knitting is a cognitive activity it releases an natural anti-depressant called dopamine. We know there is a link between depression and dementia, so by lowing depression dopamine helps delay diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The hand-eye coordination and math skills required to knit are key to reducing dementia as well. These skills help strengthen and build neural networks, protecting neural connections. By protecting and improving neural connections the deterioration of the brain is slowed. Knitting also utilizes attention span and memory which are specifically affected by dementia. When knitting these areas are used like a muscle strengthening the brain and reducing their deterioration.
This is the end of part three of Knitting is Good for Your Soul. Part one can be found here and part two can be found here. I will post part four next Friday. There will be four parts.
Credits will be included at the end of last the article.
Knitting can socially connect even the most reclusive introvert. You don’t have to leave your house to find like-minded knitters. There are knitting communities online like Raverly that allow knitters to share and support one another across the world. You can find plenty of Facebook groups, blogs, forums (Knitting Help), youtube videos, online knitting magazines like Knitty and knitting shops like Knit Picks. Online it’s all about knitters reaching out to knitters.
I made several online friends when I started my blog 11 years ago and I’m still in touch with some of them today. These days I keep up with my online knitter friends on Facebook, but I originally met them through forums, their comments on my blog or my comments on their blog. We talked about knitting, raising children and our lives.
Knitting is portable making it easy to take along anywhere (unless maybe you are making an afghan). You can go to a coffee shop to share, teach and learn with other knitters. Most knitters I know are a passionate and friendly bunch who love to talk about knitting, yarn and so much more. There are plenty of face to face interactions out there for knitters. Places like causal knitting groups, local yarn shop meet ups, yarn shows, craft shows and knitters’ guilds are all great ways to meet other knitters. These meet ups are often called a stitch and bitch. I however am not a fan of this name. I supposed it can be a time to knit and vent with friends, but I think it’s a bit negative. I would rather view a knitting meet up as a time to connect and catch up with friends old and new.
Okay knitting can encourage social interaction, but why is this important? Social interaction gives us friends and friends support each other through stressful and difficult times. Friends are people we share fun times with and should make each other feel good about themselves. Having good people in your life improves the quality of your life, often improves your outlook on life and helps alleviate depression and stress. So go out there and connect online or out in your community!
This is the end of part two of Knitting is Good for Your Soul. Part one can be found here. I will post part three next Friday. There will be four parts.
Credits will be included at the end of last the article.
Oh happy winter – okay not really. It’s been so cold here in Canada that I’m counting the days until Spring. At least the days are getting longer. After making Allison here mittens I decided she needed a matching hat. No pattern was used, just me winging it. I wrote down what I did and plan to post it as a free pattern soon.
Here are the final photos:
I don’t need to convince you that knitting is amazing. You are here, you are a knitter so you already love knitting. This month I’m going to look at several great reasons to knit besides creating warm, woolly wonders.
Knitting is not only handicraft, it’s a meditative tool that comes with many benefits. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of knitting is what makes it a form of meditation. This nature helps keep the mind in the here and now. Why is that important? Keeping the mind focused on what’s going on right now takes focus off of things that can cause depression, stress, anxiety and even pain.
I know first hand how knitting can help deal with depression, stress and anxiety. In my early 30’s I had a rough few years as I struggled with a still birth, an infant loss, family deaths and postpartum depression. It was a bittersweet time. Amid the sadness was great joy at the birth of my two daughters. During this period of my life I was in therapy, on anti-depressants and I knit.. a lot. The therapy stopped. The anti-depressants stopped. The knitting continued. Knitting wasn’t new to me. I’ve been knitting since I was 8 years old, but for the first time in my life I needed to knit. Knitting became so important to me that I wanted to share my passion and in 2007 I started this blog. Today knitting continues helps me with my mental health.
We want to fill our lives with good habits and rid ourselves of bad ones. Did you know that knitting can replace an undesirable habit? Wouldn’t be great to stop smoking and replace it with lace shawls and soft baby blankets? Of course it’s probably not quite that easy but some studies have shown it can help. One study conducted said that subjects with eating disorders who began knitting, obsessed less about their disorder while knitting. Basically it helped keep them think about something other then eating. So knitting can be a great way to replace a bad habit with a good one, that is as long as you don’t get addicted. – more on that later.
This is the end of part one of Knitting is Good for Your Soul. I will post part two next Friday. There will be four parts.
Credits will be included in the last part of the article.
For years I never used double pointed needles or DPNs as most knitters call them. I didn’t even know they existed. I can’t remember when I started using them or what I first knit with them but, once I did I used them as much as possible. The truth is I hate to sew seams. If I can knit something on circulars or DPNs I will do it every time. I love sweaters like a traditional ski sweater where the only sewing is a little bit under the arm. Admittedly DPNs have there problems. The first few rounds are awkward to knit and joining the first round can be tricky. And the worst is if you join the round incorrectly and it twists. If it twists you are screwed and will have to rip it out and start over. As far as I know there is no other fix for a twisted round.
Today I’ve set up short tutorial on how I join DPNs that help prevent twisting and makes joining less awkward. A lot of patterns tell you to cast on all the stitches and distribute them evenly across your 3 or 4 needles. Then somehow you’re supposed to take that crazy chaos and join them all without twisting. It took me awhile but I figured out a better way.
Here’s how I do it. Here is a link to a pdf if you want to print this tutorial.
And that’s it. Good luck and I hope you enjoy using DPNs as much as I do!
On December 31 we had a record low of -28℃ (-18 ℉). The girls would be going back to school in a week and my oldest daughter had been wearing a threadbare pair of fingerless mittens I made for myself. These mittens are perfect for a bus commuter. The flaps keep you fingers warm but allow you access to your fingers for things like grabbing your bus pass. Are they warm? They used to be but the thumbs are so worn out they almost have holes in them. So I grabbed some yarn and DPNs and started making her new ones. I used the pattern World’s Simplest Mittens with my own modifications. The yarn is some left over Paton’s Classic Wool in worsted weight that I doubled for extra thick mitts.
The modifications were to divide the mitt into four fingers (I needed to add a couple of stitches so the fingers weren’t too small). Then I created the flap with rib on one half (to face the inside of the mitten) and stocking stitch on the other half. The flap length starts from the top of the thumb gusset until it was long enough to cover my daughter’s fingers. I used Kitchener stitch to sew the flap on.
It has taken me a long time as a knitter to make modifications to patterns instead of designing a whole new pattern. It saves a lot of headaches and time especially if the project is a simple thing like mittens or a hat. Don’t be afraid to jump in there a try modifying a pattern to create something new.
So for Christmas we decided to adopt a rescue dog. Adopting a dog was a surprise because my husband and I had felt a dog would be too much responsibility. But often in life things change and we changed our minds. We have room in our family for more love but aren’t having anymore children (ya I’m so done) and a dog seemed like a great choice. So Patches, an eight year old beagle mix stray from Kentucky joined our family on December 23 – just in time for Christmas.
Our cat, Boots is still not impressed and is very slowly trying to deal with this new change. He’s pretty pissed that we brought this new furry guy into the house and even left a ‘present’ for Patches on his dog bed one of the first days he was here. He has started to accept things however and I think in time he might even like the dog.
I was a knitting fiend during the Christmas season and I haven’t stopped as the list of things needed/wanted grows. My latest project is a baby blanket for a former co-worker and present client who is due this month. I’ve never had to knit a blanket so close to the wire. I hope to have it done for tomorrow since I’ll see her then.
I just love this pattern – Shadow Cable Baby Blanket and I knit it before. This new one is in Easter Egg Baby Blanket by Bernat.
Happy New Year and Merry Christmas my fellow knitters! I realize I’ve fallen off the grid for two freaking months! I was in a knitting crunch trying to get so many projects done that I didn’t have time to blog. On top of the usual business of the holiday season my family and I got a rescue dog on December 23. Patches is a much loved new addition, well much love by everyone except the cat. Taking him for walks has been challenging for all of us as the temperature here has been -24C (-11F) to -15C (5F) on average and that’s not factoring in the windchill.
I’m happy to say that I was very busy knitting Christmas gifts this year. And everyone who received that showed a true appreciation for them. So I proudly share with you my photos:
Witch Cats Hat from Ravelry – Gift for my aunt.
Cat mittens modified World’s Simplest Mittens and Witch Cat Hat patterns to create matching mittens.
Flash Beer/Coffee Cup Cozy – my own pattern using duplicate stitch to create the lighting bolt. Gift for my brother in law.
Houndstooth Fingerless Mitts – modified World’s Simplest Mittens with houndstooth pattern. Gift for my niece.
Purple and Silver Heart Ornaments. Part of homemade family gifts.
Final family gift packages – homemade hot chocolate mix, two knit heart ornaments and gift tag designed by me as Blue Bug Design.
Happy Halloween! We had a great halloween party this weekend and the whole family is looking forward to trick or treating tomorrow. My Louise Belcher costume turned out great and with a bit of help from my husband we got the ears to stand up without moving at all.
It’s really difficult to think about Halloween when we are having an unusual heat wave. It have been 31 C/88 F every day for the last 10 days and it sucks.
I’ve started gearing up for my favourite holiday by watching a horror movie a week and watching The Exorcist series on Netflix (it’s creepy as hell). I just love the fall because, it’s cool, rainy and an excuse to stay in and be super cozy while knitting. Plus there’s Halloween which embraces my love of horror stories. Most years I dress in a scary costume, but this year I’ve decide to go as Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. It’s fitting. I’m a Louise and I’m can be a smart mouth just like the cute nine year old in the cartoon. Of course I have to make her signature pink bunny ear hat. So I found a free pattern on WoollyRhinoCrafts. Now I hate to seam my knitting and this pattern has a lot of seaming. So of the seaming can’t be avoided but with the ears I felt I could make them in the round. Using the pattern WoollyRhino kindly provided I converted to something in the round and I’m pretty happy with it. My increases and decreases look a bit sloppy but it’s a costume so it’ll do.
And the progress on my hat: