Knit one, pearl two
The therapeutic benefits of crafting with wool
By Ellen B. Rubin
Who would have thought that an activity as simple as knitting and crochet has the power to change lives? When I picked up the hobby to get through a difficult time in my life many years ago, my background as a scientist helped me recognize the therapeutic benefits. These activities decrease heart rate, reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase levels of dopamine and serotonin.
Teaching others how to knit and crochet showed me the same profound effects such as lowering levels of anxiety and depression, helping people recover from PTSD, addiction, social isolation, compassion fatigue and more. Passionate about sharing the therapeutic benefits of my hobby and helping others live better lives, I opened a yarn store, Luv2Knit & More and subsequently launched a non-profit, Therapeutic Crafters on Call.
Today we provide access to classes at the store or online, and develop programming for other non-profits, governments, and hospitals by combining science and art.
One notable moment in my journey was teaching children suffering from hemiparesis (the partial paralysis or muscular weakness on one side of the body commonly caused by a stroke, cerebral palsy or a tumor of the brain)
at the local children’s hospital.
The sessions demonstrated how bimanual activities such as knitting and crochet may help recreate damaged neural pathways and help them regain valuable motor skills. The kids were hopeful and tenacious and the sense of accomplishment they got as they completed their projects made them stick to their knitting much longer than I had expected.
Another person who I saw reap the benefits of knitting is Orisha, who suffered from clinical depression when she lost her husband only four months after she completed her cancer treatment. Orisha has found solace in knitting, saying that the activity not only helped her through emotional pain but also physically by lowering her heart rate.
I’ve taught knitting and crochet to thousands of children and adults for over the past 20 years. The most fulfilling part involves the joy in their eyes and the stories of how knitting has had a positive impact on their lives.
As I see it, the world would be a better place if people learned how to knit and crochet.
Ellen B. Rubin is an immunologist and the founder of Luv2Knit & More and Therapeutic Crafters on Call. She teaches the therapeutic benefits of knitting and crochet to help alleviate stress, anxiety, PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, social isolation, and more. Ellen has worked in the fields of ovarian cancer research, asthma, multiple sclerosis as well as reporting pharmaceutical safety information, and research in the fields of toxicology and microbiology.