Knitting Therapy? More Americans Learning to Knit for Stress Relief

Knitting Therapy? More Americans Learning to Knit for Stress Relief

In conference rooms across the country, stressed-out workers are discovering the relaxing power of knitting.

The Wall Street Journal recently sat in on a team-building exercise at Google. In it, Sophie Thimonnier, whose company Heartknit offers “mindful knitting” workshops, instructed the group of sales professionals to turn off their phones and learn how to knit

“Are we being hypnotized?” one woman asked, marveling at the hush that had befallen the room as her coworkers focused on their hand movements.

While people used to knit to create things, whether it be a pair of socks or a blanket, today, knitting experts are pushing it as a meditative process—a way to keep phones out of hands and minds busy but at peace. As a form of meditation. “Medknitation,” if you will.

When Alberto Bravo Reyes co-founded knitting-and-crochet supply company We Are Knitters in 2011, he was surprised to learn that people weren’t looking for fast projects. “We very quickly realized that what people really wanted were hours of knitting,” Bravo Reyes told The Wall Street Journal. “They don’t knit just to wear the piece, mostly they just like to knit.”

The trade group Craft Yarn Council estimates that 38 million people knit or crochet in the U.S. A recent survey found that 94% knit or crochet simply as a form of “self-care.”

“People are using this for relaxation and don’t necessarily have the end-product in mind,” Jenny Bessonette, the group’s executive director, told the paper. The Craft Yarn Council has been promoting its “Stitch Away Stress” campaign since 2014.

Research has shown that knitting could reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, distract from chronic pain, and increase overall sense of wellbeing. One study found that the act of knitting lowers heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute, signifying a sizeable increase in relaxation.

WATCH: The Countless Ways Knitting Can Improve Your Health and Happiness

Romain Jouffre, a chief executive who hired Thimonnier to lead a workshop at his company last year, told The Wall Street Journal that he’s now hooked on knitting, and devotes up to an hour most nights to his craft. He said the habit has made him a “better listener at work and calmer at home.”

Learning how to knit can be stressful at first, but as Thimonnier told her class at Google, it’s worth it in the end. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. “There’s not a right or wrong way to knit, just try to find your rhythm,” Thimonnier said.