Stitching through flares.

Stitching Through Flares

Last updated: June 2018

One of the highlights of my week is attending my local knitting group. No matter how I’m feeling I emerge from a few hours with fellow knitters with a smile on my face and usually a few more rows of forward progress on the project at hand. I recently borrowed a book from my local library Knit for Health & Wellness by Bestan Corkhill. I eagerly flipped through the pages, happily confirming that in moderation knitting had many positive effects. As an avid knitter, the book provided justification for an already favored pastime.

Corkhill’s background in physical therapy, lead her to focus primarily on benefits for those with limited mobility or chronic pain. She explores benefits for those who have good health as well. In terms of physical ability, I found her suggestions for those who are in good health most helpful. I have the physical stamina to knit for several hours without pain. The mental health benefits discussed in the book left me sitting with the “ill” folks. I feel like this mirrors much of my experience with asthma. I sit somewhere between sick and well. Corkhill has clearly taken a deep dive into knitting and really quantified some of the common knowledge.

Elder knitters have long counseled me to keep social knitting, anti-social knitting, and semi-social knitting projects going at the same time. This aligns well with the concept of an automatic easy project, an intricate project to distract you from symptoms, and a novelty project to learn new things.1

Distracting the mind from my asthma

I am known to knit lace or other charted patterns just as the author suggests to distract my mind from symptoms of my illness.1 I don’t have to provide further explanation than “Oh I was in the middle of a lace chart” to account for missing a regular knit night. It gives me the autonomy to omit that I was also coughing and not feeling up to leaving the couch.

My knitting buddies genuinely care and would empathetically listen to me describe my asthma difficulties. I just don’t always care to share.
“Knitting is an activity which many people find they CAN do even when they feel unable to do anything else. The benefit of being successful at something is very powerful.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! Even on days when I barely make it through a row due to ventowobbles (shaky hands from albuterol) and I doze off on the couch. I have some tangible progress to show for being home sick on the couch beside an empty streaming video queue.
I can easily click away at a fairly complicated project because I have been knitting since I was a teenager. I know that I might not get as much peace from a lace project if I were new to knitting. Even with all these years of knitting under my belt, I still end up making mistakes when I’m not feeling well.
If you’ll excuse me it’s time for some “bilateral rhythmic psychosocial intervention”1 or colloquially "stitch ‘n b*tch". Do you find knitting or another craft helpful in coping with asthma difficulties?


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