Guest post by Kate Myerscough
There is something meditative about the careful counting of stitches, repeating the same actions one after the other. In fact, this is something that health studies agree with, as the benefits of knitting are more than ever being promoted as a form of mindfulness. A recent study conducted by Knit for Peace concluded that knitting lowers blood pressure, induces a sense of wellbeing, counters depression and slows the onset of dementia; quite a list for a relatively simple task.
The value of activities such as knitting and crochet lie in the fact that they are phyical, creative tasks that can be carried on to old age, often when many people’s physical capabilities are in decline. Some of Knit for Peace’s knitters are 100 years old and the majority are over retirement age. It would also be foolish to ignore the social benefits of knitting, and this is where Knit for Peace come into play.
Organising the distribution of knitted supplies to those in need, including refugees from Syria, street children in India and hospitals in the UK, the knitters of Knit for Peace also gain a sense of wellbeing for helping others through craft. Knitting for others combats isolation and creates a sense of community. In fact, 63% of over 1,000 knitters surveyed said knitting for others made them feel useful, and 92% said that knitting improved their mood. In an aging population where loneliness is on the rise, initiatives such as this are valuable, particularly as they ease the strain on the health service.
Knitting and crochet have long been overlooked, often relegated to the stereotype of a quaint and aged pastime, but its value is clearer than ever. The outlet of providing essential goods to those in need not only results in very tangible benefits for those receiving the goods, but for the makers as well. The physical, mental and social benefits of knitting are aspects of craft that truly need to be explored in our society of ageing and rising isolation. This is what Knit for Peace excel at, with a system where the health benefits of knitting are given to all.