Contributed by Beatrice Obetoh
Sometime in 2015, I thought about how to bring the community into Richmond Social Network (RSN). This was how the idea to start a Knitting Club began. From the start, the goal for the Knitting Club was to encourage the community into our Richmond Social Network (RSN) by building friendships between our persons served and members of the community, by giving back to others, as well as in creating a place for community members to feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging.
The Knitting Club has created a great opportunity for persons served and community members to come together every Monday from 10 am to 12 noon to connect with one another. We now have seven community members that attend the Knitting Club regularly who contribute greatly to the club.
Recently, when Betty lost her husband, the club was one of the places she turned to for support. In fact, she said that the group helped her to focus on things that would benefit others; Betty feels that spending time at the club lifts her spirits because she is doing something that she loves and helps others.
The Knitting Club has brought out hidden talents in several individuals they didn’t know they had. For some of the members, this was their first time knitting and they initially did not want to participate because they felt they couldn’t do it. However, after much encouragement and hard work, they are now learning how to knit scarves, toques, and more. Their skill level has developed to the point that they are knitting for their family members and for sale. Some of the persons served knitted items for the recent INCLUSION Art Show in October 2016, and one of them sold all her knitted items during the Art Show!
In the spirit of giving back to others, the Knitting Club decided to start a winter project with the goal of knitting scarves, toques, gloves, blankets, etc. for the homeless and those receiving services through the BC Cancer Agency. In April 2016, the club applied for and obtained a grant from the Neighbourhood Small Grants. This grant enabled us to purchase looms and yarns for the knitting for the winter project and produce over 105 items – scarves, blankets, toques, socks, booties and more are in the works!
On November 21, 2016, the Knitting Club visited the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter and presented toques and scarves to them. I am so pleased to add that during our visit to the Salvation Army Shelter, Bev, who is one of the community members of the club, connected with the Shelter Manager regarding an accommodation for the grandson at the shelter. This wonderful connection could go a long way to benefit both Bev and the family! The Knitting Club visited the BC Cancer Agency on November 23 to with the products of their winter project for distribution to individuals accessing their services. They also donated knitted items from their project to the Richmond Drop-in Centre for the homeless.
Thus, the Knitting Club has created a forum for persons served and community members to connect and develop asupport group based on friendship and a mutual passion for knitting. They identified the need for warm clothing in the community and responded by working collaboratively to give back.
Fun Facts about Knitting
- It gives a sense of pride
Not a lot of people know how to knit. Showing off something you’ve knitted to someone who has no idea how you managed it is like showing off some sort of new trick. There is a great sense of pride and joy in each individual whenever they complete a project.
- It alleviates symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression
It has been said that a significant number of knitters do so because it offers stress relief. Knitting also activates the brain’s reward centers to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is sometimes described as a “natural antidepressant.” Knitting in a group was associated with greater perceived happiness and improved social contact and communication with others, the latter of which is also linked to improved mood and brain health. The rhythmic motions and sense of focus can induce feelings of cam and happiness, helping to distract from symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Sitting still to knit reduces heart rate and lowers blood pressure after a few minutes.
- It helps improve motor functions
Because knitting stimulates almost the whole brain at once—“the frontal lobe (which guides rewards processing, attention and planning), the parietal lobe (which handles sensory information and spatial navigation), the occipital lobe (which processes visual information), the temporal lobe (which is involved in storing memories and interpreting language and meaning) and the cerebellum (which coordinates precision and timing of movement)”—it can be used to help people with diseases like Parkinson’s improve their motor functions. It helps improve fine motor skills and distracts from other painful symptoms.
- It slows cognitive decline
While it’s helping to improve motor function and mood, knitting is also stimulating the brain to keep it healthy. The more the brain is used, the healthier it becomes, and the longer it lasts. Per the Mayo Clinic, seniors who engage in crafts (including knitting) are about 30-50% less likely to have a “mild cognitive impairment” than those who don’t.
- It helps prevent arthritis
Just like one must use their brain to keep it healthy, there is a need to use the joints to keep them healthy as well. Per Barron, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, “gently using the fingers builds up their cartilage, making it stronger, instead of wearing it down”. “If you let a joint sit, not only will it get stiff, but the actual cartilage will lose its structural integrity and break down”. “Most of us grow up thinking the more you use something the more it wears out, but that’s not the case with cartilage.” Knitting is better than typing, which doesn’t put strain on the fingers, and it isn’t so strenuous that it’ll develop other problems down the road.
Read more here.
Now that you know all about the health benefits of knitting, why not join us on Mondays at 140 – 5711 No. 3 Road, Richmond, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and knit your way to better health? It’s free! Just bring your yarn.
Interested in joining? Email [email protected] or call 604-275-0961 Ext 21 or 22.
RSN Knitting Club is grateful to staff members Vicky Albarracin for taking the lead role in teaching others how to knit, and to the Managers Amy Chang and Caroline Dagg for their support. Kudos to the participants at RSN and community members of the club who all worked very hard to make the project a great success.
Source: Benefits – http://www.lifehack.org