Ok, not really. I mean, kind of…never mind. That’s not what this is about.
But I did PLAY Unstable Unicorns. Tabletop gaming isn’t really my thing, but I was with a group who love it, so I was willing. If you’ve never seen this game, the idea is to build a “stable” of 7 unicorns to win. Some have magical powers, some are hipsters, some are puppicorns or narwhals. It’s worth the Google, because the whole thing is pretty adorable.
But here’s the thing: it was my first time playing, and I got *thisclose* to winning. Why?
Because I was knitting, and no one thought I was focused on the game.
We’ve all been there. On a conference call; in a meeting; during jury duty, and we’re happily knitting away, participating in the conversation, but the non-knitters in the room assume we aren’t paying attention (there’s usually a snarky comment involved). And WE know that’s not true.
Much like doodling, simple knitting projects allow you to keep your hands busy and give you greater focus on the conversation in front of you. Doodling (or simple repetitive knitting) requires little executive cognitive function, but just enough to keep your mind from wandering from the task at hand and daydreaming. In one study, doodlers retained 29% more information in a test than non-doodlers. (1)
Of course there are some caveats to this: projects that require following charts, repeatedly checking patterns, or challenging skills (at whatever your level) require more than doodling-level attention, and will ACTUALLY distract you from the event in front of you.
Other benefits of knitting (and other repetitive needlework activities) include, but are not limited to:
If, like me, you enjoy nerding-out on research, a British non-profit called “Knitting for Peace” conducted an extensive literature review of existing research on the benefits of knitting and other crafts. You can read the report HERE.
TL;DR Keep knitting. It’s good for you.
(6)Harvard Medical School (2007) The Relaxation Response