Busy Hands, Quiet Mind: Knitting and Crocheting as Both Meditation and Distraction

There are many ways of dealing with stress. Exercise, distracting yourself with television or video games, eating your favorite ice cream, or snuggling with your pet are all good examples of coping mechanisms you may have used over the last few months as our world spun off its axis into this new reality that is the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, yarn crafts, specifically knitting and crochet, are not just my favorite hobbies but my go-to stressbusters. Sitting down to knit or crochet can be a way to distract myself and calm my mind so that I can relieve some of the stress of these crazy times.

In case you aren’t familiar with these crafts, they both involve yarn and either two needles (knitting) or a hook (crochet). In this photo, you can see a small piece of crochet done in yellow yarn with a green hook on the right; the piece on the left is knitted, and you can see the two needles stuck in the ball of light blue yarn.


You can create lots of cool objects with knitting and crochet, including clothing and accessories, home décor, toys and more. I am currently addicted to knitting shawls,


 but I’ve also done some fun things like crocheting this dragon: 


But the final product is only part of the joy of making; there is also joy and comfort in the process. I can use the actions of knitting or crocheting as a mindfulness practice. I’m not worrying about all the things going on in my life and in the world if I’m focused on knitting the right number of stitches or crocheting the proper pattern. If I know I have to knit twelve stitches before I do a purl stitch, then all I have to be concerned with is counting to twelve, not all the other things that might otherwise be weighing on my mind.

There is something very soothing in repeating the same physical motion over and over as I work the yarn with my needles or hook. The rhythm and the counting can become something almost like a mantra. The repetition brings comfort. Even making a mistake isn’t that big of a deal. “Gosh, I dropped a stitch!” With so many things going on that I can’t control, it’s indescribably satisfying to know that a dropped stitch is something I can fix!

It can also be a comforting distraction to learn something new. Like other crafts, there are endless techniques, approaches, styles and lore to learn about knitting and crochet. Every new project brings an opportunity to learn a new skill or perfect an old one; within a single project there are multiple techniques to practice, like the ribbing that goes on the bottom of a stockinette sweater, or the use of several completely different stitch patterns in the same shawl.


Learning new things gives a feeling of accomplishment that is fulfilling and encouraging at the same time.

But wait, there’s more! There are all the different types of yarn to learn about, and all the colors to play with! Experimenting with color combinations and feasting your eyes on the rainbow of possibilities is its own kind of therapy. These are a few of the colors from my yarn stash:


I didn’t approach learning to knit and crochet with the idea that these activities would help teach me mindfulness, be a relaxation practice or sharpen my mind. I just wanted something crafty to do. The meditative aspect of it was a bonus that has become an important part of my life. So, if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I encourage you to look for a craft or hobby you think you might enjoy and dive in! There are so many great tutorials for different hobbies on YouTube. In fact, that’s how I learned how to knit and crochet! You may find not just enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment but also some much-needed comfort and peace of mind.