The truth about crafting and mental health


Many have long claimed that knitting and crochet are beneficial to mental and physical health, but what's the truth? 

We've all long heard the claims that knitting and crochet are good for mental health. Our customers have told us their stories, and we have some of our own here at Laughing Hens HQ. In order to find the truth, we dug into the peer-reviewed studies surrounding the issue and put our science goggles on. We think that regardless of studies, though, knitting and crochet is an important craft especially as we as a global society think more about how fast fashion damages the environment. (Click here to read our article on the truth about natural fibres.)


Knitting and Mental health quote


As the organizer for Perth Festival of Yarn in Perth, Scotland, Eva Christie is an important part of the fabric of the knitting and crochet community. She liaises with designers, spinners, weavers, and dyers, as well as with the visitors to the yarn show that attend every year, and has heard stories of how knitting and crochet saved their lives, giving them something to focus on other than their own mental or physical pain. 

With a strong focus on community, the yarn show encourages visitors to sit and chat, make new friends and catch up with old ones; as it turns out, that's one of the most important benefits, especially for older crafters. 

In a 2013 study (1), researchers found an alarming link between social isolation and rapid health decline in older members of society. While loneliness itself is not a root cause for health decline, isolation is a strong indicator that someone is not receiving the level of care they should, whether from food, medical care and medications, or practicing suggested habits as recommended by their doctors. Older people with a network of friends and hobbyist groups didn't show the same rapid health decline as those who were socially isolated. As such, knitting and crochet groups can be a huge lifeline for people across all age groups, providing the social interaction and bonding we all need and crave. (2)



A designer of accessible patterns for all skill levels of knitters, Louise Tilbrook is no stranger to the idea that crafting can facilitate better mental health. Her patterns are frequently seen alongside handmade socks, steaming mugs of black coffee, and snuggly cats on Instagram, and this quote from a 2018 blog post on her website  show how invested she in in maintaining knitting time as a quiet moment for herself, a respite amongst the noise of the day. 

Many of us feel like that, even us here at Laughing Hens HQ. 20 minutes knitting in the quiet, or listening to peaceful music as we pass stitches over needles and hooks, can feel as restorative as a long nap. This 2013 study (3) backs up our feelings, with a study that focused on the benefits of knitting as an adult. Nearly every participant reported significantly reduced stress even when knitting alone, though participation in local groups also had a large impact on reducing depression and anxiety, and this 2011 study (4) proved that engaging in cognitive activities like knitting and crochet reduced cognitive impairment among adults. 

Studies like the ones mentioned above continue to prove that keeping your mind engaged with hobbies like word or number puzzles, knitting, crochet, or reading improves cognitive function and keeps your brain young and agile. In addition to mental health benefits, studies like this one (5) from 2011 are digging into the possibility that knitting and crochet, along with other arts and crafts, can also have measurable physical health benefits, too - and it turns out, there is. 

People who suffer from long term chronic pain took part in this study to measure the effectiveness of craft on their mindset and ability to deal with their conditions. The participants reported reduced pain as a result of these arts and crafts activities, as well as an overall improvement to their health and well-being. More studies are in the works to examine these findings, and to further investigate the possibility of using crafts like knitting and crochet as part of a holistic approach to mental health, and physical health as well. 

 This qualitative study (6) also took a deep dive into measuring this phenomenon, but specifically with knitting, and the results were conclusive. Taking part in knitting, either as a solitary hobby, or in a group setting, reduced chronic pains and stresses, and contributed to an overall improvement in the participants' mental and physical health. One participant said, "Knitting requires me to think creatively, plan, prepare, organise, coordinate, and control just one small aspect of my life. Then other changes are manageable." 

Knitting and crochet can also be a help for those struggling with addiction, as this study (7) states. The addition of knitting into group sessions as well as personal time facilitated group relationships and dynamics, and led to stronger bonds among the participants Knitting also provided a useful skill to help moderate stress and emotions, which caused an overall benefit to their mental health.

We never expected to find this much research that overwhelmingly supports the commonly held opinion that knitting and crochet improve mental and physical health across all ages and even with specific needs like chronic pain and addiction. It's safe to say that knitting and crochet will benefit your mental health, and possibly even your physical health too. 


Knitting and mental health



1: Social Isolation and Loneliness (link)

2: Poor Health and Loneliness in Later Life (link)

3: The Benefits of Knitting in Adulthood (link)

4: Engaging in Cognitive Activities (link)

5:Use of Arts as a Complementary therapy (link)

6: Exploring the Effects of Knitting (link)

7: Knitting Through Recovery (link)

8: Health Benefits of Knitting (link)