Knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, oh my! All things fiber are at the top of my list of wellness tools, and I want to share it with you today. I’m going to share a bit about what knitting does for me and how it helps me maintain my wellness. Maybe it’ll entice you into giving it a shot!

Knitting is soothing

When I’m anxious, nervous, or just wanting to practice mindfulness, knitting a simple pattern is my go-to. It’s rhythmic, soothing, and there’s lots of sensations to focus on like the yarn running through my hand, the clicking of the needles, the shifts in color, the texture of the stitches, and the movement of the fabric. I mean, just look at how deliciously rhythmic that is.

Knitting GIF

Knitting gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment

Knitting something that I’ll actually use and wear, like socks, gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment that can sometimes be hard to find in work or school. It’s an activity that, once you learn how to do it, is low-effort, high-enjoyment, and high-reward. Everybody needs a couple of those things in their life to stay well, I think.

Pair of yellow hand-knit socks

Knitting is an alternative to unwanted behaviors

I have dermatillomania which also bleeds into hair-pulling and cheek-biting depending on how stressed out I am. These are habitual behaviors that I don’t like and want to interrupt when I notice myself doing them, and knitting helps with that. It satisfies the urge to do something repetitive with my body while being productive and enjoyable rather than destructive and unwanted. Knitting is also great for distracting from urges to binge eat, drink, or use. It doesn’t exactly take away the cravings, but it’s engaging enough to keep me occupied while I wait for the craving to pass.

Knitting brings with it a supportive online community

From knitting podcasts on YouTube to the #knittersofinstagram crowd to knit Tweets to Ravelry, knitting brings with it a huge online community of welcoming and supportive people. I often play knitting podcasts while I’m knitting at home, and it’s nice to have that little bit of company and learn about new patterns and yarns. If you’re looking to socialize in-person with other knitters, yarn shops usually have classes and clubs you can join. There’s even knitting clubs that bar-crawl if that’s your thing, just check on MeetUp. It’s always nice to have a hobby to share with other people, even if it’s only online. There’s nothing quite like posting a picture of your project and getting tons of supportive feedback.

Knitting podcast screen capture

#knittersofinstagram most recent posts

Knitting and other fiber arts are a learning opportunity

This is an aspect of the tool that kind of crept up on me. I was originally drawn to it just to find something crafty to do, but I find that I learn things every day! I’ve learned about wool and how it varies between different breeds of sheep, how dying works, how fiber is spun, how to do tons of different techniques, and even practiced head math. It’s something that keeps me active and learning, but it doesn’t feel like learning. I firmly believe that satisfying intellectual curiosity is a huge part of staying well, and knitting does that for me.

Knitting is portable wellness on to go

I suppose if you’re working on a blanket or large sweater, this wouldn’t really hold true. But I like knitting socks, and they’re pretty portable, even when I’m knitting four at once. I almost always carry my project bag with me anywhere I go, so I can use my wellness tool any time. Whether in a doctor’s office, waiting for class to start, in a staff meeting, or on the bus, I have my project with me.

hand knit socks in progress with project bag

How to get started with knitting

If you want to try knitting, here are a few ways to go about it:

  • Go to a craft store like Michaels and pick up some brightly colored worsted weight acrylic yarn like Red Heart. The bright color will help you when you’re first learning because you can see your stitches better, and acrylic yarn is pretty cheap. Get a pair of circular bamboo needles in the size it says on the tag of the yarn. I recommend bamboo for beginners because it grips the yarn better and you can more easily avoid dropping stitches. In a craft store, you’ll probably have the best luck trying to find Clover brand.

Red Heart Super Saver worsted acrylic yarn

  • Clover fixed circular bamboo needlesIf you want to splurge on nicer things right off the bat, I recommend using KnitPicks. It’s a great middle point between luxury and economy. I recommend getting some Brava worsted weight in a bright color or, if you don’t like the idea of using acrylic yarn, either Comfy Worsted (mostly cotton) or Swish Worsted (wool). Then grab a pair of Options Rainbow Wood fixed circulars in size 8 with a 24-32” cable. I recommend circulars for newbies just because they’re a bit easier to handle and you don’t have to worry as much about losing your work when you put it down. You can knit flat things on circulars too, not just circular things like hats.

KnitPicks landing page

  • Find a free beginner pattern like a scarf on Ravelry. Make an account and go to the pattern browser. You can choose to search for free patterns and type “scarf” or whatever else you’re interested in trying. You can also just google “free beginner scarf knitting pattern,” but you’ll find more appealing projects on Ravelry most of the time.

  • Sit down with a laptop or phone with you and start searching YouTube for tutorials. Here are a few things I recommend you look up.
    1. Look up “English knitting,” “Continental knitting,” and “Flicking knitting” tutorials and try them all out. These are all different ways to hold your yarn while you knit. Try them out and see which is more comfortable for you.
    2. Once you figure out your style, put that at the front of the rest of your searches. This will make sure you get a tutorial that explains how to do a stitch in your style.
    3. Look up tutorials for knit stitch, purl stitch, cast on, and bind off. That should be most of the things you need to know for your first project! If you come across another stitch in your pattern, don’t panic! Just look up the term on YouTube and you’re sure to find a tutorial for it.

Continental knitting tutorial on youtube

  • If self-teaching isn’t your thing, you can always go to a local yarn shop and see if they have classes. Lots of times, the fee you pay for the class will also buy you the supplies you need.

 

That’s all, folks! Check out my knitting Instagram here if you want to see what I’m working on. You can also find me on Ravelry as katevfitch.

Be well, have hope, and HAPPY KNITTING!

 

Kate Fitch

I've been with the Network since 2015, when I started as a volunteer. I've been on staff as the Communications Specialist since January 2017. I'm currently in college and pursuing a dual BA in Public Health and Public Administration. I'm most passionate about making sure that people with mental health conditions are fairly represented in the media, at policy tables, and in treatment system planning. In my spare time, I like to crochet, knit, and be the best cat mom ever.

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