Healthy habits: knitting

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Cloth Carousel, the local go-to store for all things knitting, felting and crocheting, hosts an open knit night every Thursday. People bring in their knitting projects and spend the evening receiving and dispensing knitting advice. Sierra Kreun, a Cloth Carousel employee, says that sometimes people don’t even bring their knitting projects. They just want to come in and chat. According to Kreun, many of the knitters come from surrounding cities like Woodland and Dixon. Some of them meet up at local restaurants for dinner before they join the crafting group. The next closest knitting store is in Sacramento, so dedicated knitters flock to Cloth Carousel for the camaraderie of Thursday night knitting. Knitting is an ancient fiber craft dating back to the 11th century. Now that warm clothing can be easily mass produced, it has become more of a hobby than a life skill. So why is knitting making a comeback in popularity? Beside being an enjoyable way to pass the time, research has shown that there are actual mental and physical health benefits to knitting. Knitting reduces stress Knitting is meditative. The repetitive action of creating thousands of interlocking knots with nothing but yarn and two needles can act as a shortcut the the meditative state traditionally brought on by mantras and breathing exercises. This kind of activity has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. It can help combat memory loss A 2011 study conducted by the Mayo clinic found that seniors who engaged in crafts like knitting and crocheting had a 30-50 percent lower chance of suffering from memory loss or mild cognitive impairment. The study included 1,321 people between the ages of 70 and 89, and found that those who participated in these crafts had better results than those who played music or read the newspaper to stay sharp. Knitting can help tackle mental health issues The repetitive action of knitting can help calm the mind and distraction from anxious and stressful thoughts. In 2009, a study from the University of British Columbia found that when patients being treated for anorexia could use knitting to effectively stop anxious thoughts and rumination. Another study conducted by the British Journal of Occupational Health looked at the possible benefits of knitting in combating depression. Out of the 3,500 people surveyed, 81 percent said that they felt happier after they spent some time knitting. Researchers believe that this mood boost came from the release of dopamine people get when they see themselves creating something useful. It can replace bad habits Smokers, compulsive snackers and other people with habits they would like to break have found that it can help to reach for a knitting project instead of giving in to cravings. The mental distraction of counting stitches and rows can help to redirect the mind. Can help people with Parkinson’s disease Knitting uses multiple brain functions at once. The knitter’s brain has to tap into planning skills, visualization, interpretation of instructions and precision movements. It has been shown to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their motor functions. It can even prevent arthritis and tendinitis. Knitting can provide a self esteem boost When people knit, they are dedicating themselves to a project that they can watch grow and change in real time. Knitting is not only a hobby with a purpose, it results in a tangible product. This kind of result can give the knitter a boost in self esteem. For more information about crafting classes at Cloth Carousel, visit www.clothcarousel.com]]>

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