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This past weekend, I gave half of my stash away. What would cause me to do such a thing? 

Recently, a friend and her daughter started learning how to crochet together—at another time, I might not have thought much further about it. But I’ve been reading about the social media giants and studies on the detrimental effects of their apps on kids. “Compare-and-despair” depression and online bullying are on the rise. I thought about how much better it would be if children, tweens, and teenagers had something other than a phone in their hands—like yarn and knitting needles and crochet hooks.

My friends, I had half my stash in a big pink bag before you could say cast on

Years ago, our elders passed along the skills of knitting and crochet because we needed to learn how to make clothing. Now, we absolutely must pass along these fiber arts along because the next generation needs them. Knitting and crochet help hand-eye coordination, brain development, and STEM skills; they also build self-esteem and personal satisfaction. And they’re fun! Studies showing those results have been done too. If the social media giants won’t act on their studies, we can act on ours. 

At the same time you teach a child to knit or crochet, add meditation techniques to support the stress-reducing benefits of handwork. Once the kid you’re teaching gets the hang of basic stitches, during the soothing space of endless rows to make a scarf, you can introduce meditation in a few easy steps: 

Be mindful of your posture, and teach your young student to do the same. Many teenagers have “text neck” from looking down. Teach by example and check out Carson Demers’s post on posture here

Deep breaths are a signal to mind and body to release stress. Encourage a few deep breaths at the start of your lesson to help both of you get calm. 

Reframe mistakes. Part of meditation is cultivating an attitude of patience and compassion for a busy mind. Mistakes happen—like the inevitable dropped stitch or backwards row. Model acceptance, and that will extend to other areas of your young friend’s life. 

Create a judgment-free zone. When my friend Tanya Singer held an impromptu knitting camp in her backyard during lockdown, her beginning knitters, all teens, became so relaxed by knitting that they began opening up about personal issues. Tanya trained herself to respond, rather than react, without judgment (speaking with parents when necessary). 

Knitting is fun, and it’s stress relief. We know this, but sometimes it can be helpful to make it as clear as the instructions on a pattern: Handwork is a way to feel better. The next time the kid is upset, they may reach for the yarn before the phone. 

When I gave my friend’s daughter that big bag of yarn, I saw pure tween-age combustive joy, and something else: possibility. She has a tool now, and she can use it to fight the dragons of this tech-heavy time. 

Knitting is all about possibility. We see yarn and envision all the things we can make. The greatest thing we can make is a difference. Teach a child to knit. If you don’t have children in your life, teach a teacher, who can then pass it on to their students. If we can make garments out of two sticks and a string, we can make positive change. 

Save it for later. Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

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.


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.


  • Love this! Society is in great need of time away from our phones and tablets! Teach a child to knit and you open the door to a creative and meditative outlet. Gardening, riding a bike, walking the dog without being glued to the phone, reading a real book, playing the piano-these all provide a way to get away from the overflow of social media. I wish our children well in this crazy world we are leaving them

    • Excellent article! Totally support this skill.

    • Oh I love that piano was added. I always thought if you encouraged a child in handcrafts, sports, reading and learning a musical instrument, they would have the resources to live a happy and useful life. (Emphasis on encourage, not browbeat:))

      • I’ve told my children, they can quit piano lessons when they move out of my house. Because, said no adult EVER, “I wish my mom hadn’t MADE me take piano lessons.” Instead, adults everywhere say, “I wish my mom hadn’t let me quit piano lessons.”
        If they move back in, they will start taking piano lessons again. They can think of it as rent.
        They can also all knit. 😉

        • I wish my mom hadn’t MADE me take piano lessons. I absolutely hated it and as a result hated all music for years (I didn’t listen to music for pleasure, even pop music, until late high school). I wanted to do other things, like read, or knit, or play with animals. Helping cultivate a passion in a child is wonderful, but to drag them kicking and screaming is NOT the way to make someone love anything. Respectfully, Traumatized by Piano

  • I loved hearing this! I taught my granddaughter to knit when she was little. A few years ago she taught herself to crochet by watching online videos and many texts with me. She likes to crochet toys and blankets. When she came for a visit right after learning I gave her a pop up laundry hamper that she filled with yarn from my stash. Once she started she has barely stopped and now has more yarn than me! She’s now graduating high school and will go off to college soon . I like to think that she will take her craft with her to relax. Anyway she’s a crafter for life!

  • I learned to knit at 8, taught by a wonderful, patient lady when dad was in grad school and the families lived in the men’s dorm on campus. If you don’t have children on your personal life you can do as she did and find some. There are after school programs and summer programs for school age kids that are always looking for volunteers. When we moved I gave half my stash to an inner city after school program that included yarn, needles and crochet hooks. The director was thrilled.

    • I ve been knitting for 61 years. Just started a new colorwork sweater

      • Which l haven’t done since the late 60’s. I see all these tutorials, etc. and think, “How did l do it all by myself all those years?!”So glad to see people picking up handwork of any kind.

  • Thank you for this very meaningful essay. Knitting can nourish us at any age, but especially the young in an era where we have moved away from the satisfaction of “making” in so many ways. I recently finished my first sweater. I have never felt such pride in wearing a garment. Now I am almost done with a second. If I stop admiring it so often I will get the sleeves finished!

    • I am a knitting teacher and wholeheartedly agree with the ‘passing it on’ philosophy.

  • Suzan, Thank you for your wonderful idea! I’ll be bagging up some stash too to share – love spreading creativity around at a time when it’s really needed.

  • I recently gave a friend’s 15 year old daughter a bunch of yarn too because she had taught herself to crochet! She was SO happy to get it, and made the most beautiful things with it! It brought immense joy to me!!!!! (And to a sweet 15 year old!!!)

  • Suzan I totally agree and thanks for your writing, always wise words. I may be teaching knitting classes for the first time soon so this was very encouraging. And I have plenty of stash to start them off with!

  • This is great! It’s partially also why I’ve had a knitting club at every school I’ve taught in!

  • Absolutely. Having raised four kids and now involved with four local grandkids, I have seen what the stresses of so-called “childhood” can have on developing psyches. Knitting, weaving, crocheting, making art …all are almost magic in our healthier lives. Good idea! Good article!

  • Terrific article and illustrations! Thanks Suzan!

  • I have spent May days at Walter-Reed Hospital teaching knitting to patients and caregivers alike. It helps both and give everyone time away from their pain and mental concerns.

  • Preach, sister!

  • Love this article. Recognizing mental health issues in children and teens is fortunately coming to the forefront. In this environment of social media etc. self care for children needs to be promoted as part of a school curriculum from nursery school to college. Learning yoga will give an option to learn ways of controlling and soothing the difficulties with anxiety for everyone but especially for children, teens and college students. As far as knitting, I do not know how I could exist without it. It has always been my “go to” . I am so blessed that it is an anxiety reliever to me. As I’ve gotten older it has become even more important. MDK has enriched my life as well. To be part of a kind, humorous, creative, unbiased, safe group -well there are not enough words. Thank you for always being current and for offering a place to find support.

  • Teaching kids to knit or other kinds of craft is such a gift. Lovely story, thanks.

  • I love this. I was a tween when I learned to knit. Our grandaughters are both under five, but I’d love it if they take to things fiberish when they’re a bit older.

  • Thank you. I might have to try again to get my grandchildren to try knitting! Great article.

  • Love this article. I was lucky to have grown up in a home where playing the piano and learning other hand crafts were encouraged. My mother taught me how to crochet when I was in high school, but as I was growing up, my sister, my brother, and me did paint-by-number pictures. My dad even framed some and hung them in his office. My sister is 12 years older than me and so hearing her play the piano along with my mom and dad really encouraged me to play. My brother played the clarinet, but not well. All these activities help to grow the idea that things made by hand are good and gives you a sense of well being. As a newlywed over 50 years ago, I learned to embroider, do needlework, and cross stitch. These crafts along with music, and reading have been the “backbones” of life that bring endless joy and love in good or struggling times. Seeing my younger daughter knit so well, encouraged me to learn to knit around 2008.

  • I recently downsized my stash to a friend of my granddaughters. Thought I might be sorry later, but, “NOPE!”

  • Love it! My grandma taught me so many things. My mom taught me some more. Various aunts also passed on skills.
    I am teaching my granddaughter to knit. I taught all my kids to cook. I have passed on my love of books to my kids and 4 of 7 grandkids and various nieces and nephews.
    I just went through 2 Rubbermaid bins full of yarn and tools and passed them on to a dutch niece and told her to distribute the goods among her friends in the craft class she is taking.
    The look on her face and the instructor’s face was worth the time and effort. (Plus two empty bins to refill)

  • Great article. I learned to knit from a neighbor when I was in my late 20s. Recently I’ve been helping a woman learn to make socks. She is always commenting on how patient I am, etc. As I tell her, I’m not patient. I just remember Edith teaching me years ago and how much joy and peace knitting has brought to me in my 45+ years of knitting. I want to pass those feelings on to others as a way of honoring my teacher, Edith.

  • “Reframe mistakes.” When I was learning to knit seven years ago, I made a mistake, didn’t see it and kept knitting. My teacher showed me that I could incorporate it by repeating it. She said see, “Now you are a designer!”

  • Great perspective, action, and “paying it forward”!!

  • I love everything about this! The lightbulb came on over my head. Of course! I can do this. Thank you.

  • Many of the comments already received express my same thoughts. All I need to do is keep teaching this skill, open up my stash closet,open my ears as we relax in the activity, make better connections with my friends, family, and neighbors.

  • Gathering a bag of yarn stash as I read this…

  • Such a joyful prospect! I feel lighter and brighter.

  • What an awesome and positive article! Lovely! I am going to look for a group of teens to give my stash to!

  • When I was a fourth grade teacher, I taught all of my students how to crochet. We made potholders for Mother’s Day. We had a short time set aside each day to crochet. Then the students began to ask if they could crochet when their assignments were finished. Of course the answer was yes, if they did their best work.
    Each year that part of the year was most productive, learning school and crochet.
    I learned to crochet left-handed so I was better able to teach them all.
    I see some of them now they are grown and they are still crocheting!

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