Knitting and… Mindfulness? It’s Not as Weird as You Think!

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Is knitting a form of mindfulness? We checked in with our resident knitters, and the resounding answer was YES!

What Is Mindfulness, and How Does Knitting Fit In?

When you think about mindfulness–if you think about it all–what do you picture? Most people imagine someone in yoga gear breathing deeply with a serene smile. But the truth is that any activity can become an exercise in mindfulness. And it turns out that knitting is really great for calming your mind and soothing your soul.

The reason that knitting is such a wonderful form of mindful meditation is that it requires your full attention. Your hands are engaged in moving the needles and yarn. Your eyes are focused on the fabric unfolding before you. And your mind is filled with the pattern and gentle, rhythmic counting as you knit and purl.

It’s Easier–and More Rewarding–Than Meditation

When you first learn to meditate, many experts will tell you to just sit there and focus on your breath. It’s really easy to get bored and distracted while doing that.

But if you have something physical in your hands, such as a pair of knitting needles and some yarn, you have an anchor to focus on. As you knit one stitch, you breathe in. As you knit another, you breathe out.

The repetitive nature of knitting lends itself perfectly to this kind of gentle, stress-relieving mindfulness. Best of all, unlike many other forms of meditation, you actually get a nifty scarf or hat when you’re done!

Some Knitting Is More Stressful Than Others

If you’re determined to knit a complicated lace shawl or use multiple colors of yarn for a Fair Isle sweater, then you won’t get as much stress relief from the exercise. However, you may find a tricky pattern to be more engaging and rewarding.

As you get started with knitting, you may find that you’d rather stick to simple scarves without any fancy stitches. That’s totally fine! Plenty of knitters enjoy the process more than the product, and they focus on making hats and scarves for charity.

Knitting Is Good For Your Brain and Heart, Too

Studies have found that knitting offers a surprising number of health benefits. While knitting, people experience lowered heart rates, decreased anxiety and depression, and even decreased chronic pain.

It’s also a great activity for stimulating your brain. Because knitting uses both hands at once, a large number of neurons are constantly firing in your brain. Think of it like doing a puzzle while tap dancing–your body and brain have to work hard to make it happen!

How to Get Started with Mindful Knitting

If you’re a beginner or intermediate knitter, skip the fancy patterns and choose something simple, like a garter stitch scarf. Total beginners can find endless tutorials on YouTube to learn the basics!

Choose a yarn that feels good in your hands in a color that makes you happy. Grab the right size of needles–our experts recommend bamboo for their lightness and warmth, but any will do–and start knitting. No TV, music, or cell phones allowed!

As you make each stitch, try to be aware of the movements needed to make that little bit of magic happen. Breathe deeply and slowly, and pause periodically to make sure that you aren’t holding too much tension in your shoulders.