As the temperatures start dropping, we’re not trying to waste any time sans protective layers. Naturally, that means whipping out the knitwear. From sweaters to scarves to mittens and hats, there are plenty of knit staples that we need in our arsenal come winter. But while most of us stock that arsenal with store-bought knits, there are a select few – the confidently crafty among us – who opt for something a little different: knitting their knitwear themselves. Overly ambitious? Maybe, but it might also relieve stress make for some seriously impressive brain benefits along the way.
One of the benefits of knitting is that it can be a welcome break for a busy brain (that’s why a lot of people take up knitting as a means of stress relief), but that’s not to say that your mind isn’t hard at work when you’re knitting. The reason that knitting can feel relaxing is that it calls for your mind to remain focused on the task at hand –– the knitting and the purling –– which allows it to take a break from overthinking everything else. That said, while you’re knitting, your brain is definitely still actively working, just in a different way; it’s working to remember where you last left off when you pick up your project again, counting how many rows you have left before you switch to the next knit style in your pattern or finish off your project, etc.
As knitting becomes more comfortable for you, though, the thinking involved becomes more subconscious. So though the activity may feel increasingly mindless and habitual over time, the reality is that your brain is consistently working to keep your project moving along. In fact, one study in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences found that, between the math and memory involved in knitting, the crafty activity can actually reduce chances of mild cognitive impairment by up to 50 percent over time.
Another study published in Experimental Gerontology found that knitting’s positive impact on cognition and brain plasticity could make the activity effective in boosting the brain’s processing speed and its ability to learn new information.
So, if you’re feeling a little off of your brain game as of late, you might want to consider stocking up on some yarn and checking out a knitting tutorial or two –– it could make all the difference.