In case you haven’t heard, knitting is the latest health craze! No longer reserved for Grannies, there’s solid science to back up the physical, psychological and social benefits of knitting. It can help alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, acting as a form of meditation.
Knitting helps to prevent and treat arthritis. In a group setting it can eliminate social isolation and treat social anxiety and addictions. Perhaps, most importantly of all, knitting can stave off mental decline and help in the prevention of dementia. Oh, it can also help kids improve their math skills!
Some of the fondest memories of my Grandma revolve around knitting. She could knit, talk, watch TV and laugh all at the same time. At Grandma’s house it was mandatory to don thick handmade woolen socks to prevent colds. We secretly chuckled every time we went to the bathroom where we were greeted by knitted toilet seat warmers and little knitted hats that covered the extra toilet paper roll. She knitted our Barbie clothes, weird sweaters for Christmas and crocheted lots and lots of doilies! Little did she know that knitting was keeping her healthy and in fact, my Grandma avoided dementia and mental decline as she aged.
How I got interested in knitting is a rather long story, but to make it short, I will attribute my new found fascination to a group of 80 and 90 year old Revera Retirement Community residents known as the Knotty Knitters. These amazing women knit over 50 picc line covers for the Ottawa Hospital every week. They have produced over 1,000 picc line covers so far and are still going strong! Picc line covers help protect intravenous lines for patients receiving chemotherapy, nutrition or antibiotics. Read the entire article The (not so) Knotty Knitters …. you won’t be disappointed by this heart warming story.
Photo The Ottawa Citizen
I was so inspired that I soon found myself wandering through Michaels and my now favourite Ottawa yarn shop, Wabi Sabi. I admit, I am obsessed and I don’t even know how to knit … yet! One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had encountered a group of Ottawa University Researchers who will be conducting studies on the benefits of Knitting for Osteoarthritis. I started to google the health benefits of knitting and I hit the jackpot!
First I discovered Stitchlinks, a group at the core of groundbreaking research. Their mission is to use knitting to improve well being generally, but also to complement medical treatments in the self-management of long-term health conditions. They are working closely with academics and clinicians, and as a direct result, therapeutic knitting and therapeutic knitting groups are being formally acknowledged for their benefits in mainstream healthcare. The founder of Stitchlinks is Betsan Corkhill, a wellness coach in Bath, England, and author of the book Knit for Health & Wellness. I just finished the book and am now even more excited about the impact that knitting could have in our community. Visit the Stichlinks website to read about knitting research and watch her short documentary Knitting Therapy.
The sheer amount of information on the benefits had me wondering why I had never come across this phenomena before? My project at the moment involves organizing knitters to volunteer their time and knitting skills to create “twiddlemuffs”. If you’ve never heard of these …. and unless you’re a knitter you probably haven’t … these creative little muffs help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.
People suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia often have restless hands and the muffs provide a calming and soothing effect that reduces anxiety. Twiddlemuffs also stimulate the brain and are having remarkable results for some patients. Knitting items such as twiddlemuffs also allows knitters to volunteer their time and knitting skills to help others. It’s a win/win! These muffs were knitted by The Westwood Revera Retirement community residents and my daughter and I are in the process of decorating them before they are donated to the Ottawa Hospital. Download a free twiddlemuff pattern.
One of my favourite discoveries are Knitted Knockers. Knitted Knockers are special handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast.
These soft comfortable lightweight prosthesis are knit with love by wonderful volunteers and are available for free. The KnittedKnockers.org movement was started by Barbera Demorest. Words cannot describe how I felt watching her testimonial so please go to knittedknockers.org and watch for yourself. The organization is growing and we now have the Knitted Knockers of Canada.
And if all this talk of knitting seems feminine in nature … you’re wrong! There are plenty of men who knit (including Russell Crowe) and at one point in history, knitting was reserved for men.
According to the Craft Yarn Council, Knitting is Changing Global Health – One Stitch at a Time, and I believe it! Imagine … knitting in schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, community centers, social events or just hanging out … the possibilities are endless. If you know how to knit, join the movement. If not, then start by asking friends or family members to teach you or sign up for knitting lessons at your local yarn store and knit your way to a healthy community!