Seven benefits of knitting

Adrienne Wyper / 11 February 2017

Clicking away with a pair of needles and some yarn has benefits that go well beyond something new to wear. Find out about the health and social benefits of knitting.



Knitting is good for the brain

The concentration required to follow a pattern and keep track of which yarn (or even which needles) we’re using, calculating how much yarn is needed, adding up stitches and rows, plus learning new skills as we master new stitches and new patterns… all this has been shown to help stave off mild cognitive impairment, the decline in the power of perception: thinking, reasoning and remembering. 

International research involving over 3,000 knitters showed that the more often people knitted, the better their cognitive function.

And knitting benefits both sides of the brain: right for creativity, left for logic and maths.

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Knitting is sociable

It can be, if you combine knitting with seeing friends. And that’s easily done as knitting is portable, so you can take it with you for afternoon tea, pints in the pub, or to pass the time while travelling (not on planes, though). 

And, of course, you can join (or start) a knitting group, often known as a ‘stitch and bitch’, to chat while you knit, share your work and pick up tips. 

Then there are visits to yarn shops and crafting shows. Whether you go alone or with friends, browsing yarn, kit, or being inspired by someone else’s work can be a real conversation starter.

And then there’s virtual sociability via social media. Following expert knitters and designers, seeing friends’ latest works in progress and showing your own soon make you feel part of an online community.

Find out how to knit for charity

Knitting keeps you calm

As the twist on a (now overworked) meme has it: ‘keep calm and carry yarn’. And like all good memes, it carries a relatable truth. 

The rhythmic, repeated actions of moving the yarn and the needles and the concentration required to do it right quiet the chatter in your mind. And the more you do it, the better you feel. 

The international research that showed a link between knitting and brain power also revealed a significant relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm.

According to the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, the repetition of the movements of knitting can elicit the ‘relaxation response’, corresponding to a lowering of breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure.

Knitting is a cheap hobby

Granted, you’ll find some extortionately priced yarns in your local haberdashery shop (if you’re lucky enough to have one), but not everything needs to be made of cashmere. 

You can pick up a ball of yarn for a couple of pounds, and needles for less.

Knitting can be a gift

Apart from giving someone something you’ve knitted for them, you can also pass on your knowledge. 

Teaching someone to knit face-to-face is the best way to learn and showing a friend, child or grandchild how to knit is great fun, and sets them up with a rewarding hobby for life.

Try one of these free baby knitting patterns

Knitting widens your wardrobe

Not only can you make things to wear, but you can take on the role of fashion designer, because how these garments (or home makes) turn out is under your control. 

Like the cut but not the colour? Knit it in your favourite. And sometimes you simply don’t need a pattern, like with a scarf. Just cast on, with whatever wool you want, and keep going until you decide it’s done.

Knitting boosts your self-esteem

Mastering techniques, following a pattern or instructions, and completing a project, and making something that didn’t exist before should make you feel proud of yourself.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.