Knitting and stress reduction

Heike Utsch (2007)

In recent years knitting has experienced a surge in popularity. One of the reasons may be that knitting serves as a stress reducer. The purpose of this study is to provide empirical evidence regarding the relationship between knitting and stress. Knitters and their knitting habits are described in detail to help the clinician decide for whom knitting is helpful as a stress reducer, Two hundred twenty five adult, mostly Caucasian and predominantly female, knitters completed a questionnaire, specifically designed for this study, and the PSS-10, which measures perceived stress. The results support the main hypothesis that knitting is an effective stress reducer. Knitting positively affects all four types of stress symptom categories. However it is more effective in reducing emotional and cognitive symptoms than physical and behavioral symptoms. Also, knitters can be divided into self-declared therapeutic knitters, who state that knitting is a stress reducer for them, and non-therapeutic knitters, who do not perceive their hobby to be helpful with stress reduction. The two groups differ markedly in that knitting is more effective in stress symptom reduction for the therapeutic knitters. Knitting habits during times of severe stress change for both groups, but differently. Therapeutic knitters increase their amount of knitting during times of severe stress whereas non-therapeutic knitters knit less. Furthermore, it was found that knitting is not a solitary activity, which suggests that it could be used both in a group as well as an individual therapy setting.