Therapeutic Benefits of Knitting

Hello Everyone:

I heard this amazing story recently of a woman who recovered her communication and cognitive abilities simply by knitting. She was seeing a neuropsychologist, too, but he was the one that had her doing the knitting and would assign certain patterns to her. I thought this was amazing.

I think we can all attest to the therapeutic benefits of knitting, whether it’s to help us regroup or move through a passage of life. I personally have found knitting to be of tremendous benefit in helping me through my midlife crisis! There is just something so nurturing and wholesome that I have found very healing.

I just thought I’d ask if there’s anyone else here who feels that knitting has benefitted them personally in some way and would like to share? I’d be really interested in hearing what people have to say. :grinning: :v:


I am new to knitting, but it does help relieve my stress. It gives me time to focus on other things. The biggest reward is creating something for a future someone which makes me feel good. No greater reward than seeing someone smile when they are down.


Hi knitting2relax: Yes, the stress relief. I agree with you. I never thought of he benefits of creating things for others! Very interesting, thanks :smiley:

Knitting is taught as part of most European curriculum, did you know? There is a good reason for this as it helps develop hand-eye coordination and knitting seems to help with math concepts and you have to work with multiples of stitches to make patterns and it gives students a practical skill to make gifts for their families and friends. This bolsters self-esteem. Both boys and girls learn to knit. It is also worthy to be noted that boys in Europe do suffer less than in America from Autism. Knitting helps to build synapses and those synapses can then be used by the brain to do a lot of other things. The earlier children begin knitting seems to correlate to higher test scores. Knitting helps to calm the mind by releasing endorphins which help us to feel happy. Happy people don’t have the need of stimulants or drugs to help them through the day.

With all the side effects of drugs, each one seems worse than the next, staying drug free is better for us if we can do it. Knitting has been shown to help keep blood pressure lower.

Those who knit also are then better at typing skills or at playing instruments as the rhythm in knitting works well with playing the piano.

The outer portion of our brains are wired to what we do with our hands, so it isn’t peculiar at all that rehabilitating the hands is good also for the brain. As knitting is gentle on the joints, it is good for those who suffer from arthritis when what is provoking joint damage in the diet is identified and those foods are switches to those which don’t harm the joints. Not everyone has the same allergies of course. I had very bad arthritis and not just in my hands and fingers, and I did an elimination diet for one month, suspecting that I might have a sensitivity to milk, I was right. After one month off of dairy products, switching to plant based milks, I was able to return to knitting. But the rest of my joints like my knees and ankles, shoulders and back benefitted. One can think of many other things while knitting, such as listening to music or books on tape or taking advantage of browsers which read text to you for multitasking or listening to videos online.

I’ve learned other knitting styles as I was taught English and knew that it made my fingers hurt. My knitting looked good, it was just fatiguing doing the stitches like that before I was fully-recovered. I now have learned Continental and Continental Combined is a favorite of mine and knitting backwards. All in all, I know more about how the knit stitch and how to fix my mistakes, so it has overall improved my knitting altogether.

I am 64 so going through menopause, I feel that knitting helps me stay mentally sharper and when my brain feels confused, I knit all the more and think about what things I might be eating which could be improved so I can think better.

I am sure many of us find that knitting also helps us to keep our hands out of the refrigerator. Though I need to remind myself to get a glass of water and not a snack.

My doctor asked me why knit when it isn’t that yarn is so cheap anymore. I replied “Because of the humanity in it. We were designed to make things and whether we are cooking from scratch, making ceramics, or playing an instrument, the more we use our hands, the more fulfilled we are as people and the happier for it.”


Hi Sally: Wow, what a wealth of information here. I did not know some children were taught to knit as part of the curriculum and appreciate you taking the time to include all these benefits: so very interesting. I am especially interested in the link between handwork and cognitive function as I work with some individuals in recovery from brain injury as a speech pathologist, and have wanted to possibly explore the benefits of knitting with them. I am so glad you have found your way through the arthritis, and that it has been helpful to you through menopause as well. Thanks again! :grin:


I stuttered as a child because of a high fever I had from what we would call now “serum sickness”. My parents did not have me vaccinated as my sister had a reaction to one vaccine and not even sure what effected her. So when I fell when I was four and had to have some stiches on my chin, they gave me Horse Serum Anti-Toxin for Tetanus. During the day, I generally felt fine, but had raging fevers at night time. Our thermometers went to the top, is all my mother told me which meant to 106+ degrees. So I had brain damage from it which is likely why the stuttering began. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with me until my mother met another mother whose son was sick like me and learned that it was Serum Sickness. The doctors did have a shot for an antidote to stop the fevers. But this did not repair the damage to my brain which the high fevers had caused.

I am not retarded, but my body had damage to the hypothalamus which controls body temperature. My body thought I was always overheated and I’d be sweaty at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. So I stuttered and was made fun of not only for the stuttering but for the sweating which I could not help. Fortunately I met a wonderful man and have been married to him since I was 22. He found there was someone to love in me, when others could not see it. Being with him, I’ve calmed down a lot as the sweating was provoked by anxiety and after having children, the sweats were not as frequent due to hormone changes after pregnancy. Occasionally I still get them. I think from the fevers, it is possible that my brain has mild seizures and it provokes breaking out in sweat, I’ve also passed out sometimes from bad sweats but due to serious dehydration, which I recognize, I keep water with me and often something salty to eat. As the worst of menopause is over, (I hope), I am safe to drive again, though I prefer no to.

The emotional comfort I gain from knitting is an advantage to calm and center myself also. Post menopause means now I sweat at night so it isn’t as humiliating. I am not agoraphobic, but may as well be. I’ve had more reason to avoid the public than many people. I just consider every one I meet now, as they are my friend and don’t get nervous anymore over about anything. I have found how to live in the peace that passes understanding. And take my knitting with me wherever I go, okay, my crocheting on occasion.

Stuttering is hard to fix as if you hear yourself stuttering, it makes you nervous and the more nervous it makes you, the more you stutter. I did not stutter at home as I could knit. I did stutter in school. I found singing especially Christian hymns and finding God’s peace helped me recover. I have not stuttered since I was 18. But from 4 to 18 I stuttered. It took about a year to be fully in remission. So I know this is off-topic, but you may tell those you help in your work, about my story and that they should not give up hope.

So I admire what you do. I also have a slight lisp, from the way my teeth are formed so I am very clear to use good pronunciation and few find that I am hard to understand. This I learned from speech therapy and singing but speech therapy did not cure my stuttering. I found peace which no one can describe and know that I am loved now.

Whatever bolters the feeling of wellness, is good for people as a whole person. And that is rare to be treated like that, we are not a disease but a person who wants to be whole. I tell Kaiser, I am not a number, my name is “Sally”, what’s yours? No one finds that offensive and they do get what I mean.

No matter if a person lisps or stutters or has English as a second language, communication is important. Finding acceptance by others is a form of love.

I have found that when I recovered myself enough to speak fluently, I have told some people who are verbally cruel, that I suffered from stuttering, but never suffered from getting pleasure out of being cruel to others. That divides and harms people far more than if I get stuck on one word. I don’t tell anyone that anymore, as who am I to judge others? That I should have leftover frustrations, is human. I can’t help to make a difference when I have a chip on my shoulder.

At my age, sometimes I have to think twice to find a word which just escapes me for a moment, so I have mild aphasia, often due more to lack of sleep. My dad also stuttered but his case and mine were so different, his father was incredibly abusive. My parents were very loving people. I always took the time to listen to my dad and because of his knowing that I would be patient, his stuttering mostly disappeared in my company. I took care of my father in late life when he developed Alzheimer’s Disease. I was very attached to him. He was a very loving and kind person.

He loved Jesus and didn’t mind telling anyone. But he loved others just as much. I hope with the things I’ve learned about diet, to avoid Alzheimer’s but also by being as much of a human being as I can every day.

This may be off topic, but job one for each one of us, is to be a better human being and to be of help to others. Whatever motivates this positive behavior helps us all.

The human brain has tremendous capacity to rewire itself, if we find what works for us and don’t forget to participate in what activities help us so we stay well, then we will be well. So I knit daily and play the piano daily and try to help others also, daily.

Many blessings.


It definitely helps me calm down.

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I recently found a very interesting video from a fellow knitter who is also a psychology professor. It has some wonderful info about the link of any craft to mental health starting at about 12:13 in the video. She also has a product demo/review and talks about her upcoming projects and WIPs. It’s kind of a long video, but very good.


I started because of panic disorder/agoraphobia.


I took up knitting again after a serious accident left me disabled. I had to go from a very active person - horses, dog, active job - to having to be a lot more sedate, knitting keeps my brain and hands busy whilst not having to move too much otherwise.


I taught myself to knit last summer. It helps me to just focus on something else for a while (I’m working on my masters’s degree, work full time as a RN, part time with side jobs, grandmother to twins, etc). Sometimes I just get so focused on a task that isn’t working out, that I have to step away and focus on something else. What better way than to knit. I’ve crocheted since 3yrs old, and am now almost 50yrs old, and love the movement of knitting so much better, although when I make a mistake knitting, it’s so much more frustrating to fix :blush:. And my family loves the scarves, blankets, etc. And between all of that, I’m trying to make my first sweater. Slow going, but knitting isn’t a race!


I learned to knit two years ago, and I notice when I knit I do not feel depressed (I have depression), and it relieves stress if I am stressed out. The same is true when I do yoga (I do yoga regularly) and write poetry (which I love to write, but have not recently due to lack of inspiration). I also can concentrate better when knitting, and making things for someone else knowing that he or she will enjoy them makes me happy too.


When I first learned to knit, I did Continental because my knitting instructor tried to teach me the English style, but the way that she taught it was very complicated. Therefore, I found Continental easier to do. I have learned English since, but had to learn it from a video (I think it was a video on the Knitting Help website) and stop and go back a few times on it to truly learn it.

So I know what it is like to learn other knitting styles that are less complicated and easier to do. We have to follow what works for us.


So long as you benefit from it and are happy with your knitting, is what matters. A person may make better quality for different purposes. I was originally taught English method but my mother was not a thrower, she was a “Flicker” so I’ve never put my needle down and my English is a fast as when I knit Continental. But Continental is gentler tension on my fingers. My reverse stockinette with English Flicking was always even and smooth, I have found Continental Combined is as smooth but not regular Continental, but I know how to make the occasional stitches in Continental Western mount so that isn’t a short coming.

My dad died of Alzheimer’s disease. The easiest is not the best thing for me as everyone who lived long enough in his family succumbed to AD, which means it is likely hereditary… The harder is better as it retains my brain cells and at least if I am losing some, I want to be building others (synapses). Once it is no longer a challenge, I have to find that which is, whether it is knitting on double points whereas doing Magic Loop is great but not for all things.

I know what it is like to have taken care of my dad, and if I lose who I am striving only for what is easier, I have put a burden on my family I do not want to do. So my motivation is different from most people.

I also play the piano and compose as I go, in order to keep my brain working. Preventive maintenance.

What really put my father over the edge was grief for my brother, his only son, who committed suicide. I’ve had high fevers which damaged my brain but the brain is very plastic and is the organ most able to use what it is not using to remap skills to other parts, and generate new synapses.

In our current society, we tend to throw away the elderly, I only put my father in a nursing home because he had fallen on me and disabled my back, I could not even walk for a while after that and he was harder to take care of than a new born baby.

I am very stubborn, I don’t give up easily.

There is also another method of knitting called “Portuguese Knitting” in which the yarn goes around the back of the neck and the easier stitch is purling. It is especially good at Fair Isle for keeping floats from getting too tight. Other than that I do not prefer it. But I cycle through it so I do not forget how to do it.

I was forgetting how to add up a column of figures, since I’ve been taxing my brain, my math ability has returned. I had forgotten even the birth dates of my children, I can now remember them.

My path is difficult and I make it so because it keeps me able to function. And when I am not knitting forwards, I knit backwards and knitting backwards in Portuguese is hard to master. But it is far better than forgetting when I drive or forgetting when I close my garage door which now I can remember.

This may not work for all who have memory issues, but for now with the vitamins I take and the coconut products to help fight the plaques and tangles, it has given me a window of health.


I’m a RN who works long term care and love the residents. I did 15 years of ICU previously. I have found that, sadly, you are correct, our society doesn’t value our elderly. God bless you for the care you gave to your dad, the wisdom to know when you weren’t physically able anymore, and the tenacity to work on yourself to keep the synapses working


My dad was always an interesting person, and just because he didn’t have the education to stop him, he managed with his own insight. He played piano by ear, and though lessons didn’t work for me, I learned to play by ear too. I’d take my portable piano and not just play and sing for him, I did it for everyone, learning old hymns and old secular favorites. Music is something that people can sing when they cannot converse, the words of a well-loved Christmas carol can often be sung by all, including all four verses because of the brain works better when there is love and happiness in the room.

My dad lost his ability to speak, yet when I’d come and play the piano with him at first, he’d remember how to play, later that was lost. When he could no longer speak, my playing and singing, cleared away the cobwebs and he could talk to me once more. He is the one more responsible for my tenacity at caring, he never gave up on anyone. I lived an hour a way, and would visit twice a week if I could, at least once a week if things were busy, as I was also raising 3 kids under when he was in the Alzheimer’s facility. I through a birthday party once a month with a whipped cream iced cake from Costco because it was okay for diabetics. As Dad lost weight, his diabetes went away.

If I knew then about coconut oil and other activities for him and as I know now how to with vitamins, control my own blood pressure, I might have been able to keep him home. The blood pressure meds can have a bad influence on cognition, mix in Type II Diabetes with a side of medication for the heart and you have a good recipe to make an elderly person good and muddled. The more I can fix with food and supplements, the better. “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine, thy food.” Hippocrates got it right. And find something to find joy in and share the joy. At least if one gets AD, you can still have peace and the presence of God who with my dad, was always with him. He was like being in the presence of Jesus.

Some of the older people got combative, my dad didn’t and when he passed all of us cried, including the nursing staff. If I can be half the person my father was, I will see him again in heaven as I am sure that is where he is.


I agree with you. Where did you learn Portuguese knitting from?

Andrea Wong, she does have some videos on YouTube but in order to learn to do all pattern increases and decreases and cables and especially doing Fair Isle, I bought two of her DVDs except the one for socks available here:

I find using a knitting pin works best when I do it unless I am wearing a shirt with a collar. A safety pin with a clippy marker is what I use for a knitting pin: the safety pin does not damage my clothes as does the clippy marker but the clippy marker is convenient for attaching the yarn at least for now.

There are times due to how my hands are feeling that I do not get smooth reverse stockinette, and this method give me absolutely no rowing (well most of the time as it seems I am good at finding how not to do something).

Good luck. The basic technique however along with the cast on is on YouTube.


Thank you. I will give those a try at some point.

I think a great learning experience is doing Entrelac also. It is knitting on the diagonal and it ends up looking woven. It is wonderful with hand-dyed yarns. What I learned from doing that is to knit backwards. I have used knitting backwards now in so many things like socks, making a frame for knitting stitches make in 12" x12" blocks for doing short rows.

I seem to have a knack for dropping one or two stitches off the needle and then having to turn it all around to pick those up. When you knit backwards, it is easy to just pick them up without turning.

Bobbles are easier as well as buttonholes.

There are many versions of knitting backwards, it usually depends upon how you knit forwards.