Cowley: Knitting is Self-Care


Sarah Karr

Cynthia Mills, owner of Blazing Needles in Salt Lake City, Utah, takes a moment away from customers to stand with a yarn display on Nov. 23, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Karr | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Elle Cowley, Multimedia Managing Editor


For months during the pandemic, I stayed inside, having no physical interactions with anyone outside my immediate family. I decided it was time to get a hobby, so I picked up knitting a couple of months in. I ordered a sock knitting kit off of Etsy and got to work. I had nothing but time to sit and knit. I dropped a stitch more times than I can count and did parts of the patterns wrong. But eventually, I produced my first pair of socks. During a time when it felt hard to feel motivated to do anything, knitting brought me solace.

Even now, having a “self-care” hobby has helped me destress and create a more harmonious balance between work, school and life.

Self-Care and Knitting

Surprising to no one, taking time for yourself is important. In modern times, it can often feel impossible to take care of your mental health. However, even the little hobbies help people stay relaxed and happier. Having hobbies can also foster a sense of community. I know that the Salt Lake City area has a surplus of knitting groups. Every time I have entered knitting spaces, I’ve noticed an immediate sense of togetherness. That sense of community can be so important, especially in times of high stress. Walking into a yarn shop, everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful. Employee or not, someone will help you pick the right yarn or needles for a project. Studies have shown that knitting as a hobby creates a greater sense of communal wellbeing, as well as a creative outlet. Digital spaces also offer a space to discuss projects and foster community.

Taking up a hobby like knitting helps you slow down and take a step back from sources of stress. Knitting is a big part of the slow fashion movement, which is all about taking time to create clothing that will last a lifetime. A big value of knitting lies in slowing down and creating handmade things. Finding that time to do something not academic or work related can feel like a difficult task. For me, taking a knit project step by step with no deadline feels freeing.

Grind Culture and Burnout

In America at least, there is a constant pressure to do something productive. In the current trend of “grind culture,” if your calendar isn’t full 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then you aren’t working hard enough. I have seen people on social media brag about not having any time to themselves. For a long time, I bought into this mindset. On days off of work, I felt a sense of guilt. I thought the only thing in life post-education was long workdays and nothing else. Having a life outside of work seemed like an impossible task. It’s incredibly hard to break the cycle of capitalism-fueled grind culture. Knitting forced me to slow down and reflect on what truly brings me joy and happiness.

Working in journalism has many rewards, but can be incredibly demanding. It’s easy to get burnt out in an environment with tight deadlines and heavy topics to cover. I love my work and I love to write, but finding the energy to write creatively after doing nothing but write all day is a struggle. Knitting forces me to take a break from my screen, giving me a breath of fresh air during times of high stress. Incorporating 30-minute breaks to knit into my schedule when I’m working helps me come back to my tasks refreshed and much less stressed.


I have knitted almost every day for three years now. I’ll always keep a project in my school bag to have something to work on. This year I made it my goal to knit all of my Christmas presents for my family. Having a project away from work or school has ultimately helped me take more time for myself, and getting a new piece of clothing or an accessory at the other end is just a bonus. In a culture where constantly working is encouraged, it can be so hard to remember to take time for yourself. Knitting offers me and many others the space to have a creative outlet that makes us slow down and take a much-needed breath.


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