Knitting as Therapy by Elizabeth Jarvis
Crafting has long been regarded as the ideal pastime for relaxation. Making something yourself is therapeutic in many ways, starting with the time spent whilst creating and at the end of the process having a beautiful finished item. Knitting in particular has been found to be very beneficial as a method of relaxing and the regular, repetitive motions can calm the nerves and reduce tension in the same way as meditation, yoga or tai-chi. It is also very portable and can be done in all sorts of stressful situations. A few years ago I was due to have an operation so whilst I was waiting to go to theatre I worked on a simple lacy scarf using some gorgeously soft yarn. When the nurse came to do my pre-surgery checks she commented on how laid-back I was compared to a lot of patients who find the whole hospital experience very upsetting. We had a good chat about knitting, and she agreed with me that it has a very calming effect. During my convalescence I worked on a simple cardigan in a cheerful mustard yellow alpaca/silk yarn which helped to raise my spirits in two ways – the knitting itself and the happy shade I was using. The colour of yarn can also have a great influence on mood. Whilst at school I wore a dull uniform, and since then I have disliked grey with a passion. When my sons started school I knitted them both a jumper so that if they felt nervous they could think about ‘wearing a hug’ that Mum had made just for them. What a pity the uniform was grey….knitting those little jumpers was pure torture for me and after that they always wore shop-bought school sweaters! A quick poll of knitters will reveal their favourite colours to knit with and not surprisingly everyone will have shades that they find relaxing, mood-lifting or completely annoying. Black is one of the least-loved shades to knit with because it can be hard to see the stitches clearly, especially for those with eyesight problems.
Choice of yarn influences the enjoyment level of knitting. There’s an alpaca farm that I like to visit in a beautiful part of the Midlands, and whenever I go I like to buy some yarn as a souvenir. I particularly love knitting with it, and as I knit I like to picture the animals sunning themselves out in the fields. They have a website – www.toft-alpacas.co.uk – so even if you can’t visit in person it’s well worth a look online. Although I have alpaca tastes I have to get by on an acrylic budget so fortunately there are plenty of more affordable yarns that give me a similar sense of wellbeing when I knit with them.
Next time you’re shopping for yarn choose something that will make you relaxed and content as you knit, and maybe you might like to check out my knitting patterns at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/elizabeth-jarvis for some inspiration. Happy crafting!