How Knitting Can Benefit Your Mental & Physical Health

I often refer to myself as an eternal learner as I am always looking to update myself. Be it courses related to my work or some skill I am passionate about or some craft, I am constantly looking to learn something new. In 2014, after I quit my corporate job, I reconnected with my ‘artsy’ side. Apart from teaching craft work to little kids in my apartment, I also learnt new art forms like belly dancing (I have 2 left feet and can’t dance to save my life, but I had fun), pencil sketching, decoupage, clay miniatures, and knitting to name a few.

Knitting is not a skill that is as popular or ‘cool’ in India as in some other countries. It has been looked upon as something that only ‘old aunties’ do.  Especially in South India, which is warmer than the northern parts of the country, it is not a very popular skill. For some unknown reason, I have had an interest in knitting since I was a teen. So when someone posted in one of our apartment groups offering to teach knitting, my friend and I decided to explore the opportunity.

Coat & Booties For A New Born

 As a teen, because of my interest, I bought myself one set of needles and tried the knit & purl and thought I had learnt the art of knitting. Then when I met Mrs. Gunni Singh in 2017, I realized I was clueless and there was SO MUCH MORE to knitting.

Gunni Aunty (as we came to fondly call her) gave freely of her time and knowledge and taught us a lot. She is an amazing knitter and has been knitting since she was a little kid. Living part-time in Australia also meant that she had a more cosmopolitan knowledge of knitting which benefitted us greatly. From learning how to choose the yarn (yes….everything we knit is not wool!), the correct needles and accessories to reading complicated charts for the project patterns, she taught us everything. Starting with a simple project to identify stitches, we moved on to creating washcloths, coasters, kids’ booties, and baby coats.

Today, I am proud to say that I am an independent knitter and love creating stuff for my friends and family. Unfortunately, getting good-quality yarn is difficult in India. While we do get acrylic yarn, after having knitted with natural fibers like merino, bamboo, or cotton I now can feel the difference when using acrylic. Similarly, while we have the regular knitting needles I also invested in a ChiaoGoo circular set from abroad, because the experience of using those needs brings a new joy to knitting. While I am a slow knitter and don’t knit constantly, I choose projects that I think will be of use to me or can be gifted to someone. Beanies and lace-stitch shawls are my favorites to knit. I have also tried my own version of some patterns and managed to create some headbands for my group of girls as a women’s day gift.

I am a big advocate of learning a new skill as it can help you in so many ways. Apart from the joy of seeing something you created, it also keeps the mind and body active. It can help you connect with other people who enjoy similar activities and open doors to communities where your learning can be much greater.

Beanies For Friends & Family

Here Are Some Benefits Of Learning To Knit

Helps You Relax

When I started my knitting classes, I honestly did not think I had it in me. There were times when I made so many mistakes and my work looked so bad. And each time I did this, I was asked to rip out the work and start again! Believe me, at that time I was very stressed. But once I understood the basics, it was a cakewalk. Many seasoned knitters just keep knitting while watching TV or reading or chatting with friends. They don’t even need to look at the pattern. The repeated act of weaving the yarn and making something beautiful can completely relax you.

Helps Hand-Eye Coordination

It is a well-known fact that knitting requires motor skills.  It is highly skilled work and requires coordination of your hands and eyes.  In fact, it is recommended as a form of therapy for some people with problems with their motor skills or if they are recovering from injuries.

Keeps You Stimulated And Thus Healthy

Many people suffering from anxiety disorders or depression or who lead very stressed lives have found knitting to soothe their nerves. The repeated act of weaving the yarn with the needles and the concentration required, keeps your mind off other things that may be stressing you out. If you are a loner, joining a knitting group can help start conversations and build relationships. In certain cases, knitting has also helped as a form of physiotherapy for people with arthritis.

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Lace Stitch Hairband Made With ChiaoGoo Needles

Slows Down Onset On Cognitive Illness

Knitting can help slow down cognitive illness related to memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. Knitting uses many parts or lobes of the brain at the same time and hence provides it with the required stimulation to keep it active. Studies have shown that seniors who knit had approximately 30% reduced chance of developing cognitive impairment.

Boosts Self-Worth

The joy and satisfaction of seeing someone wear your creation cannot be measured. Plus, in India at least, not many of the younger generation knit these days. So you would have a unique hobby or skill to showcase. When you gift someone with what you have knit, it is extremely personal as it is not just the product but the time and effort that you have spent. People are very appreciative of such gifts. You could also scale up and turn your hobby into a business and sell your uniquely handcrafted products online!

Lace Stitch Triangular Shawl

This last year I have slowed down on my knitting because of some change in my eyesight. I am still adjusting to the new glasses and am not yet comfortable with peering through them when I knit. I also have a new family member in the form of my dog Smokey. Keeping away knitting from pups is a good idea if you don’t want them to play with the yarn ball and unravel whatever you have knit 🙂 . However, I still did some small projects for my family and myself. I am currently experimenting with lanyards for masks!

Do any of you knit? If yes, I would love to connect with you and share ideas.

We recently celebrated Guru Purnima which pays tribute to our teachers. So I dedicate this post to Gunni Aunty, who fulfilled my dream of learning to knit and to Amrita who was my fellow-learner in this knitting journey and also my Belly Dance instructor.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla and sponsored by Queen’s Brigade.

This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter

16 Comments

  1. The reasons to knit are true but i cannot even sit and knit more than a little hairband. Tried. Now the blanket I had started to knit when i was pregnant with my 9 year old, is with my mom… she did some and now my 9year old said she will complete it herself once my mom teaches her to knit. Hahahha!

  2. WOW, Vasu! These are so cool. I am not good at it but I know it has amazing psychological benefits. I am glad you find it relaxing 🙂

  3. Loved your post! I love knitting and find it very soothing. Haven’t been able to do it much after kids and marriage, but now you have inspired me. I will surely start again. Thank you for inspiring me and writing this lovely post. Loved your work – keep knitting and spreading joy!

  4. Love knitting!! It’s really unique especially for the teenagers. In eastern India it’s also taken as “aunties job”. I know everything about knitting though I find it little boring. So, don’t do. But reading the benefits, I’m totally impressed and am thinking of taking out the needle sets from the loft. Thanks for the post.

  5. I would also love to learn how to knit. I think it’s a useful skill to have. I wasn’t aware of the cognitive benefits of knitting. Would it be possible to learn how to knit from YouTube tutorials?

  6. Such beautiful work! But I am very bad knitting I did give it a try when I was in college but never got around to finishing it. It requires so much patience and love to put in what you are creating. I would probably end up making a sweater with just the neck to go in and forget the sleeves. Great work Vasumathi!

  7. Lovely post Vasumathi, I am not good at knitting and it really takes a lot of patience. Thanks for sharing so many benefits of knitting, and now you made me curious enough to take out those knitting needles out and practice it once again.

  8. I’ve grown up watching my mom knit scarves and plate covers for festive season, toran and so many stuff for home and for her friends. It is definitely soothing and you enter into a phase I feel.

  9. Trust you to come up with interesting topics, Vasumathi. These are excellent pieces you have knitted. I am allergic to wool now. But I did enjoy knitting earlier. It is so relaxing. Somehow I am not a big fan of acrylic wool.

  10. My grand am is fantastic at knitting and I am zero. She knits so many things and recently I asked her to knit a bag. She lovingly does it but I never got an idea that I should learn too. I will try my hands on it.

  11. I do not know knitting but my 9 year old want to try, so we bought her needle and yarn. She knitted few wrist bands. I agree with the benefits you mentioned here.

  12. What a lovely outlook towards this art and expression of respect and gratitude to our Guru and friend, our dear Aunty Gunni ❤️
    I could resonate to every benefit you’ve noted, having experienced the excitement together when we started learning together.
    I’m sure many will be encouraged to pursue their dream of knitting reading your blog.

    Ps: you didn’t have two left feet 😉

  13. As I read the post, there were multiple “whaaaat” moments. I immediately called up my grandmom to check and turns out even she didn’t know a few of the facts you’ve mentioned.

  14. My mum and all her friends knit regularly. I used to do it with my mom during my childhood but I do not enjoy the long process, I did make a pair of socks or a cap during my home science project in school. But my mom enjoys knitting new patterns and designs. Also you are right, it’s difficult to find good quality yarn in India.

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Vasumathi

Blogger, Content Creator, Knowledge Facilitator, Hobby Photographer & Mom To A Naughty Dalmatian.