Ashlee Lackovic of the Smashlee Stitches blog talks about knitting as a mental health activity, and how the art of yarn crafting changed her life for the better.
Can knitting change your life?
Seven and half years ago I learned to knit. It was anything but calm and comforting. Equipped with very long knitting needles and bright pink wool , I attempted to cast on and instantly felt overwhelmed. Knitting was not something I was naturally good at. I was constantly dropping my needles and my stitches. When I did have my needles and wool in my hands, I was so awkward and clumsy. The whole concept of knitting made my head hurt. I cried, I got mad, I yelled, I threw my yarn down and I gave up. I was not meant to be a knitter.
Thank goodness, I felt compelled to start again. There’s something about seeing pretty yarn on the floor that made me pick it back up and try one last time. Three weeks later I was knitting my firstl proper stitches. I learned to knit and then purl. I knit a scarf and then another scarf, and then a hat. They weren’t pretty but, I had made them. Something about that was addicting and oddly calming.
Slowly but, surely I found knitting creeping into so many aspects of my life. Instead of spending a lazy Sunday curled up on the sofa watching a film, I was now watching that film and knitting.
Being a passenger on a long road trip now meant endless hours of knitting. Baby showers meant little booties and hats. Wedding gifts meant blankets and don’t even get me started on Christmas presents.
As my skills in knitting grew so, did my confidence. I now could knit almost anything I wanted but, more importantly, the shy, clumsy and socially awkward girl who couldn’t cast on was fading away. I was becoming someone completely different and I liked it. The knitting in my lap was an excellent conversation starter. Almost everyone knew someone who could knit or they knit themselves. Making friends was becoming less of an effort. The community that came from sharing my craft was something I had never experienced before.
There are other benefits I noticed from this growing obsession. Boredom was no longer a thing. Since my knitting was always stashed in my bag I could work on my project at pretty much anytime. Stuck in traffic, waiting at the doctor's office, or in a long queue. All of these situations could be enhanced by knitting. I almost wanted the wait to be longer so I could finish the ribbing on the hat I was making. I became the calmest one in the room; just casually knitting away quietly.
Knitting can also heal. When life would get tough it became my coping mechanism and a way to sort out my feelings. It didn’t matter what I was dealing with. The simple act of creating stitches helped me overcome even the worse feelings. By keeping my hands and my mind busy I became calmer and I was able to see most situations for what they really were. Sometimes it would only fake a few minutes but, some cases required a pair of slippers, a sweater, and even a blanket to get to a good place again. I have knit through anxiety and panic attacks. I have knit while rocking a newborn to sleep at 3 am and through the loss of my Grandfather. The key is to keep going. My heart has always found a way to heal through my stitches.
Knitting has done so much for me. I found my passion through knitting, I found a way to connect with people and I found something that makes my soul happy. I learned so much more than how to make a scarf. I have become a calmer, more outgoing, confident person who can knit with her eyes closed. That’s not bad for a girl who constantly dropped her needles on the floor. If can do it, anyone can! My only advice is to keep calm and knit on. You never know what will happen because of it!
Ashlee Lackovic is a blogger and pattern designer from the snowy mountains of British Columbia, Canada. She runs her own knitting website called Smashlee Stitches where she shares her love of all things knitting with the world. Click here to visit her Smashlee Stitches blog, and follow her on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Photography credit: Joy Segovia