This past year has been difficult in so many ways—with one of the biggest losses being social connection. Human beings thrive on connection, and this climate of social distancing has taken its toll. We are now moving toward more in-person interaction as the world begins to reopen. One of the best ways to reconnect with each other is through common interests and activities where you can reengage with friends and family of all ages through a shared passion. Look to choose an activity that is appropriate for all ages and skill levels and encourages conversation, learning, creation, and sharing.
How about trying your hand at knitting?
Knitting has been used for centuries as a way to mend, create, and manufacture goods. The idea of social knitting really began to blossom in the 1940s and 1950s as knitting circles or knitting clubs began to emerge. A knitting circle or club is focused on individuals coming together to develop a sense of community while exploring their creativity. Knitting can facilitate connection while promoting a wellness-focused experience of bringing generations together creatively, mindfully, and socially.
The process of knitting has so many proven health benefits, and it is inherently mindful and meditative. The simple act of knitting calms your mind and focuses your thoughts. Additionally, the finished projects you create by knitting are a wonderful gift for yourself or others.
How do you get your pod started on learning to knit? And how do you do this with friends, family, and co-workers who are spread out all over the world? An ideal solution is virtual and in-person knitting workshops.
Prior to COVID-19, I had been running in-person knitting workshops at spas and resorts throughout the country. When the country went into lockdown, I moved my knitting workshops to Zoom. These virtual workshops were well received. There were many classes of friends and extended families, co-workers, and community groups attending these virtual knitting workshops together. Participants of all ages had the same common goal of learning to knit and developing camaraderie. Post-workshop, I would hear from numerous participants that they continued to knit together with their fellow participants. What a great way to be creative and connect with the people in your life.
I have been lucky to teach knitting to so many groups. Some of my favorite memories include:
- Working with a group of 50-plus women who had been friends since elementary school. They lived all over the country and typically had a reunion in a central meeting place every summer. Unfortunately, they were unable to travel due to restrictions last summer, so we zoomed a knitting workshop together. They had so much fun that they continued knitting and Zooming weekly and have continued to do so for this past year. They now “see” each other more than before the pandemic.
- A family reunion across the U.S. and Canada: Men and women of all ages ranging from 10 to 82 Zoomed in for a knitting workshop over the holidays. They were working on a scarf project and were going to gift their finished project to one of their family members—also on the Zoom.
- When they completed their scarves, I randomly chose a name for each person to gift their handmade item to. Once all the finished scarves were mailed out to the designated family members, all participants got back on another Zoom to show off their new scarves and guess who had knit it for them. Lots of fun was had with that holiday gift.
- Team building in the evening: I worked with a large law firm teaching co-workers and their children how to knit a scarf. It was fun for the adults to “meet” their coworkers’ children and to spend time with each other in a relaxed environment. That group meets now every month to work on a new project.
Want to create your own virtual knitting workshop? Here is how to do it.
1. Set up a time and select participants.
Choose who you would like to do this with, and set aside an hour or two on an agreed upon date/time and make sure everyone has access to Zoom.
2. Choose an appropriate project.
If you are knitting with large needles and large yarn, like I do, you can knit a scarf in about an hour. If you are knitting with smaller needles and smaller yarn, I would suggest knitting a bookmark.
3. Hire a knitting instructor to facilitate.
You can find an instructor at your local yarn store, or call your town library. Most have knitting groups that meet there, and they can likely make an intro to a seasoned knitter. You can also contact me.
4. Purchase the project specific materials needed.
You will need knitting needles and yarn (your instructor can provide details depending on your project). Then ship these items out to all of the participants.
5. Show up, knit, laugh, connect, and learn a new skill.
Once you have finished your initial class, you can continue knitting and laughing and connecting and learning with each other through Zoom until you can once again do it in person.
Knitting is a great activity in person or virtually, for all ages and skill levels. It is bonding, de-stressing, and, most importantly, fun. Happy knitting!