This dreary and dreaded pandemic has inspired many people to take up new hobbies and interests. Idle bodies and restless minds have turned to craftsmanship to cope. Forms of yarn making, such as knitting and crocheting, have thus grown in popularity.
The accessibility of this time-consuming, low-energy, yet productive activity has made it the perfect way to pass the time for people who want to keep their hands moving and their minds free.
All you need is yarn, needles (or a hook) and scissors. Knitting and crochet are fairly simple to pick up after watching a YouTube video or two. After a bit of patience and practice, anyone can be able to produce a few stitches.
Sophomore Livi Mullenix recently took it up after her brother encouraged her to, sparking her interest in the hobby. She even asked her friends to pick it up with her as she thinks it’s a great hobby to have when she just wants to hang out with her friends, chat and enjoy each other’s company. “My tolerance for high-energy activities is really low,” she says.
Knitting, crocheting and other textile crafts aren’t just a way to pass the time quietly. They are also a therapeutic creative outlet. Once you are proficient in reading patterns and understand part construction, you can develop and customize patterns of your own design.
Free patterns can be found on websites like Ravelry, Lovecrafts, Yarnspirations, Vogue Knitting, and even on mainstream social media where people share and sell their unique creations. Essentially, you will be able to create your own wearable art. The potential is endless.
The therapeutic aspect of yarn making comes from the repetitive motion, as it releases serotonin and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. The movement allows you to focus on the action of your hands and distract you from your anxieties. For some, it also seems to produce a meditative effect, allowing people to reflect on their stress and make their own personal breakthroughs.
Throughout history, knitting pieces yourself has been a way to demonstrate resilience and resistance. During the Great Depression, people knitted out of necessity because it was cheaper to knit yourself than to buy from a store. Today, not only is it cheaper to knit your own clothes and accessories, but it is also more environmentally friendly than buying knitted products in stores. By knitting yourself, you refrain from contributing to the ecological damage created by industrial textile sweatshops.
The textile arts also played an important role in the second wave feminism of the 1970s. Women deliberately reclaimed the craft and demanded that it be recognized as an art form. Textile craftsmanship has long been associated with housewives and elderly women. Spinning has been feminized, prohibiting men from participating in craftsmanship without threatening their masculinity. What society has forgotten is that men dominated this craft, knitting fishing nets so they could catch more fish. Eventually, they applied the same knitting technique to wearable yarns, allowing them to knit handmade sweaters. Today, the ageism and sexual stigma associated with knitting is dissolving, making it more acceptable for everyone to participate.
The next time you find yourself with some free time and want to have some kind of fun hobby, consider yarn work, because you might enjoy the rewarding feeling of finishing a knit piece with your own hands.