Recent studies revolutionize the concept of yarn craft like knitting and crocheting as the pastime of the elderly and unemployed housewives. In fact, researches and recent studies stress the importance of its therapeutic value in mental health. As a result, people in their 20s and 30s are drawn towards this art. According to ‘Revelry” a social net- working site for knitters and crafters , 38 million people world -wide have taken up knitting as the golden panacea for mental and emotional illness.
And there is a lot of truth in “Knit a cold, also knit a fever. And a break up”!
According to studies ‘the repetitiveness’ of knitting help in releasing ‘serotonin’, the feel good ‘ chemical in the brain. It not only boosts your creativity and problem- solving skills but also increases your immune system and prevents insomnia. Even while watching TV, one can knit which gives the mind the required stimulation.
Dr. Carrie Barron a renowned Psychiatrist with the Columbia College of Physicians considers knitting as a tool for alleviating anxiety. She says, “There is something gratifying in taking strings & pieces & making them whole. There is something primitive and innate about that. The fragments of the mind also come together in the process .It’s a parallel process between the mind and the hands. “While Dr. Carrie Baron insists knitting as a tool for alleviating anxiety, her husband Dr. Alton Barron, an Orthopedic Surgeon and President of the New York Society of Surgeons and avid knitter proves that knitting can prevent arthritis and tendinitis .According to Dr. Alton Barron, moving the joints of the fingers to move in and out of the surrounding, sponge- like cartilages, keeping the joints well- hydrated, minimize the risk of arthritis.
Knitting is an effective anti - depressant.
Thirty three year old Athena Wallis, a mother of three taught herself knitting from video tutorials and now reaches the needles anytime she feels depressed.” It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to feel good because I focus all my attention on knitting and forget my worries.”
Dr. Herbert Brown of the Harvard Medical Schools associate Wallis ‘ experience to the effect of meditative practices which can lower blood pressure and can also alleviate the symptoms of insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Knitting is a great stress reliever and the relaxation response is exactly like meditation. That is why knitting is known as the modern yoga.
When you go through the unbearable but inevitable pain of, losing the dear and near ones, knitting comes to your rescue. It is proved when you are absolutely lost and could not think of normal functions, knitting a few minutes would get you closer to normalcy.
Knitting has a ‘flow’ impact on brain. According to Positive Psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi ‘flow’ is a state which people are involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.
Experts consider knitting as a possible explanation for longevity as proved by the centenarian knitters.
109 year old Alfred Date ,the oldest person in Australia is a prolific knitter & knits penguin Jumpers for the ’Penguin Foundation’ for the rehabilitation of little penguins, following an oil spill near Philip Island in 2001. Apart from jumpers he knits beanies for premature babies and caps for friends
104 year old Dody Patterson of Oregon knits 250 caps a year for ‘Caps for kids’. Dody Patterson, a passionate knitter says,” Knitting is satisfying, it’s restful, it exercises the eyes & the hands & it keeps my mind exercised”.
Despite the findings about the enormous benefits, knitting is a relatively recent invention unlike spinning and weaving. The invention of the fishing -net made it initially a man’s prerogative to catch fish.
Historians argue that Knitting originated in the Arab World and with the Crusades spread into Spain. They point out that the proof of it lies in the way the knitters work their stitches from right to left while English -writing starts from left to write. Thus originated in the Middle East, this beautiful craft g spread to Spain with the Crusades.
It is interesting to note that the word ‘knit’ is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Cnyttan’ meaning ‘ to tie a knot’ but this word ‘knit’ was not added to English until 1400.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, a prolific knitter, knitting and other handicrafts flourished tremendously in England. In fact, knitting machine was invented by William Lee, a clergy man in 1549, during the regime of Queen Elizabeth. After this invention, knitting was gradually taken over by Guild organized Cottage Industries of the 17th & 18th centuries.
During World War 1, huge quantities of socks, cap & sweaters were knitted for the soldiers. It served as an emotional outlet for women as they waited for the news from the front while their frenzied fingers were knitting. During World wars 1 and 2, the boys in Schools too started knitting for the troops. Now, the Crafts Council estimates that 2 million boys and men knit now.
“Tricoteuse “ means “Knitting Woman “ in French and during the French Revolution the knitting women sit beside guillotine and knit through the execution. They would jeer and shriek and knit as the upper class were led to the guillotine. Charles Dickens in his “Tale of Two Cities”, turns knitting, a frequent symbol of a loving grandmother, into an ominous, cruel and inhuman act. In Tale of Two cities,
Madam Defarge used pattern stitches as a code and knitted a list of Upper class doomed to be guillotined.
As though to counter this evil image of knitting, now, many turn to knitting for noble cause.
Susie Hewer was the first to set the Guinness Book of World Record for knitting while running a marathon to support the Alzheimer’s Association of Heart of America chapter. Inspired by her example, David Babcock knitted the longest scarf, 12 feet, 1.75inches, while running the Kansas City Marathon in October of 2013.
David, who completed the marathon in 5 hours, 48 minutes & 28 seconds, also ran for Alzheimer’s charity, like Susie.
Recently, more and more youngsters, Hollywood stars, College Students, Doctors and other professionals are falling in love with this beautiful craft, whether it is due to passion, fashion or health.
The huge impact of knitting/ crocheting on the ‘catwalk’ is incredible. The new fashion trend which demands unique styles can be easily achieved effortlessly by hand made knitwear for both men & women.
Designer Rodika Walkind uses different crochet/ knit techniques to create her dream dresses which got the international recognition in Cordiaknit 2013 collection.
Christopher Kane’s ‘Fall ready to wear’ collection, makes intensive use of GrannySquare, one of the most basic crochet motif.
Similarly, Kaffee Fasset turns his prodigious talents to make ethereal pastel- colored creations, using a host of crochet techniques.
It is interesting that this year’s 11th Annual Pittsburg Knit & Crochet Festival which starts on Friday, March 27th 2015, is hosted by the Fab Four : Inspirational fiber Artist Stevenbe , ‘ the crochet Dude’ Stephen Drew, ‘the Sock King’ Charles Gandy, ‘Double Knitting Master’ Alasdair Post Quinn, four most celebrated fashion designers.
India’s Award-winning Hotel, Mysore hosts ‘Holiday knitting’. India knit fairs like the Thiruur Fair in Coimbatore brings out the enormous possibilities of the yarn craft to the fashion- conscious, new generation in India.
Further, the creative entrepreneurs all over the world use ‘Etsy’ to market their unique creations where people around the world connect both on line and off line to make, sell& buy unique handmade dresses, accessories etc.
While Yesteryear’s Hollywood stars like Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Gary Cooper were known for their knitting, today many celebrities like the Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, Julia Roberts, Vanna White, Cameron Diaz, Sara Jessica Parker are known for their passion for knitting. Actor Ryan Gosling leant knitting in the set of ’Lars and the Real girl.”
Knitting, an inexpensive art which needs only a pair of needles and yarn is indeed a great boon in the present day scenario. Apart from its therapeutic value, using imaginatively knitting/ crocheting would make a dramatic change in your wardrobe too. So, what are you waiting for? Get some yarn and pair of needles and click away adding to your wardrobe, while watching TV.