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Three years ago, my sister and I were on a train back to the city from a visit with our father. His time was winding down. Our first parental passing; we were stunned. As we talked about this, my sister began to have an anxiety attack. I reached into my project bag and pulled out some yarn and needles. In moments, she was calmer. I think if I’d told her to take a deep breath and try to clear her mind, she might’ve socked me. The yarn and action of making stitches, though, gave her a tangible focus, and meditation happened naturally. 

Researchers in the fields of physical and mental health are studying the effects of knitting and crochet, and they’re proving what knitters have known for ages: weaving with two sticks (or a hook) and a string is calming for mind and body. Knitting lowers blood pressure, can help alleviate depression and stress, and it’s been compared to the state of deep relaxation in Yoga. But … when we knit, are we really getting all the benefits? 

I asked myself this question when knitting while watching Game of Thrones back in the Stark clan’s heyday. That show was well-written, but violent as all get out. I dropped more than a few stitches by the time winter finally came. We love to knit while watching TV, listening to podcasts, talking with friends, having a glass of wine…  Those things are all fine and fun, and knitting can also be a reliable, frustration-free form of meditation. 

The world is in a very intense place right now, and experts say it’s taking a toll on our mental health. But here’s the good news: we’ve got the inside track on a highly accessible, very effective form of meditation—right in our hands! And, unlike some traditional forms of meditation, ours is actually (wait for it) fun

Combining aspects of my Yoga and meditation training with knitting, I came up with a system of MedKNITation that you can do easily. Using a “mindless” project like a scarf or the part of a sweater that’s endless stockinette, set aside 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time a day (without TV, wine, or talking), follow these simple steps, and you may soon be possessed of enviable calm. 

  1. Grounding: In a comfortable chair, sit up tall, without strain, to create space for your breathing. 
  2. Scanning: Jon Kabat-Zinn’s body scan meditation is part of his stress reduction system, and it’s easy: mentally go through your body from your toes to the top of your head, noting, without judgement, how you feel. 
  3. Breathing: Deep breaths are part of the body’s relaxation response. Taking three comfortably deep breaths will help calm your body and mind. 
  4. Engaging: Part of the allure of knitting is how it delights our senses. Take in the colors of your yarn, let your mind be soothed by the orderliness of your stitches, and invite your tactile senses to the meditation by smooshing your yarn. 
  5. Focusing: When we first learn to knit, each stitch has our full attention. As you begin this knitting meditation, go more slowly than you usually do. Let your awareness rest gently on the motions your fingers are making; the feel of the yarn passing through your hands; any sounds your needles make. 
  6. Accepting: A common misconception about meditation is that the mind should be clear of any thoughts. If thoughts come up, let them. Observe them the way someone might observe traffic from a porch; they can see it, but they don’t have to walk into it. 
  7. Closing: At the end of your allotted time, set aside your project and take three conscious, comfortably deep breaths to close your medknitation. 

As I’ve made this a regular practice, I’ve learned to set intentions and weave prayers and a series of affirmations into my knitting meditations. The most important part, though, is giving yourself this gift of quiet space, a gentle, contemplative time that helps keep the dragons at bay. 

Keep it handy. Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click so you can refer to it whenever you like … or need to.

About The Author

Suzan Colón is a writer, a reader of the tarot, and a teacher of MedKNITation, a system she developed for meditation with knitting and crochet.


  • Well said. I will try to remember this whenever I pick up my needles.

  • Wholeheartedly agree. My blog is called Knitatation for all of these reasons. Thanks for sharing.

  • I have always loved the sound of knitting, heard in the company of silence. Now that it is Spring-ish-time, the birds now singalong with my needles. Now, I can add the sound of my breath and the feel of muscles melting! Thank you!

  • I am both a knitter and a yogi. This essay is perfect.

  • As much as I agree (and I do) … what is that yarn in the middle picture. Bobbly blue (garter stitch?) I must play with it…

    • Hi Aoifse, I think that bobbly blue might be Malabrigo “Caracol”

      • YES!!

        • That’s exactly what it is! Good eye!

  • Thank you for this advice! And for the step-by-step approach. Lovely.

  • As I read your excellent guidance, I’m reflecting about how much I enjoy knitting outside and connecting the two thoughts – no electronics, no multi-tasking while knitting in the park, at the beach (granted, some distractions there!), or just on the back porch. Thank you!

  • After this particularly stressful week I have returned to knitting dish clothes. Maybe my knitting mind knew I needed something simple and calming.

    • Same here! Linoleum dishcloths are my go to for calming my mind and body. Have made a lot of them during these times. The bonus is giving them to friends and family as a random little treat.

  • I do knit while watching and listening, and there is a slight meditative quality present even with something going on in the background. Often the background totally fades away, and I am left with myself and my needles. I also meditate every day and I am going to start to start to marry the two together.
    Intuitively, I know my knitting is good for my mental health which is one of the reasons knit. Thank you for your article.

  • As a handwork teacher for elementary students, I have seen the benefits of working with the hands for the anxious child. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have felt that the healing aspect of knitting and crochet has come to be even more important. Self directed work with your hands to make something useful can help children redirect their feelings and feel positive about themselves.

  • Thank you Suzan. While I am not always successful, I do try to gift myself 15 minutes of knitting time each day expressly for grounding myself. This article is a wonderful reminder of the power of crafting.

  • Wonderful article. Although I have always recognized this to be true, it is always a good reminder. Thank you.

  • You have just described my life! I love yoga and meditation but I really really LOVE knitting. The magic is in the doing and paying attention to that doing, with just a light touch. Nice article!

  • Thank you for this post. I find a temperature blanket to be the perfect daily meditative project.

  • Suzan, this is such a perfect introduction to meditation. Thank you so much—really wonderful.

    • Thank you so much, Ann and everybody!

  • This is perfect for me today. Thank you!

  • I really love this. Thank you.

  • This is just what recent days call for, thank you.

  • I enjoy knitting most of the time, but it’s not my religion. I do it because I can make nice things. It is sometimes frustrating and sometimes boring. It is not the center of my life. It does not affect my blood pressure, except in some of the frustrating parts. I’m glad it works for many people but it’s not the be end all for everyone.

  • Thank you!
    I plan to try this!

  • Absolutely. When denied knitting for8 weeks because of hand surgery, I felt mt attitude and patience in severe decline. Now I’m authorized to knit for 15 min twice a day. I can feel the mood lifting! Amazing to realize the power of knitting in my life.

  • As usual, Suzan give us excellent information. Medknitation changed my life. Thank you once more.

  • Thank you so much. I needed this today.

  • This is very doable. Organizing the qualities, adding intention, very helpful for seeing how to improve my technique. Crochet, and more recently knitting, have saved my life. Now, I want them to contribute to my longevity. . . .

  • As a former LYO, we felt knitting was cheaper than a psychiatrist. We also found our customers who would come from chemo infusions would totally relax while knitting. It is indeed, a gift, this craft we do called knitting.

  • I really loved this. It makes it sound easy to try and I’ll try to include it in my day. I also find this works with spinning for me because it requires my full attention to get going and then the rhythm of the wheel and the quiet take over. Does this happen for anyone else out there spins?

  • Thank you for column! I will be mindful of my knitting! Knitting has truly helped me thru the last few years.

  • Lovely.
    Sometimes when I’m having trouble falling asleep I will sit on the floor in the dark with just the faintest hint of glow from something (so I can’t see my knitting) — I will just sit and knit, silently, enjoying the peace and the still house and the softly snoring dog nearby — it settles me and then after 10 or 15 minutes I can crawl back into bed and finally sleep.

  • I enjoyed reading this post, and have saved it for future reference. I was very touched reading how knitting helped to calm your sister during your dad’s illness. Knitting helped me through those initial days of shock and grief after the passing of each of my parents.

    While reading your post, I was reminded of a book that I read a few years back, Knit for Health and Wellness by Betsan Corkhill. Ms. Corkhill, originally a physical therapist by profession, also wrote a second such book about crochet. While reading her book, I remember thinking that every LYS should have the book on display. It is a benefit to knitters; and, I imagined that knitters would also be using the information to encourage their friends to learn knitting. Sadly, I haven’t seen this kind of subject matter in yarn shops. So, I was doubly happy to see your post here in MDK.

  • Thank you Suzan! I often comment to my best friend; “…and I didn’t even have time to knit today!” Or…”and today I got to sit and knit a few rows!”.

    It is indeed calming and centering, I’ve always known that. But the thought of actually making it a daily practice might just be the perspective I need to allow myself the time, rather than feeling I need to “steal the time”, to do something I love, and not feel guilty that I am not getting other things accomplished.

    • Super interesting article and thoughts. I would definitely agree that knitting is meditative as well as calming and relaxing (maybe some day we can call this exercise and cover all bases in life). I am a pretty hyper Type A person in my intense and high level day job and I knit most nights even if only for 20 minutes and it takes my body and brain to a different plane. I have a project which is just basic stitches (ie: mindless) as well as a more complex project which requires more thought and creativity

  • Amen to all this! I have used knitting and needlepoint as go to meditation techniques for years. Not only do you gain the benefits of a calmer, more centered and peaceful self, but, you ultimately create a useful thing of beauty. A win-win situation for sure.

    Keep knitting or crafting. It makes a big difference in life.

  • I couldn’t agree more with this article. Knitting has brought me calm and peace since I first started after a devastating loss in my family. It continues to be the gift that keeps on giving and I can’t even imagine where I’d be without it.

  • Thank you, Suzan, for your timely and helpful article! I needed this today.

  • What an interesting way to approach meditation. Thanks for telling me I don’t have to clear my mind of thoughts. I’ve never be able to do that! This actually reminds me of what I experience when I’m doing work in the garden. Sometimes I have music or an audio book with me. When I am out in the garden without either of those the brain runs rampant. Sometimes, though, I can reach a place where I’m just listening to the birds and am so focused on what I’m doing. It really feels different when that happens.

  • I hope you will receive loads of comfort from friends and family as you journey through this time with your Dad. ♥️

  • YES! YES! YES! I’ve known this for all my life, and I’m not young any more. 🙂 Knitting…crochet, tatting, embroidery….it’s all meditation, all calming to my brain and soothing to my soul.

    Weaving in affirmations and prayers into the fabric as I go along is essential, especially for the wee tiny items that will clothe babies!

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