5 reasons why knitting a sweater can boost your resilience

Recently I finished knitting my first sweater.

It all started 2 years ago (those of you who have been here for a while, might remember…)
It started with crocheting 150 little red hearts for Christmas.
My second project was a scarf .
My third one was a bag for my mother and then it was time for more ‘serious stuff’…
From crocheting to knitting and … why not go for a sweater?

Luckily, I have ‘PAND ZESTIEN’ right around the corner.
It’s a place where Veerle sells beautiful yarn, and … where she passes on her passion for knitting (and being creative in general?).

When you buy the yarn, you can get started yourself or … you can pay something extra and have personalized help to bring your project to a good end: it means you can stop by as often as you want/need to, with any question you might have…
I went for the ‘something extra’ ;-D

Let’s go back to the combination ‘knitting a sweater’ and ‘boosting your resilience’. What are some of the factors I believe really contribute to boosting your resilience?

You create something beautiful from scratch.
The day after I finished it, I took my sweater out on a walk.
I couldn’t believe how warm and soft it was!
I am really proud of it. Already while I was knitting it, I enjoyed feeling the fabric in my hands.
When people are feeling stressed, they often start to think a bit negatively, sometimes even about themselves.
Creating something beautiful and feeling proud of yourself can help breaking that cycle and … boost your resilience.

Of course, this can also be applied to other things. Cooking a delicious dish, working with wood, finishing a DIY-project… All of these can have the same effect.

I had to deal with my perfectionism.
In a previous article I already talked about our ‘drivers’ (link article). And while ‘be perfect’ is not my strongest driver, I do admit that not having all the same stitches (as opposed to a store-bought sweater) did bother me a bit at the beginning.
But… there are several reasons for the ‘unevenness’: the specific characteristics of the yarn, the fact that I was using 3 strands at the time, … next to my…  lack of experience…
So I quite quickly decided that I would only start over when there was an actual mistake and not for every imperfect stitch… (and trust me, there were some mistakes…)
I even started to call my project ‘rustic’.
At first it was a little bit apologetically, but then it became more lovingly.
I admit that the ‘informal’ model of the current sweater might have made it a bit easier to accept the ‘flaws’. Let’s see if I can keep the same approach when I make something more ‘formal’…

Working on your drivers is key for boosting your resilience. Because they are often the reason why you overdo it…
More resources can be found in this article.

Knitting = repetitive movement
Many of us use repetitive, rhythmic movement like pacing, rocking, tapping… to calm our minds/ourselves when being stressed.
Knitting can have the same function.
More serotonin is released, and it can even reduce the blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Less stress = more resilience.

Learning something new
I had learned how to knit in primary school, I don’t remember if we still continued a bit in secondary school but… that was that. Also, now it was a different technique (=different needles).
But with the help of Veerle, I did it.
And sometimes I was knitting at home, something went wrong and … I tried and I tried until I found the solution. And when I did, there was this sense of accomplishment.

Studies show that learning something new helps us develop feelings of competence and self-efficacy. It also helps us to connect to an underlying purpose of growth and development. These psychological resources enable us to build resilience in the face of stressors.

During opening hours, you can go and sit at PAND ZESTIEN to work on your project.
You can even have a lovely coffee or tea, accompanied by a pastry.
There is some nice music in the background, you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, if you have a question you can ask, … precious me-time!
Once a week, however, there is the ‘Knitting cafe’: from 7 to 10 pm, (mostly) women join to knit together. For a small contribution, a drink is included.
At this moment, Veerle is not the ‘teacher’, everybody helps each other. There are very experienced people who knit/crochet a lot. They sometimes have several projects going on at the same time.
And there is this nice feeling of companionship. Again, no talking is needed, a lot is taking place. There is a lot of laughing but there is also room for serious conversations. People admire each other’s progress, they encourage each other. All of this to the sound of clicking needles.
Sometimes there are 4 of us, other times more than 20. But each time I leave with a smile on my face (and… I made progress on my project).

Having a social network reduces stress and increases resilience…


These are the 5 reasons why I believe knitting a sweater can boost your resilience.
And while I’m convinced it’s just 1 of the tools in the toolbox (also in my own), I’m currently having a lot of fun with it!

Have I inspired you?

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