Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sit and Knit

The yarn bounty
After 25 years of knitting and crocheting, I am still amazed at what a ball of yarn can do. For just a couple of dollars per skein you have a material that can be made into a scarf, a bag, a necklace, a hat, a sweater, or even a blanket big enough for two. You can create a gift for a loved one or a treat for yourself.

What is even more amazing is the way that I feel while creating a project with yarn. I find the simple act of knitting or crocheting soothing and there have been recent studies that show these activities can have positive effects, like lower levels of depression, a decrease in blood pressure, and a decrease in pain and memory loss.

On a recent visit to the Santa Rosa branch of the Pima County Public Library I was thrilled to take part in their Sit and Knit program. The program is designed for children and provides a fun, creative, and soothing activity for many children after school.

At the beginning of the class, children streamed in after their early release day from the nearby Drachman Montessori Magnet School. The children were restless and loud and vying for attention from the knitting instructors, Diane Senders and Cathy Dingell. After the harried moments of signing in, selecting their yarn, and grabbing their needles an amazing thing happened: the children all settled down and focused on their projects.

Diane Senders helps a student with her knitting

The transformation was quite remarkable. The children listened attentively, asked for help, and concentrated on their work. Diane and Cathy helped the newer students get started, but many that were already old pros with the needles just sat down and started knitting. One 4th grade girl that I approached was calmly and steadily working on a multi-colored hat. My attempts at engaging her in conversation were met with polite, simple replies while all her concentration was focused on her project.

It turns out that the repetitive actions needed for knitting and crochet can bring the mind and body to a state called a "relaxation response" that is quite similar to what people experience with techniques such as repetitive prayer, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and other relaxation disciplines.
These results can have significant health benefits for people who knit and crochet.

But all that research doesn’t really mean much to the kids, they just know that they love to knit. Each student starts with a small project that they can complete quickly, such as a wristband, which provides an immediate sense of accomplishment. The kids also take pride in helping newcomers to the club.

All the kids were anxious to show off their work, wanting to tell me why they chose the colors, what they were making, and for whom they were making the item. I asked them all why they like to come in and knit. One student, Sunday, said “Because it’s easy.” Another student, Hope, said she liked the teachers. Indeed the skill and the patience of Diane and Cathy did make the whole thing look easy.

Written by Samantha Barry


emily said...

So glad to see "Sit and Knit" still going strong! Thank you Cathy and Diane- I miss seeing you and all the knitters! EM

Samantha said...

There are amazing teachers and the kids love the class.

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