For the past few weeks, I haven’t felt like knitting.  Until . . .

Earlier this week I sat up most of the night with a sick family member.

And after about an hour, I felt an urge to start a pair of socks.  I decided to use the pattern that came with the yarn.

Well, the way I knit, I’ll start with it as a template! Usually I tweak knitting patterns as I go . . .

So I dutifully knit a swatch for the gauge.  And as happens sometimes, the swatch didn’t match the section I cast on and began knitting.  In full disclosure, I did use a different cast-on stitch.  😳

The looser cast-on made the entire fabric looser—and larger.  After two rows, I saw my error and decided to start over.

That’s one of the great things about knitting.  You can stop . . .pull out your stitches . . .often reusing the same yarn and no one well ever know.

Well, that is unless you blog about it to the world!  😉

The second cast-on is a success . . .

When do knitting patterns reduce stress?

Because I knit loosely most knitting patterns suggest needles leading to fewer stitches per inch than suggested.  So the knitted article would be larger than desiredThe solution is using smaller needles.  In this case I’m using size 1 needles instead of the suggested size 3.

The self-striping yarn looks like it will actually self-stripe this time!  Sometimes following knitting patterns included with yarn lead to a more variegated than striped effect.  The socks are just as warm and still wearable.

Isn’t it amazing how often people turn to comforting crafts like knitting in times of stress?

Like . . .

  1. In wartime. Women traditionally send knitted caps, socks, and other clothing to the military in wartime.  Especially for their loved ones. Knitting patterns from World Wars I and II are still used by knitters today.
  2. In caregiving. When you’re under caregiver stress, knitting can be a great way to relieve it.  And it’s often portable, so can go with you as you wait. Whether you’re in a waiting room, at the bedside in a hospital, or even at home your knitting can often travel with you.
  3. In many other kinds of stress. Whether it’s the stress of a long day at work, or concern about a sick child or maybe it’s world events seemingly spiraling out of control . . .there are many excuses reasons to pick up your knitting needles.

For some knitters, using knitting patterns that are familiar is comforting. And others like the challenge of focusing on new patterns (at least to them) when stressed. Then there are knitters who just like to knit when stressed — whether new or familiar knitting patterns.

Even medical research now recognizes knitting as one of the activities that elicit the “Relaxation Response.”

The rhythmic movements of knitting followed by concentrating on the knitting stitches displace stressful thoughts. And after about 20 minutes, your blood pressure is lower, your heart rate slows, your breathing slows and even your metabolism slows down.

One reporter writing on this phenomenon suggested it was the clicking of the needles that elicited the response because repetitive sounds like a phrase prayer can also elicit the relaxation response.

Sounds like a non-knitter.  Why?  Well for one thing knitters who are deaf wouldn’t hear the clicks.  And secondly not all needles and yarn produce an audible click.

Another side benefit of knitting or doing similar activities to relieve stress is having both an activity that reduces your body’s reaction to stress and a completed project!  Multitasking at its finest.

When you’re feeling overloaded that even your knitting isn’t helping do you . . .?

  • Take a break?
  • Reassess your priorities and your “To Do List”?
  • Push on through because you feel you have no choice?

Everyone’s reactions to stress are different.  And if your reaction is reducing and relieving your stress, that’s great!  If not, sometimes the solution is easier than you think . . .

Click on this link for more information about three simple mistakes to avoid when eliminating stress.

Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,

Dr. Ina

Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)

“The Knitting Dr.”

Ambassador of Elder Care,

Founder, and



The information on this website is for educational purposes only.  It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider.  This site does not advocate medical or other health-related self-care, and encourages you to obtain advice from your own personal physician or other health care provider.

This web site is not intended to replace medical, financial, legal, or any other professional advice.  Please use your own good judgment and consult with your own professionals before applying any ideas found within this website.



Google+ Comments