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Why Knitting and Crafts are Good for Your Mental Health

‘I always feel restored after meeting with my knitting friends. Knitting calms the anxious mind & knitting with others makes me feel more centered and hopeful - both personally and with my knitting projects. It will all work out - one stitch at a time.’ 

Stitches & Cream member 


You might think we’re a bit biased, but science backs us up here regarding the wonderful, soothing and restorative powers of knitting and crafts. So don’t just take our word for it!

 

There is a growing awareness of just how art, crafts, and knitting, alongside other practices which use your hands, have a whole host of mental health benefits. The beauty of this is that knitting and crafts are easily accessible and can be done from the comfort of your own home. They are gentle, calming ways to dedicate time to yourself, to appreciate the magic of creating something from nothing, and feel pride in your creation.


yarn and craft supplies scattered across a white marble table top


Why are Arts and Crafts Good for your Mental Health?

Arts and crafts are brilliant for mental health because they encourage a ‘flow’ state. By focusing on the task at hand, let’s say knitting a pair of gorgeous wool socks, your heart rate slows down. Gone are the worries of the day and that spiral of thoughts, because your hands and mind are focusing on the task at hand – those lucky socks!

 

This singular focus is really important for mental health, especially in a world where we’re surrounded by so many screens and constant stimulation. Is anyone else tired of the endless multi-tasking?! It often feels like a real treat to sit down and begin knitting, becoming completely absorbed in the calming, repetitive stitching.

 

Undertaking a creative project with an end result floods you with the feel-good chemical dopamine. The satisfaction of finishing that tricky jumper or just learning a new stitch will activate the brain’s reward centre and, in turn, boost your mood. Clever, hey! This boosted mood is brilliant for increased motivation and encourages you to continue similar behaviour thanks to the happy feelings associated with it. Which means more knitting, win-win.

 

Although knitting and crafts can be done solo, they are also social hobbies. We have knitting workshops, which are a great way for beginners to meet like-minded people who often become friends. We also have our Stitchers Meet Up, which takes place every Tuesday morning and gives knitters a chance to catch up on their projects and share thoughts, stories, and skills.


That is why we are launching the Cornish Knitters online community, or ‘flock’, to create that social vibe worldwide.

 

Social interaction can be daunting for many, but with your focus on your knitting project, you can share as much or as little as you like  . However, being around others and sharing a goal will reduce feelings of loneliness and improve confidence. This engagement with others enriches our lives, opening us up to new possibilities and new friendships, which help us nurture a positive outlook on the world. We often see with our knitters that there’s a real sense of belonging, they have found their tribe.


‘What I like most about being part of the knitting community is the friendship it brings me, and people are so happy to share ideas and help when you're having problems with your knitting.’ M.S  


Craft as a Tool for Anxiety Management

The restorative powers of craft have been prescribed to patients since the beginning of occupational therapy in the late 19th century. Soldiers with both physical and mental wounds were encouraged to take part in basketry lessons. This recognition of how crafts can aid healing and calm anxiety is still evident today, with many veteran mental health charities offering arts and crafts workshops. 


Gentle movements reduce inflammation, social interaction helps combat loneliness and depression, and the focus used when working with your hands helps ease anxiety and calm thoughts.

 

With knitting in particular, the repetitive actions and multi-sensory engagement through the soft wool and the gentle tapping of the needles reduce stress hormones and activate rewarding, joyful feelings of safety and productivity.

 

 

Types of Arts and Crafts Projects to Try

The beauty of trying your hand at creative hobbies is that the benefits lie largely in the process. If your stitching is a little too tight or loose, or you’re sewing in a wonky line, the joy is in the act itself. With patience and time, the results will become more refined, but learn to love the process too. This is the bit that’s really good for you, your mind, and your health.

 

Convinced? Here are seven easy ways to tap into your creativity and reap the mental health benefits of arts and crafts.

 

We would love to hear which ones work for you!



Knitting

Knitting involves creating stitches, or loops of yarn, using knitting needles. As you advance, you can try new stitches, making your garments look even more luxurious and complex. 

looking over the shoulder of someone knitting

Knitting is probably our go-to hobby to try (who’d have thought?), as at all stages from beginner to advanced, you can make beautiful things. From scarves, to socks, to jumpers and cardigans, the learning process slowly introduces you to new stitches and patterns, in manageable steps.

 

We also find that knitting is an inclusive and sociable hobby, with lots of knitters happy to knit and natter. This is a lovely and relaxed way to share tips and appreciate others.

 

There is a wealth of beautiful high quality wool yarns to make your project even more special, and searching for the perfect yarns becomes a hobby in itself! We stock a range of natural yarns and needles, and can advise you on the best ones to get you started, or suit a particular project.




Crochet


Crochet is becoming really popular, and we can see why! We get asked to teach people to crochet all the time, as it feels so accessible to all. Crochet is a type of needlecraft in which you use a crochet hook to interlock loops of yarn rather than knitting needles.


A crochet hook and yarn

Making crochet pieces is quicker as the stitches are generally taller than knitting stitches, so you can cover more ground. If you like to see results quickly, then why not try crochet?



Sewing

Sewing can be as complex or as straightforward as you like, be warned though – it is addictive and packs a punch with the feel-good factor. On the beginner end of the scale you can learn the simple basics, how to pin and hem your trousers, repair your clothes, or make small adjustments to them. This is great if you’re environmentally or financially conscious and would like to make do and mend with the clothes you have, reducing the need to buy more.


Hand embroidering a floral design

On the other hand, learn how to make your own clothes! You can buy paper patterns for so many beautiful garments, tweak them to your measurements for bespoke clothing, and choose gorgeous fabrics. It is the most rewarding feeling to wear clothing you have made.


Or if clothes aren’t your thing embroidery is very soothing and you can create stunning gifts and projects you can either keep, or share with others.





Fabric Crafting

Perhaps it’s the actual fabrics and textiles that interest you more than the finished garments? 


Why not try your hand at fabric crafting. You can play with shapes and colour palettes to create textile wall art, or the beginnings of quilts, using scraps of fabrics or yarns you have lying around. This is a great way to reduce waste and enjoy being creative without worrying about whether the final product will fit you.


You might gather fabrics and create gorgeous geometric patterns, or stunning landscapes, maybe a collage floral textile piece? This an opportunity to get your creative juices flowing. Once finished, frame or hang your textile art for all to see.



Reels of thread scattered across a patchwork quilt


Painting and Drawing

Picking up your paint brushes or taking your sketchbook and charcoal off on a scenic Cornish walk, is one of the most therapeutic hobbies there is. Painting and drawing from landscape or life really encourages you to soak up your environment. 


Being in nature has so many mental and physical benefits, gently moving your body and your mind. Getting out there to paint and draw is the perfect reason for some fresh air.

 

Perhaps you’re craving something a little more conceptual and freeing, why not use the canvas as a means to express yourself? See where the paints and shapes take you, and enjoy the cathartic release of complete freedom within your canvas. It is yours to claim.



A person drawing outdoors


Clay

Here in Cornwall, we are well known for our deep rooted love of clay. From the Leach Pottery in St Ives to the many contemporary practising ceramicists today, Cornwall has an incredibly diverse range of pottery. 


The Cornish landscape is abundant in minerals, and in the early 1800s St Austell’s deposits of China clay were the largest in the world! Did you know that the Eden Project sits in a former China clay mine?



Two hands at a potters wheel adding finishing touches to a pot

 

Working with clay is wonderful, surrendering to the mess and learning how to create functional homewares yourself is a joyful skill to have. There are different approaches; you could start slowly with coiling, a technique where you roll out narrow sausage like strips of clay, before coiling them and using your fingers to press and smooth the shape. Or, get a little adrenaline pumping and create pottery on the wheel, which results in smoother and more even finishes.

 

There are now many places to take part in pottery workshops, or make use of expertise and kilns in dedicated community spaces. Once you’ve begun, you’ll be hooked. We’ll be coming to you for the tableware!


Just down the road is The Poly, a hub of creativity in Falmouth, where they regularly host pottery workshops. Between us and The Poly, you’ll also find Sam Marks at Studio Dor, who holds smaller pottery introductions. 


Calligraphy

Keep your tools to a minimum, and get yourself some gorgeous paper and an ink pen. 


Calligraphy is the visual art of writingand examines the design of the letters themselves. With so much time spent communicating via screens, we are in danger of losing the art of writing itself and the romance of composing letters. It takes time and skill to write beautifully, and if you’re a perfectionist, this could be the ideal hobby for you.

 

Research has shown that practicing calligraphy can fine-tune your motor skills by engaging both sides of your brain and many senses in one go.


The Power of Online and In-Person Crafting Communities and Easy ways to get crafting to boost your mental health

 

We mentioned it above, but it’s worth reinforcing because the knock-on benefits of knitting and crafts within a group are so powerful. Whether online or in-person, knitting and crafts communities are warm and welcoming. 


The most fulfilling benefit of all is reducing social isolation and encouraging you to relate to others and share with them. Your passion becomes so much more than just a creative hobby and is soon a new lifeline, a few hours each week that you look forward to and revel in. The kids these days are calling it ‘self-care,’ and we like the sound of that. 



A sheet of calligraphy with a pen and sprig of eucalyptus to the side


Find a Local Craft Club

Get started and see what happens. Search the Internet for local craft communities, workshops, or events to find a nearby craft club. Ask those around you if they know of any craft clubs, and take a friend along with you if you’re feeling nervous.


Here at Stitches and Cream, we regularly hold workshops and events, so why not see if they tickle your fancy? 


We hold weekly Stitches Meet Ups in our shop in Falmouth, Cornwall. They are held every Tuesday at 10:30am. Book your place here.


A lady holding a beautiful

Get Crafting at Home

Enjoy tapping into your creativity from the comfort of your own home! It’s great to set up a dedicated space where you can work on projects as and when, which becomes a creative haven.

 

Why not involve the family in your projects, seeking their advice on colours and styles. Before long they’ll be asking you for plenty of knitted goods if you take to knitting!


We also offer an Online Sock Club subscription where you will receive a gorgeous sock yarn, sock pattern, an exclusive Cornish stitch marker and a gift every other month, but you will also be able to join our online social group where everyone wants to create great socks.

In our online forum, you will get lots of video tutorials and info with each release, as well as Knit and Knatter socials and Q&A sessions.





Join Online Communities

With online communities, the world is your oyster, and tips and projects can be shared from far and wide. Online communities are brilliant if you have a busy schedule and can’t commit to in-person groups or don't live near a group that knits together. You’ll feel like you’re a part of something on your own terms. 


After the feedback from our YouTube podcasts, we have decided to launch our own online community, the  Cornish Knitter Flock, in response to all the comments about how it helps people feel connected to a shared passion for yarn and fibre crafts. We aim to make this community a really inclusive, warm, and supportive place where anyone worldwide can connect, learn, and be inspired by each other.

Click on our ‘Cornish Knitter’ tab to find out more.




 

We love the review below by one of the wonderful knitters in our Stitches & Cream online community!


‘It’s such a pleasure to sit and knit and listen to knitters around the world talking about their craft. I’ve had so many great recommendations for patterns and yarns from virtual friends! And it’s fascinating to hear about the weather around the world from the cosy comfort of my sofa. Many thanks, Jane, for your contribution to this lovely community.’ J.W

 

There we have it, our low-down on how knitting and crafts benefit your mental health. We’ve seen in our own lives, and through our fantastic customers just how important a creative passion becomes, and how much you can progress with time and the support of others! What now might feel daunting, you’ll soon be a dab hand at.

 

If you’d like to dip your toe into the knitting world, but don’t know how to get started – contact us and we’ll guide you through it.



  



 


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