By Barbara Cervoni, Support Connection, Inc.
Everyone knows that handmade items such as gloves, scarves, sweaters and afghans provide warmth against the cold winter air. But the act of creating them, especially in the company of others, is a sure way to warm the heart and soul. It’s also a perfect way to push worries away for a bit by focusing your mind on the positive act of creating something beautiful.
That’s why we offer a monthly knitting circle. It’s a place of comfort and respite for the ladies who come together to share their love of yarn and colors. In addition to working on beloved projects and learning tips or techniques from one another, they also enjoy the benefit of time spent with other women who’ve heard the words “you have cancer.”
Busy Hands, Calm Minds
In 2013, the British Journal of Occupational Therapy published a study titled “The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood.” Authors Jill Riley, Betsan Corkhill, Claire Morris conducted an online survey with more than 3,000 knitters worldwide. Among other findings, the study confirmed their belief that knitting enhances a person’s well-being: “The results show a significant relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm and happy.”
Lois, who has attended our knitting circle for years, explains how knitting does this for her:
“After all the tests…the diagnosis… the surgery… the chemo and/or radiation treatments… supported by family and friends…. we reach out for our ‘security blanket’ otherwise known as knitting needles (or crochet hooks). For many of us, the familiar feel and motion not only relieves our stress but also provides a focus on something other than this miserable disease.
Very often working on several projects at the same time (usually not for ourselves), and to insure we get it right, we need to concentrate on style, size, color, type of yarn, materials, etc. This forces us to concentrate on the task at hand and tap into our skills and creativity.”
A Different Kind of Support
The study noted above also investigated the effects of knitting in a group. The authors hypothesized that this might offer added advantages, and the results proved them right: “Knitting in a group impacted significantly on perceived happiness, improved social contact and communication with others.”
At Support Connection we know there’s no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to support. Some people feel most comfortable speaking one-on-one with our Peer Counselors. Others attend monthly support groups where the sole purpose is to talk with a group of women who’ve walked in shoes like yours. Sometimes, it’s easier to spend time with others engaging in a common activity, knowing that everyone else in the room has also had cancer.
Lois finds knitting circle to be the perfect form of support for her: “When we meet together in our group every month, we not only share our talents and tips, but also ourselves, and our belief and support of each other.” Carol, another longtime member, agrees: “I enjoy knitting circle because it’s a chance to talk and share with others. We discuss knitting/crocheting, yarn, stitches, and patterns. But we also share our cancer experiences in a more relaxed and fun setting than sitting around a table.”
The leader of our knitting circle, Nancy Horsey, is a breast cancer survivor who has also volunteered as a support group facilitator for us for many years. She feels firmly that the circle is an excellent source of support: “Knitting circle is so much more than knitting or crocheting. It’s a way for women with cancer to be creative while sharing their experiences, reduce stress and be around others.”
No Experience Necessary
One of the wonderful things about our knitting circle is that you needn’t be an experienced crafter to reap the benefits. Beginners (or “neophytes” as Lois calls them) are also welcome. We supply the yarn and needles. How-to’s and coaching are supplied by the other women and by our volunteer facilitator Nancy, who is an avid knitter and crocheter and is happy to teach anyone who wishes to learn.
Nancy says: “Although the name of the group says ‘knitting,’ you don’t need to know how to knit to come. We’ll teach you! Also, crocheters and all types of ‘needlers’ are welcome!”
Carol is one of the experienced group members who’s also happy to share her expertise with others: “Recently I broke my wrist and couldn’t crochet. But I decided to go to the circle that month anyway, because there were two new people coming who wanted to learn. And, I enjoy the ladies.”
Whether you’ve been knitting or crocheting for years… are thinking of resurrecting a hobby from the past… or would like to try something new…. there’s room for you in our knitting circle! To learn more or to register, call us: 914-962-6402 or 800-532-4290. We look forward to welcoming you!