Knitting is fun… but, it is so much more than that! Join us today in a discussion with yarn shop owner and professional knitter, Nancy Queen, as she shares the benefits of knitting. If you have always wanted to try knitting, but didn’t know where to start, this episode of the Sixty and Me Show is for you!

 

Margaret Manning:

My guest today is Nancy Queen. Nancy is the owner of nobleknits.com, an online yarn store and knitting community. Welcome, Nancy.

Nancy Queen:

Hi! Thanks so much for having me, Margaret.

Margaret:

You’re very welcome. I’m very happy to have you here. Before I forget, I’d like to mention that not only are you passionate about knitting and your community of women who knit. You’ve actually written two books.

Nancy:

Yes.

Margaret:

The titles are really great, too: The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting and The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet.

Nancy:

They are pretty comprehensive books that take you step by step through the process. With each step and technique that you learn, there’s a project that go with it to help you incorporate that technique.

Margaret:

I believe the number of knitting people in the world is about 50 million, they’re onto something. With this interview, I would love you to share some of the benefits of knitting. How does knitting help you to relieve stress and anxiety? Why is it such a great hobby?

Nancy:

First of all, knitting really is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. I can’t remember who did this study, but they found that knitting has all of the relaxation properties of yoga. The reason for that is that you control your breathing when concentrating on your stitches. It’s a very rhythmic process, and it really helps you relax and unwind.

It’s great when waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or you’re in the car for a long period of time. It’s also useful in public transportation, when you just need to hone in on you and center yourself. Knitting is a great way to do that, no matter where you are. I always have a project with me.

Margaret:

I can image that you’ve got these little bags full of different yarns and projects. I actually knit on the train. To me, trains are places where you just need to breathe and relax and get into a comfort zone. Besides, knitting is really fun.

Nancy:

Have you noticed that when you are on the train it sparks up conversations with other knitters?

Margaret:

Oh my gosh, yes!

Nancy:

That’s because knitting is a very communal hobby to have. I also like to sow, but when I sow, I do it alone. I’m in a room by myself at my machine table. It’s rewarding, but it’s very isolated.

With knitting, you can do it anywhere. It’s a hobby that tends to bring people together. You form friendships and bonds through this hobby, and you share your passion together. There’s not much that’s better than that.

Margaret:

That’s really healthy. It hikes up the happiness quotient significantly. When I was on a train in Germany last year, I took my knitting with me. I was knitting one of my famous straight line scarves, like the one I’m wearing right now.

Nancy:

I love that.

Margaret:

Then a woman with a walker got on and sat down across the aisle from me. She brought out her knitting, and it looked really intricate. She was moving her finger to get her complicated stitches, and I was doing my straight lines. It was lovely. I ended up going to her side of the train.

Nancy:

Oh, that’s wonderful.

Margaret:

It was wonderful. Even though she was doing this intricate thing and I was doing my beginners, we still connected.

Nancy:

Right. Knitting brings people together.

Margaret:

What we covered so far are that knitting helps reduce anxiety, and that it’s very social. I didn’t believe this when I read one of your articles, but you said you can lose calories knitting?

Nancy:

Yes, you can lose a hundred and two calories an hour. So if you’re watching a two-hour movie, you’re burning 204 calories. If your hands are busy knitting, you’re not stuffing your face with popcorn. You can just sit there and knit, watch the movie and watch yourself lose a little weight, too.

Margaret:

Also, you can’t do anything bad when you’re knitting. If your hands are busy you can’t put a cookie in your mouth or smoke a cigarette.

Nancy:

Exactly. It definitely helps to curb those bad habits that we’ve picked up along the way.

Margaret:

Do you ever find yourself forgetting where you are when knitting?

Nancy:

All the time.

Margaret:

You slip away somewhere, to a place in your memories. It’s like nostalgia. This is also good for your brain.

Nancy:

Yes. It definitely fires off a lot of good receptors in your brain. It helps endorphins, because it zones you to a place where you can be focused. When you knit, you’re mindful. You have to be present to work through those stiches. It keeps you in the moment.

Margaret:

Do you think it’s better when you do multiple complex stiches? Does pushing yourself a little give your brain more exercise?

Nancy:

Definitely, yes. It keeps your brain sharp because you are having to master something that’s new or different. Working that repetitive stitch pattern that you probably have to count keeps you sharp.

Margaret:

I read an article the other day, that talked about the fact that time seems to speed up as you get older. It mentioned that you need what’s called memory markers in order to remember where time went. When you are young, you’re doing things for the first time, so they are all memorable.

For me, knitting is like that. I’m actually doing something for the first time. I’m creating a little thing that’s never been there before. You get this memory, and it stretches time a little bit.

Nancy:

I completely agree.

Margaret:

That’s really cool. So knitting helps the brain; it helps you relax; it’s like yoga. What else is there?

Nancy:

There are so many techniques that you can keep learning with knitting that it really does keep you sharp. There are over a hundred different ways to cast on; there are so many different stitch patterns and techniques. There’s a company that does a new stitch every single day, so that’s an impressive number. There are books on 300 stitch techniques or 600 stitch patterns. It’s something that you can keep learning and growing for your whole life.

Margaret:

It’s interesting that not just older people do knitting. There used to be this stereotype about grannies sitting down to knit, but knitting is really popular now with young people, too.

Nancy:

It is. It’s another way to passing on the techniques that you’ve learned to a friend, or a grandchild. It’s very rewarding because you know that you’ve passed on something that they are going to have for a lifetime.

Margaret:

I think that is the happiness quotient right there. Knitting releases stress and anxiety, but also adds all these other benefits too. Very, very cool. What is your scarf of the day?

Nancy:

This is a free pattern on our website. It’s a very easy cowl made from a fowl fur yarn that is very fluffy. It’s just a knitted tube with no purling or anything complicated. The yarn itself is a little tricky, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a first project. It could be a second or third, once you understand the stitches. Then all you do is knit until it reaches your desired length, take it off the needles and put it on.

Margaret:

You could put that around your head, couldn’t you? Like a little hood in the winter.

Nancy:

Yes, definitely.

Margaret:

Many wonderful ideas, and I’m so inspired now, I want to go knit.

Nancy:

Oh, good!

Margaret:

Thank you so much, Nancy. It was really great to have you here.

Nancy:

Thank you, Margaret. It was great.

Margaret:

Thank you, bye bye.

You can find out more about Nancy Queen and her work on her website.

Which of the benefits of knitting do you find most interesting? Have you found knitting works the same way on you? Please share your comments!

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