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Knitting as Therapy

Linda Lycett, Editor-in-Chief


T
hose of us who have been knitting for many years do not think about it as being a therapy, we just carry on regardless. But for newcomers, particularly those with pain or other health problems, knitting can be a lifesaver – literally. The advantages far outweigh any minor disadvantages, like cost of supplies.

When it comes to health, one always, or nearly always, does what is best for yourself. Knitting is proving to be one of the ‘must do’ practical self-help therapies. Besides which, once started, it becomes very addictive with some, if they can, moving on to dyeing their own yarn or spinning their own wool.



Sick children from Bellevue Hospital New York knitting and weaving. ca. 1920-1925

Not to get sidetracked – research is currently being undertaken as to how knitting has therapeutic advantages.

Betsan Corkhill, a senior physiotherapist became interested in the effects of knitting on pain, memory, depression and post traumatic stress when she was editor for a knitting magazine. She decided to look into it further and is now working in conjunction with five universities in the United Kingdom researching the effect knitting has on brain patterns, dementia, pain management and depression to name just a few health issues it may assist to minimise.




Knitting also has other advantages in helping people come together, it transmutes languages barriers, helps quieten children and can reduce stress in the workplace

More research needs to be undertaken to map the changes of brain patterns as to how the therapy re-generates and grows healthy brain cells. Some of the benefits are listed below. If even one of these apply to you, then the whole business is worthwhile:

* Helps alleviate pain
* Assists in gaining control over you life
* Improves hand movement
* Helps break addictions
* Stimulates brain patterns by using visualisation
* Creates a sense of belonging (in a group)
* Gives back the lost identity and self-confidence
* Creates positive thinking
* Improves memory through remembering stitches, patterns, etc
* It can teach goal setting and planning, anticipation and excitement that can all be lost through continual pain and illness
* Compliment medical treatments by occupying the mind and keeping it busy
* Reduce stress in the workplace
* Quiets over-active or violent children

There are many more positive aspects that can be added but these create a starting point.



While knitters do not normally think ‘therapy’, looking at myself over the years I can see where it has helped me at difficult times and one instance in particular comes to mind when I was staying with friends and I felt ‘compelled’ to knit so I borrowed a pair of needles and some wool and started knitting. I did not think too much about it at the time, but looking back it did remove the stress and relax my whole being.




Betsan is currently looking for funding for research studies to:
* Explore the Effects of Knitting on Memory Scan, Memory Recall and on Local versus Global Attention.

* Knitting and the Knitting Group as a Complex Intervention for the Management of Chronic Pain – a feasibility study for a definitive trial.

* A Brain Imaging Study of Knitters - Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics Reading.

For more information visit the Stitchlinks website.

In the meantime, try it for yourself – knitting is an ancient, timeless craft and is achievable by all age groups, girls and boys, women and men.

But be warned – Knitting is Very addictive, so it might pay to ensure there is a well-prepared empty cupboard for all the yarn that will become your ‘stash’!


Knitting in Public day





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Additional resources

Stitchlinks
Read about research into Knitting for therapy, and how it can help you.

iKnit
Take part in the iKnit forum, make friends and gain support for you and others.




  






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