Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Knitting for Good: Chapter 3

I just finished reading chapter three of Knitting for Good by Betsy Greer. This chapter was about Knitting as Therapy. It talked about knitting as a form of meditation/relaxation and as away to distract oneself from chronic pain. I'm fortunate not to suffer from chronic pain, so I can't talk to that point. But I think that the mental and emotional affects of knitting are interesting. I think thats one of the reasons I like to have so many knitting projects going at once. I need to have a really simple project for times when I just can't handle anything more challenging that stockinette, and when my brain needs to just go to that special quiet place where it can rest. If I'm worried about something and can't stop thinking about it, a complicated lace pattern is ideal because it takes all of my concentration, not leaving me any room in my brain for anything else. This chapter mainly talks about knitting alone as a way to deal with emotional pain, but for me knitting serves other functions. Like many of you, I love going to open knit night at my LYS, or just going out for coffee and knitting with a friend. But just because its social doesn't mean that this type of knitting isn't serving an emotional purpose, too. Sometimes I think that knitting allows us to go into social situations that we wouldn't be comfortable in otherwise. I'm not naturally very comfortable in social situations. I need an excuse to spend time with people, not because I don't like people, but because I tend to feel awkward. But with knitting in hand, there are less demands. If there is a break in conversation and its quiet for a few minutes, you aren't just sitting there staring at each other. And for me, thats a type of therapy too!

How does knitting play into your emotional life, if at all? Do you knit when you are stressed, sad, happy, tired, energetic? Does knitting calm you down or energize you? Do you mainly knit alone, or with other people? 

Also, if you do suffer from chronic pain, have you noticed knitting helping to distract you?


Turtle said...

knitting is my mental yoga, it keeps me grounded, the brain waves working, clicking, my fingers and brain busy, improves my quality of life! (i even take my knitting hiking and backpacking with me...i knit on the ferry even!)

kangath said...

I knit alone. I do knit when other people are around (waiting in line, rehearsal breaks, etc.), and once in a while when I take the kids to the park another mother will be there knitting, too, but I have never attended a knitting function. Occasionally I think I'd like to, but working nights and weekends makes that hard. The idea of online knit-a-longs doesn't appeal to me so much, though. I like that this is something I can do by myself. I'm debating whether to join Ravelry. I guess I'm not sure what it is, really.

Knitting both calms and energizes me. Like you, I always have several projects going. Something for every mood! I had a stretch of time last year when I didn't knit for months (couldn't find time to cast on! I need to be in a certain space to start a project), and I really felt the difference when I came back to it. It balances me. I have since figured out how to always have something on the needles. Lovely.

Summer said...

I am loving these posts Laura.

It is something I learned to do while still in chronic pain. Fortunately for me I've gotten (mostly) better and only have occasional flares. I found then that it was soothing and helpful, distracting from the physical pain. Now, I can't seem to think clearly enough during a flare - plus it's in my hands - so knitting doesn't happen.

I knit to relax, to de-stress and sometimes just to kill time. I feel so much better, my head clearer, and when I'm feeling foggy or frustrated about something I will go knit on the porch or with a friend over tea.

I have to be really careful not to knit when I am upset about something though. Angry knitting makes for a really tight guage - and I already knit tightly.

I often knit in church, lectures, etc too because it helps keep that part of my brain that tends to wander off during such things in check. Knitting is very meditation like for me.:)

Cindy & Me said...

I have RA and OA in both hands and
knitting helps keep my hands limber thus easing the pain ..