Mindfulness

6 Ways Knitting Can Help You Be More Mindful

6 Ways Knitting Can Help You Be More Mindful

By Wei Jing, guest writer

With COVID-19 keeping us home this year, you may have reconnected with loved ones or started new hobbies. 

If you’re looking for a self-care hobby to add to your yoga routine now that the weather has taken a turn for the colder, we have the perfect thing for you! Knitting.

You may have heard that knitting is productive. Perhaps your friends and family have been gifted with more scarves than they can feasibly wear in a lifetime. But did you know that knitting can also lower stress levels and blood pressure similarly to yoga and meditation? 

In fact, knitting, like yoga, is a mindful act perfect for all ages and skill levels! 

Read on for 6 ways knitting can help you be more mindful.

1. Knitting is simple and repetitive

Repetitive movements enhance the release of serotonin, the hormone that’s responsible for regulating emotions and feelings of well-being. We naturally engage in fidgety movements to self-soothe when we’re feeling anxious, and now you know why! Knitting is, in essence, a productive fidget: we use both hands to hold our needles while wrapping yarn around one needle and pulling in loops of yarn. When first learning how to knit, you’ll focus and engage with these movements at a high level, drawing your mind away from anxious thoughts. This  naturally lowers your heart rate. Even the folks at FitBit agree – entering a meditative-like state is a side-effect of knitting!

2. You can challenge yourself with mindful knitting!

If you feel like your mind has started wandering because the basic garter stitch is now a piece of cake, there are more complex patterns to discover and bring you back to focusing on your knitting! Once you know how to knit and purl (the two foundation stitches), the world is your oyster – find a “thing” you want to perfect and jump right in. Cables may look complicated, but only involve switching the order that you work the stitches. Lace, on the other hand, can be intimidating before you know what you’re doing, but also only involves variations of the same knits and purls you already know. Many knitters keep multiple projects going at once to have options depending on how much brain-power they have at any given time. TV knitting calls for something mindless, but sometimes you want to be engrossed in a completely new technique with no distractions. There are so many opportunities to pick a pattern that allows you to level-up your knitting know-how!

3. Why not earn a new skill?

Speaking of levelling-up, knitting is an easy and tangible way to feel a sense of accomplishment. You go at your own pace, so whether you’re motivated by wanting an end product (I was a knitter who was fixated on wanting to make a sweater – it was my 4th ever project) or wanting to make everyone you know matching hats, there’s always something for you! Having knitting as a go-to activity has been shown to combat boredom and depression, and you’ll see the actual results of your labor flowing through your hands. I once knitted a textured gansey scarf out of a beautiful silk blend yarn during a tumultuous period and found that it was a small form of therapy. When I finally bound it off, I decided to gift it to a friend as a symbol of letting go of the negative energy – she was none the wiser and loved it, and I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders!

4. Combine it with other mindfulness and yoga strategies

Many chest-opening, upper-body, and wrist-focused yoga stretches are great for knitters (and those of us who now find ourselves hunched over keyboards in less than optimum home workspaces). My favorite ones to introduce to folks are eagle arms, mountain pose, and a variation of hands in namaste position (push wrists downwards for a stretch!). To fully integrate knitting in your mindfulness practice, we also recommend starting with five minutes of pranayama breathing to ease your mind away from the rest of your busy day, then integrating breathwork with the stitches you are making to further heighten your self-awareness. Just like the deep breathing techniques used in yoga, this will also help calm your nervous system. One of the best parts of knitting is that it’s portable! Plus, you can knit for however much time you have, whether it’s 10 minutes waiting in the dentist’s office or a two-hour swim meet – be sure to take along a simple project so you don’t forget to watch!

5. This is a form of self-care

There’s no such thing as the knitting police – knitting can be whatever you want it to be. Whether you want to do nothing but knit the same pattern over and over or keep upping the ante in learning new techniques, it doesn’t matter! A common mindfulness practice is setting intentions, so try delighting in what you create; or, if you’re learning something new, try practicing patience with yourself. I always ask adult newbies, “When was the last time you learned a completely new skill?” and the answer around the room is often “I don’t remember!” As someone who can sometimes be a type-A perfectionist, knitting taught me that most mistakes (we’ll call them “design features”) can be fixed, and sometimes small ones don’t need to be! You’ll be surprised at what you might learn about yourself through knitting. 

6. Knitting is great for the whole family

If you find that alone time to knit is a rarity for you, try introducing your whole family to it! Needles and yarn don’t have to be expensive and are endlessly reusable if they don’t become a finished object. I end up “adopting” my husband’s abandoned projects, and many friends unravel their kids’ projects to have something new for the next time. We’ve already mentioned the great mindfulness benefits, but you can also introduce your kids to knitting for the additional biomechanical ones.

Think about the way an activity like yoga benefits your body with intentional movements that improve balance, strength and flexibility. With knitting, repetitive movements cross the midline of the body, which is incredibly important to developing minds. It’s truly a unique activity that has been described as a bilateral (uses both sides of your brain), rhythmic (repetitive), and psychosocial intervention (participating in the activity with other people). 

Also, many knitters enjoy knitting in groups for the social connection – the natural relaxation leads to easy conversations and fun interactions. Who better to share that with than your loved ones? 

Add knitting to your mindfulness routine today!

We truly believe that knitting can hook just about anyone. It’s tactile and tangible. And, for those who already love any other craft or feel the calling to make something, you can create bespoke clothing. You can even get onboard with fiber festivals with sheep, alpaca, goats, and angora bunnies. Finally, there are so many squishy, soft and colorful yarns to buy! You’ll be surprised at how addictive knitting can be!

So, if you’re looking for mindfulness activities to share with kids, friends, family, and colleagues, we think that – along with yoga with Pretzel Kids – knitting should be on your list! 

About Wei Jing: Wei Jing Saw is the founder of The Wellknit Co. a company that presents virtual and onsite knitting workshops for workplace wellness. She was inspired to use knitting as a wellness tool after experiencing its meditative benefits firsthand during a difficult time, and is excited to share the joys of knitting with people who are looking for a new creative or self-care outlet. 

At The Wellknit Co., Wei Jing runs recurring and one-off team building workshops that integrate pranayama breathing and light stretching to maximize the meditative qualities of knitting, which has been shown to lower stress and blood pressure as much as meditation and yoga. Wellknit strives to empower its attendees to utilize this tactile and portable solution to fight stress in their daily lives. 

The Wellknit Co. has wonderful beginner’s knitting kits, private or group virtual lessons, and a plethora of video tutorials on YouTube!

Similar Posts