Crafting my way to happiness

Alpha wave generator

Alpha wave generator

Regular readers of this blog will know that I dedicate quite a lot of time to craft projects – crochet, knitting and felting in particular, but I also do needlepoint, embroidery, paper-making, and more. Some of my creations are useful things (socks, gloves, bath puffs), but some are quite frivolous… the collection of knitted slugs probably have little practical use! However, there are more reasons for craft activities than just the finished item.

Knitting and crochet are portable and I take my projects with me to all sorts of situations. For example I often knit socks whilst travelling, attending courses and conferences, teaching  and when participating in meetings. I do often have to explain to people that my knitting does not mean that I’m not paying attention nor should they consider it disrespectful – it’s just something I do with my hands and that helps me to think. Don’t believe me? Well, I have been knitting for more than 35 years, so it does come quite naturally and  there is sound evidence showing that knitting is associated with the production of alpha waves by the brain. According to the Bicybernaut Institute

Alpha brain waves are seen in wakefulness where there is a relaxed and effortless alertness

Production of these brainwaves reduces stress and is associated with creativity. They are also linked to heightened imagination, visualisation, memory, learning and concentration. And knitting (along with other craft activities) encourages their production. The Circles website, for example, states that

The act of knitting has some inherent and intriguing qualities to it. It has been shown that when we knit, our brains produce the alpha waves of a relaxed meditative state… Clinical studies have found that the repetitive action of knitting creates a calming effect. Yes, more alpha waves than when meditating or doing yoga. Due to this, it is quite effective to use knitting as a mechanism for opening up to self-exploration, growth and healing. From simply adding knitting to a traditional therapy model of talking and processing with a guide, to knitting a specific project chosen or designed to evoke specific paths of exploration, knitting is one of the most relaxed and enjoyable, while highly effective, modes of growing your self-awareness that you can experience.

Last week I attended the latest in a series of meetings that have all been rather stressful. However, for the first time, I took some knitting with me and was delighted to find that I came away much less tense than usual and, along with the progress made in the meeting itself, with about a quarter of a sock more than when I started. I also didn’t feel the need for a large glass of wine as soon as I got home!

Alpha brainwaves are produced when we do all sorts of craft activities… things that are gentle and repetitive and that allow us to relax, thus freeing our minds. We can combine creativity with our hands with mental creativity. I have never been comfortable with sitting thinking about my breathing in order to relax and mediate, but give me some wool, water and soap and I will happily felt my way into a meditative state! So that’s what I’m off to do now, I have a felted peg bag to finish and some ideas about a chapter for a research handbook I’m writing to get sorted out in my mind, so excuse me whilst I go and get soapy… and thoughtful!

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12 Comments

  1. What you’ve said makes so much sense. If I haven’t had a chance to sit down and crochet during the day, even if it’s only 30 minutes, I’m a grumpy mess by 6pm. It’s when my best and most original thoughts come to me, so I don’t even have the tv or radio on any more, it’s too distracting.

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  2. fresh air? hmmmm that might be pushing it…. 🙂 (can’t crochet and walk at the same time)

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  3. I have always felt that knitting is like a form of meditation. Thank you for sharing this, it is very interesting. I love to knit. And I love your knit snails! I think they are great. As an active member of Slow Food, I affiliate with the symbol of the snail to lead a slower, more thoughtful life. Do you sell the knitted snails? Or did you say you give them away?

    Jo Ann

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    • I could not agree with you more about the meditative aspect of knitting.
      As for the snails (and other knitted creatures), I stopped giving them away when I started trying to earn part of my living from crafts earlier on this year!

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  4. Do you sell the snails? I would love to buy a few, to give to my Slow Food friends…

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