The Mindfulness in Knitting

March 13th, 2017

By: Chelsea Manzon, Clinical Intern

     The therapeutic intervention of Mindfulness has been linked, through research, to increased attention 1, 2, emotion regulation 3, 4, 5, self-compassion 6, 7, 8, and stress reduction 9, 10, 11. Mindfulness emphasizes awareness and taking in the present moment, rather than focusing on past stress and grievances. This includes being aware of one’s own body and how it is affected by our activities and our lives. The mind-body connection is more obvious in activities like yoga and meditation. However, knitting is a common activity that also works hand-in-hand with mindfulness. The feelings of touch can serve as a gateway into the present moment and provide a different type of meditation to achieve calm and decrease stress. Specifically, the feeling of the knitting needles and the yarn working together in the hands, the contrast of the new materials, and the pattern you choose can also help with preventing arthritis and cognitive decline through focus and mental exercise.

     Many of the clients we encounter at JCADA suffer from intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and depression, as a result of abuse and past trauma. Knitting gives a sense of accomplishment through creation, and allows the knitter to create something for themselves or someone else, while still receiving the mindful benefits of knitting. This sense of achievement can help reduce symptoms of depression through completion of a project, while active participation in knitting can give the knitter a sense of purpose – no matter how small. Focusing on the repetition can give the knitter freedom from intrusive thoughts and an undercurrent of anxiety, using the pattern and stitches to occupy their thoughts and to create something new and beautiful.

     Because of these benefits, JCADA hosted a special group workshop on knitting and mindfulness for our clients, which received an overwhelmingly positive response and attendance. Participants also mentioned the sense of community among fellow survivors of domestic abuse and expressed the desire form a Knitting Circle to create continued informal opportunities for support amongst the attendees.

     If you have a desire to find a therapeutic knitting circle in your community, please visit the Craft Yarn Council Guild Boards or at Project Knitwell for those living in the Greater Washington area. Happy Knitting!


1 Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600. 

2 Sedlmeier, P., Eberth, J., Schwarz, M., Zimmermann, D., Haarig, F., Jaeger, S., & Kunze, S. (2012). The psychological effects of meditation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1139. 

3 Roemer, L., Williston, S. K., & Rollins, L. G. (2015). Mindfulness and emotion regulation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 3, 52–57. 

4 Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-¬based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83. 

5 Ortner, C. N., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2007). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 271–283. 

6 Birnie, K., Speca, M., & Carlson, L. E. (2010). Exploring self-¬compassion and empathy in the context of mindfulness-¬based stress reduction (MBSR). Stress and Health, 26(5), 359–371. 

7 Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A Pilot Study and Randomized Controlled Trial of the Mindful Self-¬Compassion Program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28–44. 

8 Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-¬care to caregivers: effects of mindfulness-¬based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105. 

9 Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-¬based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-¬analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600. 

10 Pbert, L., Madison, J. M., Druker, S., Olendzki, N., Magner, R., Reed, G., … Carmody, J. (2012). Effect of mindfulness training on asthma quality of life and lung function: a randomised controlled trial. Thorax, 67(9), 769–776. 

11 Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Marques, L., Metcalf, C. A., Morris, L. K., Robinaugh, D. J., … Simon, N. M. (2013). Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74(8), 786–792.

Posted by JCADA | Topic: Clinical  | Category: Clincial

Leave a comment:

Name (required):
Email (required):
Please Enter Code Into the Textbox Below (CODE IS CASE-SENSITIVE):