Thursday, 18 December 2008

What a 'Knit'!



Click, clack, click, clack…a familiar sound to those who knit I’m sure. But did you know that for many people who suffer from frequent or continual chronic pain the rhythmic action of knitting can take their minds off their pain, thus enabling them to relax and face their lives with a more positive outlook?
Of course, there may be many of us who have developed a hobby out of knitting, crocheting or cross-stitch who would readily say this is nothing new and that, for them the very action of sitting down, taking up your knitting or stitching has always given them the relaxation they need.
It’s not often in life that you come across someone who you know is a visionary. You just sense from their energetic outlook on life that their vision just makes such pure and utter sense it is almost palpable.
I came across one such person just this week – Betsan Corkhill , a volunteer who, when just 18 months ago, set up a knitting/stitching group to groups of patients suffering with chronic pain had no idea just how beneficial this age-old hobby would be.
Very soon Betsan was receiving enormous amounts of emails and letters extolling the health benefits of cross-stitching and knitting, saying they helped alleviate depression and even allowed patients to reduce pain medication. Feeling inspired, she began to research the therapeutic effects of knitting and stitching, and as well as starting up a knitting group in Bath, Somerset, Betsan launched http://www.stitchlinks.com/, where support, information and friendship are as important as the stitches.
People with long-term pain can easily become isolated and depressed. Being part of a knitting group makes them feel they have a place in the world. Betsan and other experts are certain that the action of knitting has a neurochemical effect on the brain. An expert who assists Betsan says, ‘It changes brain chemistry for the better, possibly by decreasing stress hormones and increasing feel-good serotonin and dopamine. One day we’ll be able to explain the pathways but, meanwhile, it’s a cheap and accessible intervention that functions as an incredibly effective, informal pain management solution. I’m sure knitting/stitching groups would make a huge difference to millions’.

Wow! This such exciting work Betsan – you are a star and I’m sure we all join you in very much hoping that this research project gets underway very soon.
For more information on knitting/stitching – plus bucket loads of fabulous ‘feel-good’ tips visit Betsan’s website at http://www.stitchlinks.com/ . I know Betsan would love to hear your stories of how you find stitching/knitting/cross-stitching benefits your lives. Do you find it helps you to relax and switch off? Do you feel in a far more positive frame of mind for having done some stitching? Do you feel energised when you stitch? – do pay her website a visit and complete one of her questionnaires. As well as picking up lots of tips from her site, you may well be contributing to some fantastic future research.

I am sure I am not alone in wishing Betsan all the very best for her project, it is so very exciting.
Currently a ‘non-knitter’ I am tempted to send off for a Knitter’s Starter Pack from Betsan’s web shop. I feel sure that the patients I work with at my local hospice could benefit so much from this age old hobby that maybe we hadn’t realised could be so very beneficial.

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6 comments:

dani said...

hi, molly:)
i didn't know this about knitting/stitching; but, you know, it really makes sense... as it occupies time and definitely gives a sense of accomplishment.
i've never knitted, either. however, my brother bought me a beginner's kit for my birthday (i'd voiced that i'd like to pick up the hobby), great brother!!! i think after Christmas, i'm going to go on a diet and get out my yarn and kit.
thank you for sharing:D
love,
dani

Molly's Mellow Moments said...

Thanks Dani - I know what you mean, it came as a surprise to me too, but then when you think about it it is such an age old hobby that so many people enjoy, there must be something in it.
What a great bro! Yes, indeed, we will have to get started..somehow I don't think I shall have the patience for it (or sit still long enough to be honest!) - but who knows?!
Take care
Molly x

Betsan said...

Hi Molly

Hello from Betsan of Stitchlinks. Thank you for your wonderful words. Knitting as therapy is a very exciting prospect, not just for pain but for conditions such as depression and stress too. I now have experts from five major UK universities involved in this project and we're currently looking for funding for the warm up phase which will gather data for a much larger multi-level project which will study everything from physiological changes right through to the psychological and social. So it's very exciting. You can keep in touch through our free Stitchlinks newsletters if you wish. Thank you again.
Take care.
Betsan
x

Molly's Mellow Moments said...

Hi Betsan
Thanks for your lovely comment. Your project sounds so incredibly interesting - what an exciting time ahead!
I was so impressed with your nice chatty, informative newsletter I signed up for - it would be great if more of us signed up for it to get up to date news, not only about stitching but how the research is going.
Perhaps I could encourage anyone reading this post who knows someone who would be interested in hearing more to email this article to them?
We look forward to hearing more of your work as more research unfolds Betsan - all the very best from us all here on Molly's Mellow Moments!
-Molly x

kay susan said...

Hello Molly, thanks for the visit and the link. I've 'flogged this post on my blog'. People interested in the therapeutic nature of stitch may interested to read about the 'Comfort Doll Project', an illustration of the therapeutic nature of the results!
http://www.comfortdolls.blogspot.com/

Molly's Mellow Moments said...

Thank you so much Kay Susan for your kind words, and of course 'flogging' my blog - how kind!
Your dolls are just fabulous - and l'm sure I can't be the only one who breaks into a smile when I see one - their faces are just so gorgeous, and somehow you can 'see' someone you know...do you see what I mean, or am I talking nonsense (again!)?
Indeed, the 'Comfort Doll' Project in America for victims of domestic abuse sounds an amazing form of therapy. It's not something (thank heavens) that I have ever encountered and therefore, sort of 'out of my sphere' , and has really opened my eyes - this sounds such a wonderful project. I intend to keep up to date with it's progress, so thanks for that.
All best
Molly