Snow Day! and Warm Indoor Activities


It’s lovely! But I don’t want to go anywhere, since I am very aware of my limitations as a driver, and I suspect that at least half of the people who are driving are overestimating their abilities. Rather than panicking, I plan to “Keep Calm and Make Cocoa.” And knit. It’s a cozy, warm, and useful thing to do, and I love the way these millenia-old crafts make me feel connected to my ancestors. I learned to knit when I was around 7 or 8 years old, and I’ve made all sizes of projects, from socks to afghans, over the years. Recently I’ve had the very 21st century opportunity to teach Laura to knit via Skype – that’s pretty cool!

I’ve read anecdotal evidence of knitting’s therapeutic effects, that it is relaxing and meditative, and like other activities that combine mental and physical activity, such as dance, it preserves or improves cognition. But what does the research show? Again, let’s search PubMed. Hmmm…. their use of “knitting” isn’t always quite what I’m looking for; for example “Knitting the Perfect Nurse,” as a metaphor for the process of internalizing the role of the nurse; or “antimicrobial properties of knitted dacron suture material.” But there are definitely some studies specific to the craft of knitting.

One study with a sample of medical students and residents showed that knitting did help to reduce their stress levels, although I’m not sure what it was compared with (placebo knitting? how would that work?), or if the stress was measured qualitatively by self-report or by quantitative measures like blood pressure or heart rate. A study of elders showed that craft activities, which included knitting, did more to prevent cognitive impairment than any other types of activities studied, which included exercise or computer activities. A study of women at risk for cardiovascular disease did not show reduction in inflammatory markers with social interaction activities, such as knitting groups; aerobic exercise was the only thing that statistically significantly helped them. There were also some health risks, such as the woman who developed a blood clot in her arm from knitting, and one ER medical journal article about a chest wound with heart damage from a wooden knitting needle (I wanted more information about exactly how that happened, but I couldn’t get to the entire article). But generally, knitting has plenty of evidence for health benefit.


My most recent project. The patterns are from “55 Christmas Balls to Knit,” by Arne & Carlos, published by Trafalgar Square Books.



  1. My attempts at knitting have always been pretty pathetic. I could never seem to achieve an even and consistent stitch!

  2. mwhuntley · · Reply

    And didn’t we love those knitted Christmas ornaments! I have so many pretty handcrafted things you and David and Laura and your sisters have made over the years, Mary, and I treasure each one! Funny to think of knitting being bad for the heart — as in being stabbed by a knitting needle!

  3. mwhuntley · · Reply

    Jenny says they have more ice than snow in Durham today. We have bright, bright sunshine with temperatures rising to mid-70’s and it’ll be in the 80’s in the days ahead. I like cooler spells! I’ve gotten very big on Cozy!

  4. I hope you’re knitting me more of those Christmas ornaments! 🙂

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