Knitting and Crochet Offer Long-term Health Benefits

Knit for a healthy heartThere are other benefits to knitting and crochet besides having something warm to wrap around your neck on a cold winter day. New studies show that knitting, crochet and similar repetitive needlework provide a number of health benefits. It has been found that rhythmic, repetitive acts help to manage stress, pain and depression, which in turn strengthens the body’s immune system.

In our increasingly busy, stressful lives, doctors are advising patients to manage stress as part of overall health. According to physiotherapist Betsan Corkhill, the act of knitting actually changes brain chemistry, decreasing stress hormones and increasing feel-good serotonin and dopamine.

Many doctors argue that the repetitive movements of knitting activate the same areas in the brain as meditation and yoga, which have been shown to help prevent pain and depression, and are practiced by many to relieve stress, relax and to momentarily escape from our busy lives.

Knitting and crochet have a calming effect overall, which will benefit all areas of one’s life.  Keep on knitting and crocheting and you too will see results!

For more information visit http://www.knitonthenet.com/issue4/features/therapeuticknitting/

Stitches in Time

Dionne-quints-knittingLegend has it that sailors wore sweaters with their family pattern knit into them so that their bodies could be identified if they died at sea.  Morbid as it may be, it is a notable application of the craft.

The actual origins of knitting are unknown.  Historic evidence of knitted pieces has been found in countries such as Egypt, England, Holland, Scotland, Spain, Germany.  The earliest evidence of knitted clothing found were fragments of socks that were made in Egypt sometime between 1000 and 1300 A.D.  However, even this is disputed since some scholars say that these socks were not knitted, but were the result of nalebinding, an ancient Scandinavian craft similar to knitting.

In the Middle Ages, knitting prospered and became a prominent industry. The manufacture of stockings was particularly important in Britain, and a number of knitting schools were established.  However, despite popular belief, it was men (and not women) who were the first to make a career in knitting!

The first trade union devoted to knitting professionals was founded in 1527 in Paris, which was run solely by men.  Soon knitted stockings became extremely popular and knitting became a household activity.  This is when women took over the craft.

The decline of knitting began in the 1980’s when machine knitted items cost less than the price of knitting the same item yourself.  However, an increased interest in traditional values has contributed to a sudden resurgence in knitting.  Knitting has become cool again.

Guest Post: Knitting is Not Only a Winter Pastime

This will be my first official summer as a knitter.  As the weather has gotten warmer and I’ve continued to chat with friends about upcoming projects I’ve started hearing rumblings of all sorts about how you just can’t knit in the summer.  The first few times I heard these grumbles I brushed them off with very little thought thinking “that won’t be me”.

However as the mercury has slowly continued to climb I’m beginning to remember the sweltering heat of July and August and with the daylight hours growing longer my desire to sit on the couch with yarn and needles in hand while I watch movies is beginning to be replaced with thoughts of lounging in the hammock with a good book.  Those words from more seasoned knitters are repeating themselves a little louder in the back of my mind.  But the nagging need to create something has me on a quest for projects that can keep my attention span through the summer and not melt in my hands.

My Internet knitting friends have come to the rescue with many varied project and book ideas!  I’ve been warned about large woolen blanket knitting but encouraged to take up socks because they’re a year-round project.  I’ve been told that adult size wool sweaters are out but tiny baby cardigans are doable.  I’ve been told that garments can be knit in cotton and that this is a perfect time to try out lace knitting.

I’ve also been encouraged to knit things in cotton and other alternatives fibers such as bamboo as they won’t stick to skin like wool has a tendency to do.  Friends have also mentioned that summer is a perfect time to knit a new summer wardrobe, start baby gifts (since they’re small) or make myself a nice cotton blanket.  Of course I can’t forget my standby gift of cotton washcloths.

Now my only problem is narrowing down the prospects! Of course if all else fails I’ll just pull the shades, put on a movie and crank up the A/C with needles and wool in hand.  The research for new and exciting projects has added so many to my list that ifI don’t keep going I’ll never finish in time to start the winter knitting!

Rebecca Blaho is consumed by all things fiber related and has been since a young age.  With a degree in fashion design (but a day job doing other things) her spare time is consumed by knitting, sewing and reading/studying those things.  Her goal this year is to get the stash under control.  She can also be found at http://erratic-diatribe.blogspot.com/.  Her Ravelry ID is beckb.

Knots-of-Love

Laurel Hill has partnered with Knots-of-Love, a non-profit organization that provides knitted caps for chemotherapy patients, by creating starter kits.  A crochet kit and knitting kit are available.  The knitting kit includes two forest palm knitting needles and the crochet kit includes two exotic wood crochet hooks; both include a skein of Caron Simple Soft Yarn, a pattern and instructions on where to send the cap when it’s finished.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this project,” says Rick Brown, co-owner of Laurel Hill.  “For each kit purchased, Laurel Hill will give $3 to Knots-of-Love.”

“We are very grateful for Laurel Hill’s involvement in Knots-of-Love,” Founder Christine Shively adds.  “We know with their help we will reach more cancer patients with handmade-with-love chemotherapy caps.”

Barbara Pretzsch won a free kit and has already sent six knit caps to the Knots-of-Love foundation.  To date, 18,281 caps have been donated.

For more information, and to find out how you can donate, pleae visit www.laurelhillonline.com and www.knots-of-love.org/

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