Crafts, Knitting

Knitting to Stay Sane – How Knitting Helps Maintain Well-being

I’ve been knitting to stay sane for awhile now, and when I knit I’m not stuffing my face or running one worry after another through my mind. Knitting is a very Zen activity. It quiets the mind and body, and that’s a great thing!

I thought I’d share with you extracts from a variety of articles on the subject of knitting and its health benefits. You’ll feel better for knowing that your hobby is doing more than just producing mittens, sweaters, and afghans. And, what applies to knitting also applies to crocheting, which I do and you may as well.

Knitting has been called the “new yoga” for good reason. Famous for its relaxing, meditative qualities, knitting increasingly is being used in hospitals, clinics, schools and even prisons to help people lead healthier, happier lives. And there’s data to prove it.

A 2009 study published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders showed that when 38 women with anorexia nervosa were taught to knit and given free access to knitting supplies, they reported significant improvements. An impressive 74 percent said knitting lessened their fears and kept them from ruminating about their eating disorders; 74 percent lauded the calming aspects of the craft and 53 percent said it provided satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. [source: Craft Yarn Council]

Knitting to Stay SaneI know that when I knit I am fully involved in my project. I even like “troubleshooting” a knitting booboo, for example changing several rows of purl stitches to knit stitches without tinking every row. It’s better to obsess over a knitting mistake than obsess over a meal, a health issue, or a financial constraint.

A 2011 study from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences showed that doing crafts such as patch-working or knitting during middle age, combined with watching less television, decreased the odds of later cognitive impairment and memory loss by 30 to 50 percent, and promoted the development of neural pathways. [Source: The Sacramento Bee]

I’m all for keeping my memory intact!
The rhythmic movements of knitting offer many of the same kinds of benefits as meditation, says Carrie Barron, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York and co-author of the book “The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness With Your Own Two Hands.” In addition, she says, seeing a project take shape provides a deep sense of satisfaction. “When we have a life-affirming project going on that grabs the self and gets it to work in a positive way, that is an antidepressant,” Barron says. [Source: The Washington Post]

Didn’t I say knitting was Zen-like?

Research from 2007 at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Institute proved that knitting induces the relaxation response and lowers heart rate on average by 11 beats per minute. Blood pressure also drops when knitting. [Source: SD Dickens]

Women with high blood pressure can certainly benefit from knitting/crocheting, but it would really be great to see more men knitting, especially those with this health issue. Knitting also helps those with PTSD and those with chronic pain. WWI Soldiers with PTSD, who returned to England after battle in Europe, found knitting helped them overcome stress, and those who have suffered chronic pain have used knitting to ease their discomfort.

You’re a lucky person if you knit or crochet! It means you’re equipped to improve mind and body health. Try to pass on your skill to others so that they too can benefit.


Crafts, Knitting

Beginner Knitting Blanket Pattern for Baby

babyblanketA To gain knitting mastery, it’s important to repeat basic knitting stitches over and over. This beginner knitting blanket pattern will help new knitters increase their dexterity with needles, and the repetition of foundation stitches will make the next project so much easier. Other good things about this pattern is gauge isn’t important and almost any yarn can be used. This is perfect for mothers who want to learn to knit for their first baby or want to give a hand-made gift to a friend who will be a new mother.

Knitting Stitches for Knitting Baby Blanket

Materials for Baby Blanket

  • Worsted Weight Yarn (5 sts=1 inch) – proportional (e.g., 3 skeins for increases and 3 skeins for decreases). Recommendation: Wool blend or Cotton blend
  • Size 8 knitting needles
  • Scissors
  • Needle for weaving in ends

I used 6 skeins of Trendsetter Scoubi Du yarn. Each skein equals 95 yards; therefore, total yardage used was 570 yards (final dimensions 24×24 inches). The yarn is 50% cotton and 50% acrylic. The acrylic fibers make the yarn a little stretchy – that makes me think this would be a great blanket for swaddling a baby.

Baby Blanket Pattern

Note: as you do the increases, you’ll notice the shape developing is a triangle. You’ll knit until you have the desired length and width of the blanket. The decrease side of the blanket is knitting a triangle in reverse. You must make sure you have the same amount of yarn for the increase side and for the decrease side.

Cast on 2 stitches using the long tail cast-on.
Row 1: K1, yo, K1.
Row 2: K2 (knit two individual stitches), yo, knit all stitches to end.
Repeat Row 2 until you have the desired height and width for your blanket.

When you’re happy with the height and width, it’s time to begin decreasing.

Row 1: K1, K2tog, yo, K2tog, knit to end.
Repeat row until 4 stitches remain.
K2tog twice. Turn.
K2tog to finish. Tie off yarn and weave in loose ends.

This pattern is often used to knit washcloths using 100% cotton yarn. You can use this pattern to knit any size square.

Once I finished my blanket, I washed and blocked it. I tied a bow through the eyelets in one corner to add a bit of decoration. If you crochet, you might want to add a picot edge around the blanket.

Good luck all beginner knitters!!



Raglan Cardigan from the Top Down

When you really like a knitting pattern, it’s crazy to knit it once. This is my second time to knit a raglan cardigan from the top down. The first time I knit this pattern was about two years ago. This time, the gauge is better, even though I used the same type of yarn, Lion Brand Wool-Ease. There is a nicer fit under the arms.

This is a popular pattern on Lion Brand (note: You may need a Lion Brand login to access the pattern online.). I’ve seen it knit up as a show piece at Holley’s Yarn Shoppe in Dallas, and Very Pink has a tutorial for making the cardigan. Not only is the pattern popular, it’s practical. This sweater can be knit in a rainbow of colors and worn year-round with pretty much anything.

raglan cardigan from the top down

Knit this raglan cardigan easily. Think of all the clothing you can pair it with.

Don’t forget to knit a gauge swatch. It makes all the difference in the world. I did it both times I knitted the sweater, but again, the second time was much better.

This cardigan was knit using size 6 needles for the ribbing and size 7 needles for the body and sleeves. The yarn is a cocoa color of Lion Brand Wool-Ease.