Study Explores The Mental Benefits of Knitting

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It has long been claimed that knitting and crochet are beneficial to mental and physical health. Knitting materials and crochet equipment suppliers have recently researched the subject using various studies to put this theory to the test. The full results of this research can be found on Knitting and mental health - the truth about crafting

Keeping the mind engaged with hobbies like word or number puzzles, knitting, crochet, or reading improves cognitive function and keeps the brain young and agile.

“Many of us heard the claims that knitting and crochet are good for mental health. Our customers have told us their stories, and we have some of our own here at Laughing Hens.” Says Peter OKell, Managing Director of Laughing Hens, But to find out if rumour was based on solid research into the subject, we decided to dig deep into peer-reviewed studies surrounding the issue and use this as the basis for some independent research supported by our direct experience in the knitting industry.”

Regardless of the many studies on the subject of knitting and mental health, knitting and crochet is an important craft especially as we as a global society think more about how fast fashion damages the environment.

Organizer for Perth Festival of Yarn in Perth, Scotland, Eva Christie is an important part of the fabric of the knitting and crochet community. She liaises with designers, spinners, weavers, and dyers, as well as with the visitors to the yarn show that attend every year, and has heard stories of how knitting and crochet saved their lives, giving them something to focus on and distract them from mental or physical pain.

With a strong focus on community, the yarn show encourages visitors to sit and chat, make new friends and catch up with old ones. As it turns out, that is one of the most important benefits, especially for older crafters according to

In a 2013 study, researchers found an alarming link between social isolation and rapid health decline in older members of society. (Source: ‘Social Isolation, loneliness and all-cause mortality in older men and women’, PNAS 2013)

The study reveals that while loneliness itself is not a root cause for health decline, isolation is a strong indicator that someone is not receiving the level of care they should, whether from food, medical care and medications, or practicing suggested habits as recommended by their doctors.

Older people with a network of friends and hobbyist groups didn't show the same rapid health decline as those who were socially isolated. As such, knitting and crochet groups can be a huge lifeline for people across all age groups, providing the social interaction and bonding we all need and crave (Source:, 2013).

“Many of us feel like that 20 minutes knitting in the quiet, or listening to peaceful music as we pass stitches over needles and hooks, can feel as restorative as a long nap,” added Okell.”

A 2013 study ‘The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood: Findings from an International Survey’ (Source:, 2015) focused on the benefits of knitting as an adult supports the view that knitting can be an ideal way to relax and unwind.

Another study went further and found that nearly every participant reported significantly reduced stress even when knitting alone, though participation in local groups also had a large impact on reducing depression and anxiety. The 2011 study ‘Engaging in Cognitive Activities, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study’ (Source:, 2011) proved that engaging in cognitive activities like knitting and crochet reduced cognitive impairment among adults.

Studies like the ones highlighted continue to prove that keeping the mind engaged with hobbies like word or number puzzles, knitting, crochet, or reading improves cognitive function and keeps the brain young and agile.

In addition to mental health benefits, studies like this; ‘Use of Creative Arts as a Complementary Therapy by Rural Women Coping With Chronic Illness’ (Source:, 2011), are digging into the possibility that knitting and crochet, along with other arts and crafts, can also have measurable physical health benefits too.

People who suffer from long term chronic pain took part in this study to measure the effectiveness of craft on their mindset and ability to deal with their conditions. The participants reported reduced pain as a result of these arts and crafts activities, as well as an overall improvement to their health and wellbeing.

According to, there are further studies in the pipeline to examine these findings, and to further investigate the possibility of using crafts like knitting and crochet as part of a holistic approach to mental health, and physical health as well.

This qualitative study ‘Exploring the Effects of Knitting on the Experience of Chronic Pain’ (Source:, 2009) also took a deep dive into measuring this phenomenon, but specifically with knitting, and the results were conclusive. Taking part in knitting, either as a solitary hobby, or in a group setting, reduced chronic pains and stresses, and contributed to an overall improvement in the participants' mental and physical health. One participant said, "Knitting requires me to think creatively, plan, prepare, organise, coordinate, and control just one small aspect of my life. Then other changes are manageable."

Commenting on the findings of their research into the mental health benefits of knitting Okell said; “ We knew all about the benefits of taking up knitting as a hobby but we never expected to find this much research that overwhelmingly supports the commonly held belief that knitting and crochet improve mental and physical health across all ages and even those with specific needs like chronic pain and addiction.

According to, it's safe to say that knitting and crochet will benefit your mental health, and possibly even your physical health too.

The guide 'Knitting and Mental Health – The Truth About Crafting' can be found on their website here

Notes to the editor: is a leading supplier of knitting and crochet materials and equipment. Their aim is to inspire customers to create beautiful garments and accessories using high quality natural fibre yarns. You can find wools, yarns, patterns and accessories from all of your favourite brand names on as well as independent designers.
For more information, supporting pictures or logo artwork, please contact Peter Okell

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Knitting and mental health