For the final week in this series, we’re going to talk about knitting.
Not many people know this, but I’ve been knitting since I was nine years old, and it’s been instrumental in helping me to cope with my anxiety disorder.
When I was nine, I approached my mom and told her that I wanted to learn how to knit. She knew the basics because one of her older sisters taught her the basics when she was young, but she didn’t know how to do the fancy stitches. Still, she agreed to teach me.
A few weeks later, we were at Target when we came across a steal; they were selling knitting needles and yarn for a dollar! Normally, when you go to a craft store, you can easily spend $15-$20 on yarn and a good quality pair of needles.
My mom let me pick out a pair of needles and yarn, and I was thrilled!
In the weeks following, she and I would sit together, and she would teach me what she knew. She printed off some instructions online to jog her memory, and then she would teach me the basics: how to make a knit stitch and purl stitch, how to cast on, and how to cast off the final product.
Once she showed me the basics, I fell in love with knitting, and I wanted more! I spent hours online looking at patterns and tutorials in an effort to teach myself new skills. It took a lot of hard work, and I made a lot of misshapen, hole-ridden projects before I got any good. In fact, it took me three years or so before my stitches consistently came out evenly.
Soon enough, I could knit tons of things: hats, scarves, blankets, mittens, shawls, teddy bears, sweaters, and dolls. In fact, on more than one occasion, I have been referred to as a “knitting machine.”
Here’s one of my most recent projects. It’s a lace shawl that I completed last Christmas, and it’s the most complex project I’ve ever completed.
Here are the ways that knitting helps my anxiety:
- It gives me something to do. It distracts me from whatever’s making me anxious, and it keeps me from thinking too much.
- It helps me boost my confidence. When I finish a project, it helps me to feel more confident, especially if it’s a complicated project.
- It’s something I can be proud of. It’s fun to show off my latest project to other people, especially if they don’t knit. Non-knitters, in my experience, tend to be more impressed with these projects. Sometimes, when you have an anxiety disorder, it’s hard to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments.
- It makes for a good conversation starter. I wore the shawl in the picture above to a church dance at the end of my spring semester. Someone gave me a compliment, I told her that I knitted it, and we ended up talking for 20 minutes! When you have an anxiety disorder, it can be hard to be social. Having a conversation piece, like a finished project, can help you overcome your shyness and anxiety in social situations.
With all of this in mind, here are my tips for how to get started knitting:
- Find someone to teach you. If you don’t know anyone who can knit, find a class at your local craft store. When you’re picking up a new skill, it’s best to have an in-person teacher. That way, they can help you troubleshoot if you run into problems.
- Start off small. Try knitting a coaster or a scarf first. This will help you to solidify the basics. You need to have the basics down before you attempt a complicated project.
- Look for ways to save money on supplies. Especially if you’re just starting out, don’t spend tons of money on supplies. Buy supplies on sale or use a coupon. That’s how I keep the supplies in my budget.
- Practice every day. The only way to improve consistently is if you practice consistently. Even a few minutes a day is better than nothing.
- Be patient. Learning any new skill is hard the first few times. It will get easier the longer you do it. In fact, I’ve been knitting for so long that I can do knit without looking at my work.
- Take breaks. If you’re getting too frustrated, stop and take a break. Come back to the project later. Knitting should be fun; don’t let it turn into a chore.
Knitting can seem like a complicated hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. It might be hard at first, but you can do it!
Thank you so much for joining me for my How I Cope series!
Do you enjoy arts and crafts projects? Let me know which types of crafts you enjoy in the comments below.