There’s a soft clinking of needles, and a swish of yarn being pulled out, like leaves in a breeze. One could assume that this is Molly Weasley, on a warm autumn afternoon, knitting another sweater for the holidays.
And perhaps that assumption would be correct, but at this particular moment it is not.
This yarn crafter is significantly younger. A high school student in fact. On the Ojai Valley School hill there is a small band of merry yarn crafters who have the jumpstart on a classic of old age and all the health benefits that come with it.
Not only is yarn crafting, like knitting and crocheting, excellent for creative channeling it also comes with a project basket of benefits.
Recently, The New York Times’ blog, Well, released an article detailing said health benefits. For example, the repetitive motions of crocheting and knitting have been observed to help reduce stress and blood pressure, similar effects to those achieved through yoga and meditation.
Along with its meditative qualities, yarn crafting is a good way to channel creative and restless energy.
“I am able to focus on something productive while still paying attention to my teachers,” said freshman Wendy Lazo-Dowdy, who can often be seen at the Upper Campus crocheting hats in fuzzy rainbow yarn. “Classes can be stifling sometimes and anxiety can be channeled through my crochet hook.”
Lower Campus teacher Michele Floyd has her fifth grade students take time to yarn craft for many of the same reasons.
“It’s a great way to relax, [and] build fine motor skills,” Mrs. Floyd said. It also helps students “learn basic patterning, patience, [and] stepping away from technology [to] return to lost arts and skills.”
Along with returning to the lost arts, yarn crafting can also give one a sense of purpose.
Such was the case of a father, featured in the New York Times blog article, whose premature newborn was in intensive care for its first five weeks. The father found purpose in knitting baby hats.
Not all crafting has such a set and determined purpose, though. To some it is also something to do just because they like it.
“It makes me feel good,” said OVS sophomore Ellen Hou, who began knitting at the age of 12 and regular practices the craft as a way to create and relax.
And I am inclined to agree. I can personally attest to the agreeable and calming aspects of crafting.
It can easily be done in class to help focus a wayward daydreaming mind and it is non-disruptive. It is a good way to occupy ones hands and it makes amazing gifts. It’s an incredibly rewarding to see the gift receiver’s face. And I have found that handmade gifts are something people truly appreciate.
Besides winning good favor with your friends and extended family, yarn crafting has been proven to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, as it stimulates the mind and, depending on the pattern, can pose quite a challenge.
It can be learned at nearly any age and be taken to any level of skill. Many people learn it as children as a way for them to bond with their elders, but then again an equal number stumble upon it in later in life.
Whether learned in youth or picked up later in life, yarn crafting is one of those things you don’t see many people doing on the streets, let alone on high school campuses. But it gives people a way of weaving in their left over ends, and knitting their loose thoughts together.
Yarn crafting often makes me think about how much focus and work life takes.
For example school has progressively gotten tougher and tougher throughout the ages, but it requires a different type of focus. Yarn crafting has really helped me pull together my unruly thoughts and daydreams, and the fact that I am allowed to do it in class is something that my stress levels and overall sanity appreciate.
“[Yarn crafting is] great fun,” Mrs. Floyd said. “It’s the epitome of the OVS experience where you get to do something you may never have experienced elsewhere.”