Friday, February 27, 2009

For people that like lists

This is such a perfect list that I couldn't resist sharing it.... Perfect for persuading your professor to let you knit while in class perhaps?

What do you think of this list? Where would you post it? Can you add anything?

This is straight from the Stitchlinks Website:
Copyright Stitchlinks November 2007


 Slow down thought processes enabling you to think more clearly
 Stop cycles of stressful thoughts – useful to use before sleep
 Enhance problem solving enabling you to look at problems from all angles
 Facilitate mindful meditation – you don’t worry about the past or fret about the future
 Facilitate relaxation – necessary for bringing down high levels of stress hormones
 Distract – focus your mind away from problems
 Enable you to escape into the sanctuary of a quiet mind, giving your mind a break
 Encourage positive thought cycles helping to break negativity
 Improve mood and help to manage the worry associated with stress
 Improve feelings of loneliness/isolation if you've been over working
 Teach patience and perseverance – you don’t have to rush at everything
 Improve feelings of helplessness – stress is greater if you feel there’s nothing you can do
 Raise self esteem and confidence so you feel better equipped to manage stress
 Enable you to experience excitement, anticipation and achievement again
 Teach planning and goal setting so you become better organised
 Involve you in the outside world – opening up an alternative avenue away from stress
 Take them anywhere – their portability means you can deal with stress any time
 Improve communication skills – build communication networks at work and outside
 Help in peak stress times before deadlines or presentations
 Introduce enjoyment and fun into life, so life becomes more than work and stress
 Enable you to make friends at work or outside through groups
 Occupy you on your commute to work, so you arrive calm and collected
 Put you back in control
 Calm – great tools for workplace stress
 Encourage you to look forward to tomorrow

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Therapeutic Benefits of Knitting

Just recently I learned that a friend has received notice, and will become unemployed shortly. Most likely a change in lifestyle will follow, and I have been thinking about her lately. I wanted to acknowledge the situation, but how? Then I remembered that before this job she used to knit beautifully and prodigiously. I found myself putting together a small care package for her.

For me this would be a good consolation package: some beautiful organic O-Wool classic yarn and a pattern.... and some chocolate. There is the immediate remedy of chocolate to scare the demons away (or dementors just as professor Lupine knew in the Harry Potter series.) Then there is the immediate project, an activity. It feels intuitive that hand work would help her feel better. I have always felt that the process of knitting had that power. I remember coming to some conclusions about knitting in college. (not an arts or crafts college by the way!).

I started knitting seriously in college, and liked it for a number of reasons. One important reason was that it made long stressful car rides tolerable. Being a member of several athletic teams, I was often on the road heading to a game or race, and then heading home again. The knitting helped tremendously with all the negative aspects: the length of the drive, the case of nerves, a depressing performance, and side dramas with teammates. Instead the result was a great creative challenge, a finished garment (usually a hat) and later, pocket money as I started to sell them. I loved coming up with new color combinations and charting designs. I loved that knitting was portable. I loved that wool was a natural fiber. And oddly enough, I also appreciated that I could be comfortably warm when others were chilly in our underheated group house. The act of knitting seemed to raise my temperature just a bit, and engage my metabolism. (This led me to think it burned calories as well)

Lately, while listening to all the dire news about the downturn in our economy, I have been reflecting that hand crafts like knitting provide a wonderful combination of lifestyle benefits for a wide variety of people. I decided to look into this subject online and found a number of interesting sites. Betsan Corkhill of the UK has been interested in the therapeutic benefits of knitting and has developed a whole website which helps foster support and positive development in the face of life's changes. All the stitch arts: needlework, knitting and crochet are included.

There are several pages of quotes from people who attribute their ability to cope and thrive with their habit of knitting, or doing other stitch work.

Karen Zila Hayes of the Brainwaves School of Creative Arts has also written at length about the incredible therapeutic benefits of knitting, and has devoted herself to this mission in Knit Magic.

Apparently knitting has been known to help people with chronic pain, ADD and ADHD, cancer recovery, Post tramatic shock syndrome, grief related disorders, motor skills impairment and possibly more. I'm not really surprised to read this list. And I don't credit knitting alone perhaps. But knitting can help in so many situations. It can help lower blood pressure (and get you through a stressful family gathering), it can make you feel engaged instead of bored....I know I have felt these things. Why wouldn't others have their stories too.

Knitting is also being used by a network of voluteers to increase the positive quality of life for cancer patients. This group is called Knit for Life and has the following mission statement:

To support and enhance the lives of cancer patients and their caregivers while going through the process of treatment and recovery by the gentle and healing experience of knitting. This program enables patients and caregivers to come together and share experiences and concerns in a relaxed and supportive environment.

Their website is complete with news events, testimonials, support, and sponsors

In our overall economically stressful times, or in a particularly challenging time in a friend's life, maybe we should make a special effort to remember that hand work like hand knitting can actively play a positive role. Maybe now is the time to send out a care package, or start a new knitting group at your library, senior center, church or community hall. Or maybe now is the time for you to pick up a new knitting project; something that will calm, soothe, and engage you. A simple repetitious movement, with a natural wool organic yarn, (with or without a circle of friends,) can slow life down and remind us of connections that bring joy to life and help us remain resilient in the face of challenging change.