Knit for Mental fitness
During my summer vacations growing up, I spent endless hours daydreaming and observing my grandma and aunts doing their chores. As an 80’s child, I grew up in an environment sans any digital entertainment. The month of April marked the Indian summers and time spent with close family. It was during this time; I watched my grandmom weave individual jasmine flowers into a garland. That was my first introduction to the art of weaving. I have been enthralled ever since how a simple repetitive motion can simultaneously improve concentration and help calm your mind.
Three decades later, I still find working with yarn, threads any artform that involves weaving repetitive pattern fascinating. I find working with yarns - wool, polyester, silk, cotton, acrylic, as a unique means to explore and expand our creativity. Patterns always intrigue me and being a hands-on person, and I prefer using any form of hand/elbow knitting in place of using needles. Hence, when introducing young ones or adults to yarn work, my go-to choice is finger knitting.
Like many arts, media gets age stereotyped, like playdough is for pre-schooler, watercolour for young adults, knitting is heavily age-stereotyped. I find many might conjure the image of grannies or expectant moms knitting sweaters or baby caps. Though crocheting and knitting are popular among specific demographics, I feel it is a media that needs to be explored in varying ways by the wider population. Given there are far too many mental health benefits of knitting.
Research reveals that knitting is an effective coping strategy to combat addictive tendencies like smoking and emotional eating and improve dexterity and fine motor skills (Nytimes, 2016). Research has also proven that knitting can also help cope with a severe illness diagnosis or deal with life adversities like losing a loved one or separation. I’m particularly drawn to the findings that suggest how a simple act of knitting can help reduce blood pressure, improve our focus, sense of engagement, reduce the sense of isolation and loneliness (Mental Health America, 2021).
In this current state of navigating the world post-Covid lockdown, I find social anxiety at its peak, especially among our young ones. While some of them are eager to get out and meet friends, there are still some who prefer communicating through virtual screens. To those young ones, learning to knit among peers may be a gentle way to ease back into social interactions.
Knitting is also a great way to take stock of mental hygiene for adults. A meditative mode of expression provides an opportunity for the individual to reflect on their mental state, helping them gain self-awareness and mental clarity. Research reveals that just twenty minutes of knitting can help individuals relax and achieve a calmer state of mind.
It is based on my childhood experiential knowledge and research findings; at Mindkshetra, we explore knitting as our choice of the art form for April and May for young ones and adults.
For young ones (9-12yrs) through our weekend classes Finger Knit Creators - introduces the young person to the art of finger knitting. Once they master creating strands, they are taught to explore designing their own creations - toys, scarves, blankets.
Our discovery hour sessions for adults are also centred around experimenting with finger knitting and using it as a strategy to gain mental clarity. To know more about these workshops or to enrol check out our workshops.