When the average person thinks of knitting, they might picture an elderly female making a scarf or baby booties with fine yarn. But crafters all across the globe are hoping to change that stereotype with the growing popularity of World Wide Knit in Public Day on June 10.
First organized in 2005, the day was designed to bring the fiber arts out of the homestead and into the public eye. In its first year, 25 different locations served as public hubs where crafters could come together to knit or crochet. Now, there are hundreds of different locations all around the world.
Elizabeth Fallone, owner of Eliza’s Buttons and Yarn in Barrie, Ontario, tells Barrie Today of the event, “Knit in Public Day is really about showing the general public that knitting can be a community activity. We have a knit night every week at the store and attract all types of knitters; women, men, young, old, beginners, advanced. It’s a time and place for everyone to get social and share their knitting, and maybe even learn something new.”
Not only can knitting be a way to bond with others who share a passion, but 65% of knitters say they participate because they can be creative. Around 44% say they knit because of the sense of accomplishment they experience, and 51% say they simply enjoy making things for others.
Aside from those social and emotional benefits, many crafters say that the fiber arts have restorative qualities when it comes to the physical body. Knitting is cited as a stress-reliever for many people, which can be key for reducing physical tension. While just viewing pieces of art in a gallery for 35 minutes can reduce levels of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) in the brain, actually producing that art can have an even more pronounced effect on stress. Studies have also been conducted on the positive effects of knitting on arthritis pain, as well as chronic pain awareness and cognitive decline.
The benefits are hardly limited to the over-60 crowd. Younger generations are starting to pick up the craft, and even local organizers are amazed by the variety of knitters and crocheters they see.
“They span gender, social, economic and all lines,” says Fallone. “People who would never get together otherwise are drawn to each other over the love of knitting and creating.”
Many locations encourage participants to bring their own lawn chairs, snacks, and projects. Knitters can check out the official World Wide Knitting in Public Day website to find a location near them or register a new one.
Organizers hope to help crafters shake off the stigma and connect with others in the community. As the website explains:
Knitting is such a solitary act that it’s easy to knit alone somewhere and sink into your work without thinking about all the other knitters out there. Neighbors could spend all their lives never knowing that the other knits. This a specific day to get out of your house and go to a local event (with your knitting in tow) just for you and people like you. Who knows, you might even bump into your neighbor! Consider this a spark, to ignite a fire; getting all of the closeted knitters out into fresh air.