Instead of talking about a stitch, or a technique, today I thought I'd talk about the benefits of crochet and knitting. Yes, I know, many have written about this in the past but I think I'll come at this from a slightly different view point... that of the person witnessing and living the changes on others and herself.
Last Friday was my knit/crochet group that meets at the local library. I started this group at the beginning of May of this year and each week I have new faces joining those who started back in May. One of those ladies who started back in May came to me with a printout of an article that her therapist gave her last time she visited her. The article comes from Stitchlinks, a website dedicated to collecting data of all types about the relationship between knitting and pain management. Her therapist told her that she has seen a marked change in her in the past two months and she thinks that it has a lot to do with her joining my group.
Many of the ladies who attend my group have health issues ranging from mild to severe. Many of these health issues involve pain which needs to be managed, either medically or through some other means if drugs are not their choice. I myself suffer from fibromyalgia and pain is something I live with daily.
The lady who gave me the article that sparked this blog post suffers from major pain due to an accident. The pain is severe enough that it affects her mental state, her concentration, and the accident itself has affected the muscles of her hands and arms. When she first began attending the group, she was quiet, apologetic for her lack of dexterity, and confidence was completely absent. With gentle words and guiding hands, I taught her how to do a long-tail cast on, and how to knit. Her first project was a short scarf for herself for this winter. It took 6 weeks to complete, but she could claim it as her own and the pride in her voice and on her face when she showed it off to the group was wonderful to see. Two months have gone by since that first day in May and she is now moving forward, picking her own projects, assessing her own skill level and she's finally realized what a difference learning to knit has made in her life.
She has found confidence, determination, a reason to go home every day, a reason to get up every morning. She finds that the level of pain goes down dramatically while she is knitting as well as for several hours later. She also finds that she is not nervous like she used to be, that she can relax much more easily and when things get tough at work, just thinking about knitting when she gets home keeps her going through the rough spots. As she pointed out one of the quotes on the article she handed me "I feel valid, not in-valid. Able not dis-abled." she told me quite confidently that is how she feels now and then she thanked me. I told her the person to thank was herself for coming to the group, for taking that very first step.
I've found over time that knitting and crocheting do the same things for me. The time I spend knitting/crocheting, my mind is free to sort through other things. As I concentrate on a stitch pattern, other parts of my brain are working on problems that I am trying to resolve. I find that I am calmer, happier, that the pain recedes far enough away to make it bearable most of the time. The pattern distracts my mind from the pain. Some days I have to work at it a bit harder, but most of the time, it works quite well and gets better with practice. These days I hardly touch my pain killers. I keep them for the days that nothing and I mean nothing else makes it recede. But those days are far and few apart thanks to knitting and crocheting.
As for the Stitchlinks site, I've gone through it and it is quite good. There is a lot of information about controlling pain through crafting, there is an active Forum that you can participate in and information on how to start your own therapeutic knitting group in your neighbourhood. Having a group of women and men who knit and crochet and talk together, sharing their lives, experiences, etc every week is an experience I never thought would be so beneficial to others but what surprised me even more, is how beneficial it has been for me as well. An experience well worth sharing with everyone out there!