Positive Thinking Through Stitchery: An Article Round-Up

September 13th of every year is Positive Thinking Day. Today of all days, don’t let negative thoughts drag you down, strive to break free of stress, and take care of your mind by exercising and resting it adequately. What does Positive Thinking Day have to do with crafts? It turns out, rather a lot!

The mental health benefits of knitting and crochet are well-documented. Both crafts are a great way to keep the mind active and challenged. Both crafts foster a meditative flow state that can block negative thoughts. In most cases, both crafts also make us really, really happy with the process and our finished objects.

But for beginners, those stitching to a deadline, or someone who has just discovered a massive mistake ten rows back, crafts can become the source of, rather than the antidote to, negative thoughts. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much there still is left to learn, or how much there is left to stitch.

To help keep things positive and in perspective when stitching, and to remind you of the very real mental health benefits of these crafts, here are a few of my favorite articles we’ve published around the theme of mental health and stress.

Learn about the value of being a beginning knitter in this essay from Alanna Okun

1. In Praise of Learning: The Value of First Stitches by Alanna Okun

This original essay, written by <em>The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater</em> author Alanna Okun discusses the challenges of learning something new as a beginner. It’s easy to get bogged down in negativity when things don’t go right at first, but Alanna challenges you to cherish and value your beginner status.

“The older we get, the less comfortable we are with being bad at things. We’ve been conditioned, throughout school and work and just generally moving through the world, to focus on our talents, and to let them define us.”

 
Knitting is much more conducive to positive thinking than staring at your phone!

2. Put Down Your Phone and Pick Up Your Knitting by Lisa Shroyer

This well-researched essay paints a stark contrast between one of our “fastest” hobbies and one of our “slowest” ones: cell phones and knitting, respectively. She makes a compelling case for trading in some phone time for some knitting time each day.

“Knitting offers me a mental escape from adulting, with all its anxiety-inducing pressures. It’s like I get to be a kid again for an hour, on the floor of my childhood bedroom, completely absorbed in my Lego castle populated by Matchbox cars, G.I. Joes, and My Little Ponies.”

 
A combat veteran discusses how crochet helped her find positive thinking in the face of PTSD.

3. Combat Crochet: A Veteran’s Story by Samantha Nerove

This heartbreaking yet hopeful story documents one veteran’s struggle with PTSD when she returned to the field in Iraq, 18 years after her first tour during Operation Desert Storm. She found incredible relief in crocheting simple flowers for her friends and comrades during her darkest hours. Her ongoing journey toward emotional peace is endlessly inspiring.

“Night after night, I sat on my bunk holding on to life by participating in the wonder of yarns blossoming into flowers and other projects. Creating with fiber became my personal oasis in the desert of my disintegrating self.”

 
These tips will help infuse some positive thinking into even the most stressful of knitting situations.

4. Stress Knitting Got Ya Down? De-Stress Your Knitting in 5 Steps  by Hayley DeBerard

This light-hearted article discusses the very real phenomenon of being stressed out by crafty undertakings. Beginners, experts, and professionals alike: we’ve all been there. Hayley offers some easy positive thinking tips to regain perspective, cool off, and learn from mistakes.

“They make it sound like every knitter is immediately lulled into a knitting-induced nirvana, when the truth is knitting can most definitely be stressful, especially if you are a beginner.”

 
Learn about how knitting can serve as a meditation practice.

5. Medknitation by Suzan Colón

This three-part series from author, yoga instructor, and knitter Suzan Colón sees knitting as a form of mental therapy on par with traditional meditation. She discusses the benefits of a daily “medknitation” practice and offers lots of tips for people who want to give it a try.

“Meditation is about training your focus on one thing so your thoughts gradually recede into the background. . . . The usual points of focus in meditation are your breathing, or a mantra or prayer, but it can also be something active, like walking, eating, and (yes, yay!) knitting or crocheting.”

 

Crocheting mandalas can be an excellent mindfulness practice.

6. Seven Steps to Serenity with Crochet Mandalas by Andrea Lotz

I wrote this blog post last year when I was struggling with anxiety and negative thoughts. At that time, I found a lot of relief in making simple crocheted mandalas. As an exercise for the blog, I decided to set aside one night to stitch an entire mandala in one sitting. Just for fun, I stitched part of it in the bath!

“Everyone who has put hook to yarn knows that we’re dealing with something powerful here.”

 
What do you see as the relationship between knitting and/or crochet and positive thinking? And how do you keep negative thoughts at bay when stitchcraft becomes stressful? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Yours in Stitches,

Andrea


Projects and Resources to Foster Positive Thinking