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4 ways knitting helped me through the covid-19 pandemic and why it could be helpful you too.

Sophie Moloney, owner of Moloneymakes, sits at her desk in front of a colourful wall of yarn. She is knitting, looking down as she works with a slight smile on her face

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Life has changed a lot in the past 16-18 months, to a point where what was once considered ‘normal’ is now difficult to remember. Since the covid-19 pandemic hit and the UK locked down, many of us have seen our lives turned upside down and inside out. It’s a trauma that is going to stick with us for years to come.

Since the first UK lockdown knitting has become immensely popular with people over the course of the pandemic. Big yarn companies like Wool And The Gang and Stitch And Story reported booming sales as a result of lockdown and since there’s been an incredible rise in the popularity and demand of craft kits and craft supplies for people looking for a creative and, may I add a necessary, therapeutic outlet in order to help them, well, survive. Crafts such as knitting and crochet quickly became a life line for people who suddenly found themselves out of work, isolating and more anxious than ever before.

A coffee cup sits alongside balls of yarn in oatmeal and grey and a pair of bamboo knitting needles on top of a copy of Koel magazine

Crafting, in general, has an enormous amount of benefits on our mental health and wellbeing. In fact, it only takes a few minutes of stitching to see a reduction in your heart rate and blood pressure so it’s completely understandable that so many of us were dusting off the knitting needles, or trying out a new skill when our collective anxiety levels were at an all time high. 

Knitting also acts as a method of meditation. Whilst some can struggle with the traditional idea of meditation, knitting can ease us into this mental state where we can allow our minds to calm and start to feel grounded and be conscious of our body, feelings and thoughts. We can feel the needles in our hands, the yarn through our fingers and we can land ourselves in the repetitive rhythmic motion of each stitch.

I may have already been an avid knitter before the pandemic began, but I do, and always will, turn to knitting and crafting as a way to manage when I am struggling with my mental health, pandemic or no pandemic. I find solace in my knitting needles and a sense of calm within the stitches so, I’d like to share with you:

4 ways knitting helped me through the Covid-19 pandemic and why, I think, knitting could help you too.

 

1. Knitting is meditative

Knitting creates a beautiful haven for the senses; the clicking of the needles, the rhythm of each knit or purl, the counting of the stitches. It’s enough to gently focus my mind and encourage me to fall into a what’s known as  a ‘flow’ state. Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1975, ‘flow’ refers to those blissful moments of connection between your mind and body where everything else falls away and you are completely absorbed by the task in hand.

To meditate is to focus ones mind for a period of time, so, in essence, if we reach a point of flow we are actually actively meditating, more often than not without even realising it. Meditation itself can positively impact both our mental and physical wellbeing by helping to reduce stress, improve our focus and mood, decrease levels of anxiety and depression and even help us to sleep better at night.

2. Knitting provides a sense of control and purpose

This is something I lacked, particularly at the very beginning of the pandemic. I’ll never forget what a rollercoaster the week leading up to the first national lockdown was; within a handful of days I had gotten laid off my full time barista job, gained it back with the announcement of furlough, agonised about the safety of my Mum who was considered high risk, and ultimately decided to spend the next X amount of time (the rest of my life, apparently) bunkering down with the guy I had been dating for just 6 weeks prior.

Like everyone, I didn’t know which way was up and knitting (and Moloneymakes in general) offered me a purpose and control that I desperately needed. I am a bit of a self confessed ‘control freak’. I crave structure and stability and those who know me can certainly vouch for that (along with my absolute inability to be flexible and overthinking of things which can start to verge on annoying…!). Needless to say, the pandemic didn’t exactly help with this.

However, I could pick up my needles and with it a sense of purpose; I had something I wanted to create and I set to finishing it. I used the mindfulness and meditative effects of knitting to my advantage to anchor myself in a calmer place where I could focus on that which was within my control. I could immerse myself in the cardigan I was stitching and if I did something wrong, I could rip it back and fix it. The entire project was in my control even if that did mean leaving the incorrect stitch anyway because I didn’t have the heart to rip back 20 rows. 

3. Knitting makes me feel good about myself

Knitting stuff gives me a huge sense of achievement. Seeing the aforementioned cardigan come to life was immensely satisfying and ultimately wearing something you k now you have made with your own two hands is incredible. Designing new products and have them actually turn out the way I pictured them in my head gives me a self confidence boost, learning new techniques and mastering new stitches makes me a better knitter and I feel that way too.

Seeing progress, especially when we are first starting out, provides you with such a powerful sense of accomplishment and who doesn’t like to show off something they’ve made to their friends? Even if it was via zoom and WhatsApp messages for a little while.

4. Knitting makes me happy

Similarly, knitting makes me happy. The meditative quality, the sense of accomplishment, the creative expression, everything combines to create a deliciously fizzy cocktail of happiness. And there are so many more aspects too; knitting something for a loved one, finding the perfect project for that gorgeous hand dyed yarn you’ve been hoarding, knitting using your favourite colour yarn, or a yarn that feels delicious to touch, it all adds to the experience.

Not to mention, there is not much else more satisfying than actually finishing and wearing something you physically made by hand. Except for maybe the answer when someone asks you where you got your knitted item from!

The act of knitting helped me and so many others through an incredibly unsettling time, and I for one hope this surge of creativity continues long into the future. 

What are you waiting for? Get knitting!

Don’t just listen to me bangin’ on about it; give it a go yourself. Dig out those old knitting needles, find an easy knitting kit, or a super cool knitting pattern to try out, buy some beautiful yarn from your local shop and enjoy the tactility of all the gorgeous squishy squishness.

A moment of calm is just a few stitches away.

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