Recent research has revealed a strong connection between fabric and feelings of calm and happiness. Knitting is not only good for the brain, but it can also be beneficial for the body. Many older people experience difficulties with hand-eye coordination as they age, and knitting can help maintain fine motor skills, dexterity, and strength in the hands. In addition, there are schools across the country that incorporate fabric into the curriculum to develop fine motor skills, as well as other skills such as reading.
Knitting can also have a positive effect on mental health. It can lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce harmful levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and even reduce the likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30 to 50 percent for older people. Physiotherapist Betsan Corkhill has seen the positive results of knitting in her patients. At Magnolia Gardens, the knitting club creates a storm all year round, and its work benefits everyone in the residence, as well as community members.
The Craft Yarn Council conducts surveys every year to find out who knits and crochets, why they do it, and to ask about the benefits they feel they derive from yarn craftsmanship. One father of a premature daughter reported that during the baby's five weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, “learning to knit preemie hats gave me a sense of purpose during a time when I felt very powerless.” Knitting can be a great leisure activity that provides quality individual time and encourages you to turn a hobby into a social environment. It also teaches you to remember your mistakes so that you can devise strategies to avoid them in the future. At Sunridge Gardens, one of the residents has the entire Perls and Chains Knitting Club working on hand-woven dolls that they ship with a non-profit agency to Africa.
This is just one example of how knitting can be used to benefit others in addition to yourself. Overall, knitting is an activity that can have many positive effects on both your physical and mental health. It can help maintain fine motor skills, dexterity, and strength in the hands; reduce heart rate and blood pressure; lower harmful levels of cortisol; reduce the likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment; provide quality individual time; turn a hobby into a social environment; and benefit others in need.