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Knitting and Well-being

Authors:
  • Swansea College of Art, UWTSD

Abstract and Figures

More encompassing than just the facts and figures of physical health, well-being is often used to acknowledge how we feel. The World Health Organization has defined well-being as “an ability to realize personal potential, cope with daily stresses, and contribute productively to society.” This article explores the varied ways knitting can contribute to our well-being. It brings together the authors’ individual presentations from the well-being panel at the 2012 conference “In the Loop 3: The Voices of Knitting,” now reconfigured and reordered as a coauthored paper. Opening the paper are facts and figures—the very evidence of what many of us have felt or intuited—established by Betsan Corkhill and Jill Riley in their joint contribution on the therapeutic benefits of knitting. Angela Maddock then follows, not with the stuff of scientific reason, but with its exact opposite: the symbolic contribution which knitting that is disrupted or troubled can signal in a narrative. My interest in the difficult identity of solitary knitting in literature, and the need to take stock of the current infatuation academic research holds for collaboration, now acts as the final contribution to this dialogue. The outcome is eclectic, the voices varied; but so too are the many ways to consider the contribution knitting can make to our well-being today.
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... Social sustainability in the fashion industry can only be reached by giving female workers the access to new ways of thinking and understanding, meeting and create awareness, to be able to ask themselves for better rights, while at the same time helping them to deal with the difficult conditions they have to face every day. Research [10] [6] [9] [13] claims that many of the desired results can be achieved through the action of knitting. Knitting, as much as other crafts, has historically represented the way women, through knitting circles, have been able to socialize, exchange ideas and knowledge and gain social confidence. ...
... On an individual level, knitting through some easy steps brings to the realization of personal potential, confidence, a sense of self-worth and self-esteem [9]. On a physical level, the activity of knitting has also been demonstrated to help release serotonin, contribute to the decrease of heart rate, and help the management of stress [13]. The article reports the development and results of a practicebased research that consisted in the creation of a circle entirely dedicated to women garment workers which includes knitting training, which provides the materials and tools to do it and that involves women in educational programs including sex education, politics, and law courses, and give a free space for communication. ...
... The repetitive sound created through bodily action mediate the heart rate and induce a state of calm. It's also been observed, especially by the Stitchlinks team [13], that when the brain is occupied with a background automatic task such as knitting, con-versations become easier, deeper, and more intimate. The action of knitting brings to the switching-off of self-monitoring attitudes. ...
Conference Paper
One of the biggest problems of the fashion system today are the living and working conditions of the people who manufacture clothes. 80% of those who sew clothes are women [1]. The reasons why mainly women are hired is because they are more controllable and sub-missive than men and do not have the courage to ask for more rights. They are controlled through threats, sexual and mental violence. Social sustainability in the fashion industry can only be reached by giving female workers the access to new ways of thinking and understanding, meeting and create awareness, to be able to ask themselves for better rights, while at the same time helping them to deal with the difficult conditions they have to face every day. Research [10] [6] [9] [13] claims that many of the desired results can be achieved through the action of knitting. Knitting, as much as other crafts, has historically represented the way women, through knitting circles, have been able to socialize, exchange ideas and knowledge and gain social confidence. On an individual level, knitting through some easy steps brings to the realization of personal potential, confidence, a sense of self-worth and self-esteem [9]. On a physical level, the activity of knitting has also been demonstrated to help release serotonin, contribute to the decrease of heart rate, and help the management of stress [13]. The article reports the development and results of a practicebased research that consisted in the creation of a circle entirely dedicated to women garment workers which includes knitting training, which provides the materials and tools to do it and that involves women in educational programs including sex education, politics, and law courses, and give a free space for communication. The primary research for a future development of the project has taken place in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, where many garment factories are located. Considering the sanitary emergency that occurred, through the help of WISE, a local association working for women empowerment, and Gomitolorosa, an Italian association which donated 200 balls of wool, a video training for ten Ethiopian women has been designed and the actual training took place in November 2020 at WISE headquarter. The workshop was held by eleven women, coming from different villages and different communities, religions, social status. The observed results of this primary research have been supported by qualitative data collected and analysed through structured surveys directed to trainees, trainers, and the director of WISE. Despite the differences of background, and despite not knowing each other before the start of training, the coordinators reported that trainees easily created a fairly united group of people who helped each other and that under normal conditions would not have been able to interact due to social and political restrictions. On the evidence of the reached results the article proposes a possible scenario for further development of the research by illustrating the research design of pilot actions to be held as soon as the sanitary emergency will be over. This second step will help experiment and research for a more structured knitting circle in the future, which will be addressed, in a third phase, to reach a more systemic set of educational actions that could generate a bigger positive impact on women garment workers and on the community around them, being also sustainable in the long-term.
... Behavioral and emotional engagement in turn can be facilitated by the use of web cameras, since it helps maintain mutual focus on the topic and ongoing activities (Cserző, 2021;Philp & Duchesne, 2016) and build a positive image of others (Castelli & Sarvary, 2021). Furthermore, kinesthetic movements and doing crafts, e.g., knitting, can facilitate active listening, help reduce stress and make one feel more productive and engaged (Corkhill et al., 2014;Massner, 2021). ...
... The above examples illustrate how developing routines, arranging one's physical space and performing activities in it may become important strategies for maintaining focus and engagement during synchronous sessions. Others have reported similar findings on the role of environmental factors such as the physical location and arrangement of the working space (Corkhill et al., 2014;Massner, 2021). Importantly, our analysis also highlights that in online environments, the actions that teachers cannot see but might easily interpret as multitasking or disengagement (i.e., not paying attention) can in fact have a positive impact on students' behavior, motivation and learning experience. ...
Article
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In the past two years, student engagement in online learning situations has become a mutual concern for educators all over the world. The impact of working in online environments and using video and other communication channels on students’ learning experiences is still not fully understood. The present study addresses this question by drawing on students’ written reflections and interviews from the Finnish higher education context collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. It uses the qualitative method of thematic analysis to investigate students’ experiences of interacting in synchronous sessions and their perceptions on (dis)engagement. The analysis shows the importance of versatile teaching methods and enhanced participation, the use of web cameras and anti-distraction strategies for engagement. In contrast, some aspects, such as communication issues, camera-induced self-awareness, and distractions from one’s physical and digital surroundings, pertain to disengagement. The study contributes to a better understanding of the common challenges and affordances of distributed learning environments on student engagement, but also shows individual differences in how these are perceived. The findings have implications for online teaching pedagogy and course design in general and higher education in particular.
... The programme aims to create a supportive community of peers and mentors, in which the participants can master technical skills and develop socio-emotional competences. Especially when performed in groups with peers, textile craftsmanship addresses isolation and allows people to learn and be active (Maidment & Macfarlane, 2012;Corkhill et al., 2014). This positive impact on wellbeing occurs since craft-making is a much more complex phenomenon than a mere material transformation. ...
... The next step of the project will be to move the enhanced loom to the day-care center to start a long-term weaving laboratory, also engaging diverse people from the local community. In this way, we aim to collect more information about the actual user experience involving a wider audience, and to appreciate in the medium/long term the outcomes of the textile weaving in terms of satisfaction, self-expression, motivation and social interaction enabled by the weaving laboratory (Maidment & Macfarlane, 2012;Corkhill et al., 2014;Kouhia, 2015;Pöllänen, 2015). Moreover, the weaving laboratory will be experimented as a way to preserve, transmit and promote the tangible and intangible heritage related to textile craftsmanship, by working with traditional textile patterns (i.e. ...
Article
The paper describes the design case of an accessible handweaving loom that allows people with different disabilities, including cognitive and sensorial disabilities, to weave independently, promoting self-expression and stimulating creativity. The project developed through an intense phase of prototyping activities, resulting in the re-design of a handweaving loom enhanced and transformed through rapid prototyping using digital fabrication technology. People with various types of disabilities, their caregivers and weaving experts were engaged in a series of participatory design workshops focused on eliciting requirements and desires and inspiring the design process. Throughout the project and in the attempt to integrate some automation in the weaving process, a number of issues emerged regarding how to balance flexibility and guidance to support the creative process without constraining it. The discussion of the design case offers a contribution on design for accessibility and a concrete case to reflect on the importance of supporting and stimulating self-expression and creativity in people with special needs. The paper concludes with design recommendations to accommodate needs of people with disabilities which range from functional and instrumental needs, to experiential needs including aesthetics, self-expression and creativity which are usually overlooked in accessibility guidelines.
... Brooks y colaboradores afirman que tejer en grupo ayuda a establecer una conexión con la comunidad, fomentando sentimientos de inclusión y creando oportunidades para que los artesanos y artesanas experimentados compartan conocimientos junto con personas tejedoras con diversas habilidades (14) . Aprender y enseñar técnicas de tejido se convierte entonces, en una de las razones principales de tejer en grupo (15) . ...
... As we have seen, the literature in Section 3.2 seeking to convey that handicraft production is inherently socially valuable as a result of certain qualities that make the process enjoyable generally evaluates handicraft production in a significantly different context. Some of these studies convey the social value of handicraft production when it is undertaken as a leisure activity by economically secure individuals in developed economies (Corkhill et al., 2015;Kenning, 2015). Similarly, those commentators who seek to convey the social value of their own handicraft employment operate in developed, Western economies and presumably possess the material assets to attain a satisfactory quality of life and autonomy (Crawford, 2009;Korn, 2015;Lee, 2015). ...
Thesis
In this research project I explore the relationship between luxury and social value in response to a growing argument, in both academic and marketing discourse, that luxury production can create social value, particularly in increasing the well-being of individuals and communities. Proponents of this position argue that certain common qualities of luxury production create social value, particularly in contrast to the mass manufacture of low-cost and -quality commodities that fulfil the same utilitarian purpose. I hone in on one particular facet of this argument, that as luxury production frequently involves handicraft technique, it creates social value for the producer as an enjoyable process. However this line of argument lacks empirical grounding and critical engagement with the complexity of social value creation. In order to explore the potential for luxury production involving handicraft technique to create social value, I undertook an in-depth, mixed methodology case study of Barefoot, a handloom weaving social enterprise in Sri Lanka. A prestigious brand name in Sri Lanka, Barefoot produces luxury commodities for the local market alongside a significant export market. In operating as a social enterprise, the company primarily intends to create social value in improving the well-being of employees, many of whom are women in rural Sri Lankan communities. Barefoot was selected as an appropriate case study for this thesis due to the fact that it purposefully utilises and has retained handicraft production for this purpose. The data set confirms that luxury production at Barefoot improves the wellbeing of employees, and thus creates social value, in two crucial ways: firstly, as a means of nurturing economic security that can subsequently improve well-being; and, secondly, in utilising handicraft production to ensure that the process of labour is enjoyable. However, the data set also demonstrates the importance of Barefoot’s commitment to operate as a social enterprise, in that if Barefoot were not operating in this way, its potential to create social value would be significantly reduced. In light of these findings, I propose the term ‘precious’, rather than luxurious, as a potential way to conceptualise the product of social enterprise in the luxury sector. This concept is intended to differentiate the product of instances of purpose-driven luxury production, such as Barefoot, from traditional profit-driven activity that may unintentionally create social value in ultimately marginal ways.
... Research into the relationship between leisure activities such as arts and craft activities and links to wellbeing particularly in older people has gained traction over several decades (Burt & Atkinson, 2012;Collier & Wayment, 2018;Corkhill et al., 2014;Gandolfo & Grace, 2010, Pöllänen, 2015a, 2015bRiley et al., 2013). The association between wellbeing and craft activities points to a complex interplay of factors, such as the allencompassing aspects of crafting, learning materials and techniques and the sense of accomplishment and recognition by others that is gained through creating objects (Gandolfo & Grace, 2010). ...
Article
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Crafting has occupied the hands and minds of women over many centuries providing vital connections with cultural skills and with community. While the COVID-19 pandemic has isolated women in their homes, it has also provided opportunities for women to reconnect to crafting through virtual spaces. This paper draws on a thematic analysis of a focus group interview examining the experiences of regional women participating in a crafting group and identifies the ways in which they used craft to support their wellbeing. Drawing on the concept of therapeutic landscapes, the paper highlights that connection in a virtual craft group supports lifelong learning and wellbeing, brings women together in support through a community of women's practice and facilitates opportunities for producing meaningful and commemorative quilting projects This finding has implications for a society experiencing unprecedented levels of stress, mental illness and anxiety about the future. A gendered therapeutic learning landscape: Responding creatively to a pandemic 9
... Most of the artisans/ weavers employed are from the weaker section of the society and carpet weaving/knotting provides extra and alternate occupation to them leading to balance regional growth (Bano 2015;Hosseinnia and Shoja 2017). Corkhill et al. (2014) found that carpet weaving/knitting can contribute to the personal and social wellbeing of individuals. ...
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The Indian carpet industry has great potential in the economic development of the nation. This agri-based, unorganized sector employs millions of skilled and unskilled labors and acts as a source for their livelihood. The present study provides an overview of the impact of Covid-19 on the Indian carpet industry, discusses the export performance and vulnerabilities of the workers employed, identify certain export market strategies for the overall prosperity of the carpet industry. The Indian carpet industry has to pay a heavy price in the lockdown and the condition of the carpet industry is still deplorable. The sluggish demand for carpet across developed nations, closure of the production centers followed by phased lockdowns in the country and the migration of skilled labors/weavers added to its woes. The carpet industry is experiencing a tough time and it is evident with an abrupt decline in the export volumes and values of trade. To develop a strategic policy and provide job security to the workers employed in precarious jobs is the need of the hour.
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In her 2008 novel The Knitting Circle, American writer Ann Hood identifies knitting as a form of prayer, with every stitch connecting her to her deceased daughter. In 2016, a Rotterdam-based knitting icon, Loes Veenstra, passed away. For many years, Veenstra knitted hundreds of jumpers that were not intended to be worn. She knitted solely to fight her smoking addiction. In 2010, hundreds of Peruvian women knitted together in a square in Ayacucho to commemorate their missing relatives, whose fate had remained unknown since the civil war in the 1980s and 1990s. The scarf they created served as a symbolic grave because these women knew that their relatives would probably never get a real one. The written and spoken testimonies of these women as well as the knitted objects reveal the significance of knitting as a remedy. This creative endeavour practiced in daily life becomes a remedy when it is the only activity that women want or are able to undertake while experiencing grief, trauma or addiction. Knitting is a cure for women who have no other recourse to action within their social or cultural circumstances. These case studies illustrate how being creative (as a woman) in daily life can be beneficial in difficult times.
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In the latter years of the twentieth century, the social relevance of the leisure field diminished as consumption and individualism came to dominate leisure and recreation research and praxis across modern democratic nations. A consequence of this focus in leisure studies has been a neglect of community and the common good. Now, at the commencement of the twenty-first century, three interrelated crises become increasingly apparent - the crisis of identity or self, a social crisis, and a political crisis. If leisure studies is to contribute to an attempt to address these crises and rebuild community, how might this happen without returning to the norms, duties and traditional structures that have oppressed and marginalized citizens? In this paper the notion of social capital is used to examine community structures and their potential contribution to social cohesion, trust, mutuality, co-operation and openness. The challenge is to develop a concept of community that can provide spaces for the social self and civic engagement to emerge. The paper explores the role of leisure practices in this pursuit. Central to the discussion is Borgmann's notion of focal practices - those pursuits which bring an engagement of mind and body and a centring power - and the way in which such practices create shared meaning and communities of celebration. Participation in communities of celebration entails people coming together in sports, festivals, hobbies, volunteering, and the arts, and finding in these leisure activities common and public goods. This communitarian conceptualization of leisure stands in stark contrast to the privatization of leisure that has become commonplace in recent decades.
Article
Introduction There is increasing evidence that engaging in creative and meaningful occupation can impact positively on health and wellbeing. Much of the research in this area has concentrated on general occupational categories and less is known about the benefits of specific occupations. This study aimed to identify the benefits of knitting for individuals' personal and social wellbeing as a prerequisite to investigating its therapeutic use. Method An online survey was conducted through an internet knitting site. Responses were received from 3,545 knitters worldwide. Quantitative data were analysed statistically to establish relationships and differences among variables and qualitative data for key themes. Results Respondents came from a virtual community of knitters. The majority were female white adults and frequent knitters, who commonly reported knitting for relaxation, stress relief and creativity. The results show a significant relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm and happy. More frequent knitters also reported higher cognitive functioning. Knitting in a group impacted significantly on perceived happiness, improved social contact and communication with others. Conclusion Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to wellbeing and quality of life. As a skilled and creative occupation, it has therapeutic potential — an area requiring further research.
Chapter
This chapter covers key elements of the fashion process from the initial inspiration to the final product. It explains what influences fashion, the means by which that happens, the role of the consumer and the retailer in the fashion cycle and how new fashion is disseminated. The role of fashion designers in creating new fashion is considered, as is the impact of global issues such as sustainability and ethics. The impact of new technology on the fashion system is considered in the context of design and e-commerce. The case studies explore different fashion perspectives and how the impact of e-tailers is changing the fashion retail landscape.
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We discuss the emergence of a new craft movement known as Stitch'nBitch. Prevalent around the globe, particularly among women, this movement is based locally in places such as hotels and cafes, and virtually using the internet. The women meet to knit, stitch and talk. The groups use new technologies as an enabler and resource exchange. At the same time, their presence can be seen, in part, as a negative response to major political, social and technological changes including globalization, terrorism, damage to the environment and the dislocation of the Information Society. We introduce five themes to assist in the development of a research agenda into this new form of material culture, discussing (1) remedial, (2) progressive, (3) resistance, (4) nostalgic and (5) ironic possibilities. Each is considered in terms of their respective foci on community, cyberfeminism, craft, conservation and comment.