Antje Karl has friends that she made on knitting forums 15 years ago (Photo by Julia Becker)
The knitting community is growing, particularly since COVID-19. The crafty hobby wasn’t only a pastime for people during the lockdowns – it still enjoys popularity now. Knitting shop owner Antje Karl and students Juliane Kloidt and Victoria Fernandez talk about the positive side effects of their shared hobby and how it can impact people’s mental health.
Last Saturday was a special day for knitters. It marked World Wide Knit in Public Day and many knitters got out their yarn and needles to celebrate the special hobby. Despite what people may expect, the knitting community is very diverse and many new people have joined since COVID-19.
A famous example is diving champion Tom Daley. He picked up knitting during lockdown and now inspires over a million people on his Instagram account @madewithlovebytomdaley. Tom started his crafty hobby as a way to pass the time but just like many other people, he discovered its calming effects which help him relax.
The knitting community connects online and at events (Photo by Julia Becker)
It all started as a lockdown hobby
Fellow knitting enthusiast Victoria Fernandez enjoys watching Tom Daley’s content. Just like Tom, the 23-year-old was inspired to knit during lockdown. Being left-handed, she found it to be a great challenge at the start, but she kept going because she enjoyed watching knitting videos as it helped her to relax.
Like Victoria, the 24-year-old student Juliane Kloidt also found her way into knitting during COVID-19. Back then she was studying online and started knitting out of boredom. Now, her life picked up again and she has integrated her lockdown hobby into her everyday life. You can find her knitting on public transport, during lectures and when she is on the phone to her friends.
Knitting socks is self-care for students
Antje Karl also loves knitting. She loves it so much that she has opened her own shop, called ‘The Yarn Cake’. The 47-year-old discovered knitting for herself nearly 20 years ago and now sells coulourful yarn in her shop in Glasgow.
Every day, Antje witnesses how knitting brings happiness to her customers and how it can even be a form of self-care for many, including stressed university students. She said: “I think because our shop used to be close to the university, we’ve always had quite a few students coming in, especially people at Masters or Ph.D. level who are having quite a stressful time. So, they come and join the local knitting group or hang out in the local yarn shop. Just to relax and not be hyper-focused on whatever they’re doing academically at the time.”
Antje Karl, Juliane Kloidt and Victoria Fernandez share their experience with knitting (Video by Julia Becker)
The knitting community spreads across all generations
Juliane agrees that knitting can be a vehicle to unwind. She shared: “When I started it, I was like ‘oh, no, I’m going to become a grandma.’ But then I made so many friends and met people my age who are also into it. Of course, you have the traditional knitters, like the mums and the grandmas. But I think especially online, there’s a lot of crafty influences who inspire younger generations.”
In her shop, Antje hosts regular knitting events and enjoys bringing all generations together. She said: “What’s nice with the in-person sessions is that you’ve got this crazy mix of people that have something in common. They all get on but they’re not really people that would ever connect in any other situation.”
Customers can enjoy coffee and cake while they knit (Photo by Julia Becker)
Is it a knitting session or a therapy session?
Antje’s knitting events are open to everyone and are known to be a safe space. People don’t only come to knit – they also have a chat and exchange over a cup of tea. Antje said: “So many people come in just to unwind. It just takes you out of whatever is getting to you. You come in and get a community and you can relax.”
As someone who is very open to talking about all kinds of topics including mental health, Antje is happy that many people who come to her events can open up and talk about whatever is on their mind that day. She said: “The friendships that form are amazing. It sometimes feels like a therapy session because everyone feels really safe. We try really hard to make this space as safe as we can for everyone.”
Antje sells coulorful wool that she sources from primarily small businesses (Photo by Julia Becker)
Knitting has many benefits – and is here to stay
Many knitters agree that their hobby improves other parts of their life. Antje said: “The mental health benefits of knitting or of crafting in general, are immense. If you’ve got really bad anxiety or really bad depression, knitting is a no-lose hobby. If you get it wrong, you start again – you’ve not lost anything, the yarn doesn’t become unusable. If at the end of the day, you’ve done one row, you’ve achieved something.”
Selling wool which is sustainable is very important to Antje and her customers (Photo by Julia Becker)
As university students Juliane and Victoria agree that sometimes it’s good to have a hobby that helps you relax. Juliane said: “For me personally, knitting calms me down a lot. Whenever I feel anxious or stressed or the world just gets a tiny bit too much, knitting helps me a lot. It’s a good routine to get into, no matter what my life looks like, I can still do my little stitches and move forward.”
And for some people, even watching someone knit can also be very impactful. Victoria said: “Watching knitting videos definitely makes me feel peaceful because I’m just focusing on the one simple action that’s being done. It calms me down when I’m stressed.”
And so a lockdown trend has had a lasting impact on many people’s life. The knitting community is growing with hashtags like #grandmaera, #knittinginspiration and #knittersofinstagram trending on social media.
But most importantly, knitting has not only established itself as a successful content idea for TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest – it is also a form of self-care and a source of relaxation. And it is a way how many people find calmness in a world full of screens and noise – one stitch at a time.