Do Knit Disturb
You know the old adage, that in the event of needing to use oxygen masks on an aeroplane parents must put their own one on first before putting one on their child - it's the same with all of us.
In order to look after the planet, we must first look after ourselves.
In the present climate emergency it would be easy to feel overwhelmed. We read the headlines and listen to the news and feel really worried about the future of our planet and for our children and grandchildren.
Climate Anxiety is real. It is described by the American Psychological Association as "a chronic fear of environmental doom" and as "a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis."
Add to that the current anxiety around the pandemic and you can see why people might feel they are tipping over the edge.
At times like this, when we need to calm ourselves, our hobbies become ever more important. Doing something we enjoy, whether we are already quite accomplished, or are learning something new, can make us feel in control. And that's important if you feel so much is out of your control.
Did the title give us away? Have you guessed that when we want to calm ourselves we reach for our knitting needles and wool?
We have in the past been involved in knitting groups where the tongues click just as fast at the needles, and that social aspect was great. But knitting is one of those things you can easily do on your own and still get a great sense of satisfaction.
And - yes - not only is it something we enjoy for its own sake, it is also good for the planet. Wool is a natural product and is one of the most sustainable sources of clothing - though, as we will go on to show you, we don't only knit clothing!
Here's the science.
Wool is a protein that grows from the skin of sheep, goats and other animals.
Sheep are typically shorn once a year, in the springtime. When shorn correctly, their fleece comes off in a single piece and the animal emerges completely unharmed. The fleece re-grows every year, making it completely sustainable.
So now we know how good wool - and by extension, knitting - is for the planet, how good is it for us humans?
Very good is the answer. There is substantial evidence that suggests knitting is beneficial to a healthy mind and body. It has been shows to aid relaxation and alleviate stress. It slows the onset of dementia and distracts from chronic pain.
And ignore those who would tell you that knitting is only for old ladies. That well-worn cliche is very outdated. We know so many young people who have taken up their needles and wool.
In fact, it was a conversation with one of our student volunteers that led to us finding out more. She confirms that knitting has a great calming effect on her. During the first lockdown she unearthed a stash of wool at her parents' house and created wonderful items. We are well impressed with her makes.
Nothing fuddy-duddy about those!
We did some knitting for the home
Our knitted coat hanger covers - they made a surprise appearance at our Community Wardrobe, when we made them into a 'Christmas tree'. Versatility is very sustainable! No need to buy anything new when you can re-purpose what you already have.
During the last few months we received requests from the family for knitted cushion covers, hot water bottle covers and even a knitted footstool. Guess they wanted to hibernate in comfort and style.
Giving away something that you have knitted is such a lovely thing to do. Surely, the recipient knows how much thought went into every stitch.
Maybe you would love to knit but don't really have a reason to do so. After all, there's no point knitting every evening but not knowing what to do with the finished results. No matter how much you enjoy the actual knitting.
If that's you, stay right where you are. There are many charities that need knitted items, from blanket squares (a great way to start knitting) to twiddle muffs, toys, hats and baby clothes.
We just love Police Scotland's Trauma Teddies.
The initiative began here in Dundee and has since spread across Scotland. Police officers give a trauma teddy to a child who needs to be distracted in any upsetting circumstances. The teddies help the police offers to build a relationship with the child and turn their experience into a more positive one.
The teddies are also given out by the Scottish Ambulance Service and by NHS trusts. I think we can all imagine how much a frightened child would appreciate their own little hand-knitted teddy. Their new little friend helps the children to feel safe throughout the confusing events in which they may find themselves.
They are very easy to knit and can be made with small scraps you have left over from other projects. If this is something you would like to make, you can find the pattern here.
If you would like to knit for a charity, head over to the Knit for Life website. They have an up-to-date list of charities throughout the country that will be delighted to receive your handiwork. Many of the projects use very little wool and require only basic knitting or crocheting skills, so it's a great way to improve your proficiency.