Friday, November 28, 2008

recovery without knitting? how dare you.

When I was 7, my gramma taught me how to knit. I had little half-completed projects hanging off needles all over the house. I didn't have the attention span for the length of a scarf, let alone anything much more involved. Little did I know that this skill would play a huge role in my treatment from a life I wouldn't even see coming for another 11 years.

I always joke that recovery isn't possible without knowing how to knit. If you don't know how, don't worry, you can still recover from an eating disorder. That doesn't mean I don't highly recommend learning, though! Every treatment program I went through, most everyone was knitting or crocheting. There was even a boy when I was on Alcott who really wanted to learn because everyone else was doing it, so a few girls taught him. He spent the rest of his stay on the EDU knitting with extra yarn and two pencils. How no one had a spare set of needles for the poor boy is beyond me.

There's something amazing about knitting to me; it is the one and only activity in my entire life that I can do and not pay attention to it. I can keep my hands busy and pay full attention to other things going on around me and, above all else, not be anal about it. Mistakes and slipped stitches make it "all the more special" and counting rows takes the fun out. For really intricate patterns, I'll write them down so I don't have to keep thinking about it, but for the most part, I just go with it. That's sort of a huge deal for me considering how I beat myself up for everything else I do, from my artwork to washing the dishes correctly.
It also calms my anxiety which, in turn, calms one of my worst OCD habits. By keeping my hands busy, I can't use one of my worst behaviors. That was also a great excuse to be allowed to knit during groups.

Today, I stumbled over a really cute blog run by a group of recovered / recovering knitters. They have chosen to take their skill and use it to encourage recovery in a really adorable way. I love what they're doing and I would love to get involved with a project like this. Check out their blog here.

So, here's a little audience participation for ya:


Ai Lu said...

I love this post! I have been an avid knitter since childhood, but in recovery it took on a whole new meaning as it became a very natural way to sooth myself and to center myself, when my mind and my body just wanted to say "Let's get out of here." I am surprised, in some ways, that it is not more widely touted as an aid in recovering from EDs (and, perhaps, other addictions).
Ai Lu

rerobbi said...


emmy. said...

first of all, mom, I KNOW!! :D i KNEW you'd love them.

second, ai lu, i feel the exact same way. i can't believe there's no like, "knitting therapy" group in treatment. maybe *that's* what i should start working on ;)

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I never went inpatient, but I never took up knitting. However, I did have a phase in my early recovery where I was into making bracelets. Same idea, different outlet, I guess. :)

Angel said...

Yup, I learned how to knit last year when I was in an in-patient treatment program. All I ever knit are scarfs, but it is very calming, and keeps me present when I really feel like jumping out of my skin.

Tiptoe said...

I've never knitted though used to find my mom's crocheting pretty interesting. It's on my list to learn someday.

My outlet used to be coloring and jigsaw puzzles. Not exactly related to knitting but de-stressed me.

Anonymous said...

A lot of days I feel that recovery is a little like trying to knit a sweater out of fog. Does that count?

Lola x

Bethany said...

wow. thanks for your post! I agree with you complexity. Knitting has played such a HUGE part in my recovery.

Oddly enough, when I was IP for my anorexia, i wasn't allowed to knit on the unit. It was a total shock to my system. Me, Not able to knit? I wouldn't have it. Knitting has become a coping tool for me. Something I do to calm myself. So it was really difficult for me to be IP and not be aloud to do the one healthy coping method i know!

Anyways, thanks for this blog and for featuring my cause in it :). We have two new request because of this blog. and while it saddens me still that they need exists, I'm happy to be able to help in any way I can. Esp if it involves knitting :P

God bless,

Betty Bundgaard said...

I was researching knitting/crocheting in recovery processes and stumbled upon this blog, in trying to find evidence for my thesis.
I've since found a lot of other indications for the benefit of this activity.
I'm hoping to help bring awereness to this as well as you're doing here.
Thank you for your in-put.
B. Bundgaard, University of Paedagogics, Copenhagen.

Miranda Stahl said...

Haha! Then if that can help while one is inside bulimia treatment center then why not?!