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The Truth About Knitting and Crochet….They’re Good for You!

How these crafts can improve your mood, mind and body

In January 2014, the Council released its Changing Global Health One Stitch at a Time video featuring interviews with a wide range of people from older adults to grammar school kids about their experiences with knitting and crochet.

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The video was produced by Lasch Media for CYC.

Since the mid 1990s the Craft Yarn Council (CYC) has surveyed hundreds of thousands of knitters and crocheters about why they enjoy these crafts. Consistently over time, stress relief ranks at the top, along with creative fulfillment. In addition, a growing number of studies have been completed and articles written about the benefits of knitting and crochet to one’s mood, mind and even the body by treating symptoms of some diseases. Read the article written by Leslie Petrovski that summarizes highlights of these studies and articles, along with personal interviews.

Has knitting or crochet positively affected your health?

Craft Yarn Council invites you to add your personal story to our health archive below…

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Lauren Kingsland For 16 years I have taught crochet and quilting projects to patients and staff at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown Hospital. People often ask me how I handle the suffering and stress I witness every day. Doing the project along with the patients to show them how to do it is MY therapy that enables me to continue to be a compassionate presence with them.
jv malcolm helped me and my other widow friends recuperate from our depression
Nancy Bruce In addition to all the lovely relaxation and creative benefits, knitting helps me focus! I discovered late in life that I've got a touch of ADHD... very easily distracted when doing ANYTHING... except knitting. I strongly believe that knitting teaches me what true focus feels like so that I can aspire to create that feeling of focus while doing other tasks.
Barbara Rickman Was taught how to knit in the 3rd or 4th grade by a teacher. May father was in the US Airforce and we had just returned, as a family, from an assignment in Spain. I was alone in the classroom and played by myself in one corner, putting together triangular colored blocks and talking to no one. Mrs. Pana (pronounced Panya) called me over to her desk one day and took out of a drawer some knitting needles and yarn. She asked me if I wanted to learn something new and I said yes. She taught me how to cast on, knit and cast off. It was all she had time for. She let me keep those first knitting needles and I have them to this day.

You can add socialization or elimination of isolation to the list I guess. Because of her actions, I am now, at 56 years old, calling others out of internal or external isolation by teaching them to knit at a Michaels Crafts store in Milford CT.
Kathy Reed Although I have knit for years, I still feel like there is something new to learn every time I pick up the needles and yarn. I love that knitting is so forgiving. It doesn't sass you back. It waits quietly in the basket untill you can get there. It keeps you warm. All of these things make knitting a wonderful antidote to the frantic pace of life.
Stephanie T Butler I'm a single Mom and the year my son was going to college every told me that I wouldn't be able to handle it. I thought I would be ok but I took up knitting just in case. Sure enough when he left I was a mess. I couldn't stop crying. I finally picked up my knitting and 15 minutes late I realized I wasn't crying anymore. I've been diagonosed wiht borderline depression and knitting has helped me tremendously. Now I knit when I am nervous or stressed. It just helps relieve a lot of stressful emotions. I alos enjoy going to knitting groups. I am not sure I would have been able to cope with my son leaving for college if it wasn't for knitting. Now I have taken a crochet class as well. I enjoy doing both crafts.
Lindsay Lewchuk A gift received became a passion embraced.

During a long hospitalization, I sought an enjoyable distraction from the daily drudgery of medical tests. Having learned some basic knitting skills as a young girl from my talented Baba and very creative great grandmother, I decided to again try my hand at this craft. Knitting quickly became a passion as a single sweater accelerated into creating my own designs for both myself and others to enjoy.

The diagnosis of neurotoxicity, organ damage, and chemical sensitivity mandates an isolated lifestyle free from the impact of modern day chemicals. Knit Eco Chic was conceived with this in mind. As I began to formulate new designs, three key philosophies were foremost in my thinking:

  1. Use eco yarns
  2. Knits that fit curves
  3. Unique and intricate patterns

Knitting and designing continues to benefit me in my recovery as one of my doctors told me that the mechanics of knitting works one damaged area of my brain and the creativity behind the designing works another. I am eternally grateful for the blessing that my "treatment" comes in such an enjoyable form, that is, through two needles of the wooden kind.

Greg Cohoon Learning how to knit helped me bond with my prematurely-born daughter who had a 5-week NICU stay. Learning how to knit preemie hats gave me a sense of purpose during a time that I felt very helpless. It's a hobby that I've stuck with, and it continues to help me cope with stress at work, provide a sense of order in hectic days, and allows my brain time to solve problems while I knit. I love knitting!
You can read more details about how/why I started knitting on my blog: http://www.knittingdaddy.com/2013/10/08/my-knitting-origin-story/
Rachel LaFleur Hi there,

I've been knitting now for about 10 years and the health benefits have only really showed I guess in the last few. I started knitting just after I graduated high school and got into working graveyard shifts. There would be a lonely hour or two to pass where I was essentially just keeping an eye on things and I stretched and grew and learned to love the craft.

A few years ago, after I got married I learned that I have been suffering from a chronic illness most of my adult life. I've had many times where I have brought my knitting with me as my only companion to the doctors offices. The nurses are always impressed with my blood pressure after I've done a few rows in the waiting room. But more than that, I have my knitting to help me through the mentally tough times with my illness. It's not judging me for not being able to make it into work. It doesn't mind that I don't have the power to finish it right now. It waits for me and gives me a sense of occomplishment when I can finish a shawl or a sock. The colors brighten my mood or the specific yarn reminds me of a good day I had when my illness didn't get in the way of me making it out the door. I can't always make it to a knitting group, but I know when I'm feeling social I can talk to others online about my knitting and feel a part of a community that doesn't have to know I'm I'll. Knitting has given me something to aspire to, to look forward to, and motivates me to try and get better.

Some people may not understand that "crafts" sounds like a dirty mussed up word to me - like it has connotations of being simple or time wasters. Even my family will occasionally say I do crafts with a slight distain in there tone. But they don't realize how much having a skill in arts or crafts can mean to a person. It sometimes is one of the only things that helps me get up to another day- to hold on and fight. I know that sounds sappy, but knitting is a life saver for me.

Nancy Brown I like knitting for charities. When I have a knitting project on my needles, which is almost every day, I feel needed, and valued.
I'm an older woman, late 50's, grown children, and am dealing with the empty nest syndrome by knitting clothing for babies, teens, and adults. There is ALWAYS a need for knitted garments or blankets. That means, there's always a need for me.
Knitting has helped me find a comfortable place in which to extend my talents to those whom I know are in need. Knitting also helps me feel creative, and keeps me thinking.
Iris Lamb Oh yes it has affected my health in a very positive way. My story: five years ago I discovered I had breast cancer and at the same time (within a week) I realized I had very serious martial problems as well as severe financial problems. In a nutshell, things could not have been worse emotionally and physically. As my lawyer told me a while after, it was the perfect storm. Eventually, I divorced my husband, had two businesses close and had a lumpectomy. How did knitting help? When I wasn't crying, I was knitting or talking with friends. I realized afterward it was part of my therapy and continues to be. Thank goodness I survived it all. Most of this is behind me. I work, don't have the same life style, but that's okay. Best of all, after 5 years, my health is good and life moves on. Physically, I was very lucky. I only had radiation, not chemo. It takes time to recover from all this, but I have realized that what won't kill you will make you stronger. Therefore, I am now a superwoman who enjoys knitting and has made it part of my life.
Melinda Matos been sewing, crocheting, knitting since the age of 12 but adulthood and brought many obstacles, been working since age 15, banking for over 40 years, have survived my husband's stroke, my teenager's rebellion and during all that time, if it wasn't for knitting, sewing, crocheting, it would not have made me feel like I've accomplished something in my life, since working has been overstressful with supervisors expecting you to do 2 plus more jobs for same pay. My mom taught me these crafts at a young age b/c you didn't need a lot of money, and now that I can afford more yarn, more thread, more fabric, it makes my self worth even more invigorating, if I didn't have crafts, I would have nothing at all
Laura Kimmel Taking up a hobby that I enjoy and making beautiful items to keep, wear or give away is very positive in my life. I feel so productive after a day of pushing papers and answering the phone. So thrilled that we have such nice yarns to use.
Marylouise Tande My mom taught me how to knit when I was about 6 yrs. old. Later, she taught me to crochet. I would knit/crochet for a while, then drop it for a while. Then, in 2001, my life was thrown for a loop. My dad had a massive heart attack while cutting the front lawn, and lingered for 2 weeks. About one week later, my father-in-law fell and hit his head while trying to get up. He died as a result of the fall. Then, one and a half weeks later, my cousin who had been ill, died. I was helping my mom arrange the funeral for my dad, helping her with her own out of control diabetes, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, legal issues, travelling to Los Angeles to attend the funeral for my father-in-law, coming back home to attend the funeral for my cousin. The stress during that time caused a physical breakdown. I couldn't do anything.

I decided to try to do something to relax. That's when I thought of knitting. I brought out my needles and some yarn and knitted something simple. Just an uncomplicated, no fancy stitch scarf. Then, I decided to keep going. After a while, as I started to feel stronger again, I took a class on how to do Magic Loop. I haven't stopped knitting since. I had a scare with lymphoma in 2006. I had to go through 17 radiation treatments, and knit my way through that making socks, hats, etc. I decided then that since I didn't have to go through chemo, I would do something for others who had to go through chemo. I began to knit chemo hats, and still do that today. I knit several, then send them to the cancer center here locally. They get the hats and put them out at the infusion center for those who want one.

Knitting has helped with the stress in my life, have taught many friends, and currently teach at Michaels. I thank my mom, who has now passed for teaching me this wonderful craft that has helped me in so many ways.
wendy stumpf knitting and crochet kept me off anti depressants after we lost our home and pets in a house fire 12 years ago. nothing I made was usable but I didn't need to be on drugs. to this day it keeps my blood pressure down as well. it will also help me to sleep on nights when insomnia hits especially if a rosary fails to help.
Debra Burchard All I can say is that it's about time that research caught up with the world of those whose natures can't conform to the dictates of the "modern world." I found that when I was in college in the 70s and had to take a class that didn't interest me, knitting kept my attention in the room and allowed me to stay present. I've been suggesting knitting to clients and teaching my students of energy kinesiology for brain integration for fifteen years. Our hands can "make" for pleasure. Indeed they need to!
Mary Dixon When I was facing six weeks of radiation treatment after two surgeries, I was ready to change my focus to do something that was therapeutic for me and could benefit the community. At that time I found out about a group of people that gathered every week to knit mostly for cancer patients. Let's say it was charity knitting or even crocheting. Usually, the charity bit was done with yarn that was donated at no cost to the group. When I realized I could get my hands on yarn at no cost, I was excited to do something. Plus I had a few things already made that I donated to the group to hand out to cancer patients.

A couple weeks after I got involved, there was a table set out with all types of things including caps/hats, scarves, shawls and other things that might give the patients some comfort. Seeing some of the things I had made on other patients, I was more than just touched. I almost cried. I knew then that I was in much better shape than many others since I didn't need chemo.

When I kept meeting with these ladies, it turned into my therapy and I could almost forget about my problems with radiation or anything else that came up. We didn't just knit but had a nice time to chat and learn and inspire anyone else that was knitting. It was my social circle.

Once after spending enough time with this group, I'm now addicted to knitting. If anything or anyone prevents me from knitting, there is a big problem. My interest in knitting socks has come back thanks to others I met. I don't knit too many sweaters but I will now. I don't often knit any big projects like afghans but I am now.

My health is definitely better now along with the state of my mind while I can relax and see others blessed with things we have made. One of my strengths is knowing that my mind is having good control over the body.
Crystal Preston Yes my mom taught me to crochet just 5 years old. I quit doing it at 15 due to so much school work. My stress levels went through the roof. When I was pregnant with my first child I still hadn't picked it back up yet. My doctors told me if you don,t do something to help your stress levels you will go into labor early. My mom said do you still have your crochet hook set. I told her yes. The next day she brought me a wal-mart bag filled with red heart and lion brand yarns. I started to crochet. two weeks later when I went back to the doctor he called it a miracle. He said I went from my baby being over stressed to not having signs of stress at all. He asked me if I had changed my diet. I told him no I started to crochet a granny square blanket. He said well keep it up because it works. Its been 15 years and I am now starting a project to help pregnant women learn how to crochet. I also donate afghans and other crocheted items to Cincinnati Childrens Hospital and THe Epilepsy Foundation.
Lisa I'm so glad to hear what I've used to keep myself calm and relieving stress is one of the best things I could do for myself as well as benefit others with my work. My grandmother taught me to crochet at the age of 9 or 10 and a lefty to boot, she was right-handed and stuck with me until I learned. When she fell and gradually went into a coma at 90, I made sure she had a piece of my work in her hand. You could see her hands flexing and feeling the work as if she had a crochet hook in her hand and was making it herself. It gave me a sense of well-being knowing that she was benefiting from it even in her comatose state. Thank you, Lisa
wendy stumpf Knitting and Crocheting have both positively affected my health. They have proven to be excellent stress relievers. 12 years ago my family had a house fire. Due to allergies, even though the house didn't burn to the ground, we lost almost everything. At the time, we were also just learning to deal with my mother having dementia. I had been knitting slippers before the fire to be donated to the toasty toes project. This initiative was to make the ships a little more comfortable when the sailors took off their boots without adding a huge amount of stuff to their storage issues. We had a lot of servicemen and women in our family so this was a near and dear project to my heart. The slippers, made with yarn and needles gotten from a thrift store, were simple things made from garter stitch and ribbing. The ones made that summer though were unusable by anyone. Even though I was using the same needles and yarn weight I had before the fire, my stress levels were such that my stitching was as stiff as cardboard. However, I kept at it and tore out that which I had done and redid it after a bit of time. As the summer and autumn of that year passed my stitching relaxed back to normal. I managed to get through that year with no prescriptions from my doctor due to having my knitting or crocheting with me at all times. This might not be the way everyone should or could handle stress, but it worked for me.
Amanda Knitting and Crocheting is very fun and helps me cope with stress. NOT only that, knitting and crocheting is what I take pride in because it is what I do best :-) :-) :-) :-)
Nancy Jo Born Knitting and crocheting make me happy! That counts, right?
jennifer harley Crochet helps me to de-stress and calms my OCD symptoms
Wanda French Yes it has helped when I was attacked by a dog my finger was ripped open. After it started healing I stated back crocheting and noticed my finger improving faster than just using an exercise ball. Also the doctor was glad I was doing it said it was good therapy for my finger.
Deborah Dungy Knitting was my lifeline when I was struggling through a period of severe anxiety. It actually helped me stay connected to people when I would have otherwise shunned almost all contact with others.
ZANARIAH BINTI A. BAKAR I find crocheting and knitting create something truly beautiful and useful, thus help manage my stress
and depression
tho i m just a new beginner
Judith Mcfarland I learned to knit when I was nine but stopped about the age of 30 when I was going through a divorce, taking care of kids, working FT and just didn't have time. Then when I was about 55 and dealing with an auto-immune disorder that was causing a lot of hand pain my daughter said, Mom, why don't you start to knit again. It is supposed to be therapeutic for your hands. I started at 15 mins/day, now I can knit for an hour or more at a time without pain, my hands are less stiff and painful and it has opened up a whole new world. I taught my daughter to knit, she taught me to crochet, I joined a local group that had 4 people and have caused it to grow to 10 by inviting people from Ravelry which my daughter introduced me to. I knit every day, have several projects going at a time, make prayer shawls and premie hats as well as gifts and things for myself. I even asked my boss if I could knit at our faculty meetings as it helps me concentrate and he gave permission for me to do that.
Tracy Davis When I knit or crochet, all of the stress and frustration goes away. It calms me down, and has to taught me to be more patient. It is something about the yarn and the finished product that give me peace.
Tracy Davis Knitting and crochet has helped my blood pressure. When I am knitting, I feel calm and peaceful. It is something about the yarn and the finished product that makes me feel good.
Laurel Chandler Let me put in a good word for crochet! It is a wonderful stress reducing activity for me and a perfect contrast to my high-tech writing job. I love the feel of the yarn and the motion of my fingers as I work the yarn into a new creation. I feel calm and excited at the same time, and have been very satisfied as my skills get better and I can work on my challenging projects. I have also enjoyed knitting and crocheting for charity, including knitting bears for the Mother Bear project and making crochet lapghans for a local hospice.
Tina Knitting calms me down and lowers my blood pressure.
Creative U Studios The rhythmic motion of knitting has been proven to change the brain chemistry so as to decrease bad stress hormones and increase the release of such good mood hormones as serotonin and dopamine.
http://panambicollection.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/knitting-health-benefits/ ...knitting is the perfect antidote to life in the hurried and harried world. It offers a very tangible way to connect with the past and to create something truly useful as well as beautiful. In a world whose technological advances-food processors, bread machines, online books-have deprived us of many of life’s tactile pleasures, the feeling of wool or cotton yarn and the steady repetition of stitch after stitch is a restorative tonic, producing not a virtual something that can be altered with a single click, but a real and tangible something….
Caley rhythmic repetitive acts help prevent and manage stress, pain and depression, which in turn strengthens the body’s immune system