The health benefits of knitting are in the news again. Back before Christmas, Betsan Corkhill was on To the Best of Our Knowledge talking about the mental health–and pain relieving–benefits of knitting. She worked on a large study of over 3000 knitters and she says, with scientists, “the ‘k’ word was the biggest barrier to this work.” Corkhill ended up calling the process by a more scientific name: “bi-lateral rhythmic phsycho-social intervention,” which suddenly got more scientific attention. (Before you ask, YES–crochet is also bi-lateral, rhythmic phsycho-social intervention. I feel the benefits of crochet all the time.)

Corkhill has a new book, you can get a preview here:

All that time I spent yesterday working my left brain on that slipper calculator got my right brain wondering about art and artists, and the supposed divide between logical and creative thought. I get totally engrossed and creatively excited working on the math parts of designing. For me, they’re just as much fun as the sketching, imagining, and creating. I know this is true for people in lots of different media. At the theatre where I work, there are lighting and set designers–even scenic painters–who need to use lots of quantitative thought to translate their creative ideas into reality. I suppose there are some folks who do the quantitative work just because they have to, but I think for many, it’s an interesting puzzle–a fun way to express ideas.

I would rather offer tools than rules.

Expressing ideas is kind of what I came to when I was thinking about pattern calculators. When I write patterns line-by-line as I sometimes do, it feels to me more like “instructions.” I don’t love following instructions, so I don’t love to give them, per se. What I’d rather do is find fun, creative ways of communicating an idea that allows others to express themselves. I would rather offer tools than rules.

Funny thing is, I had time to think about all this at first because I was knitting something where the instructions were laid out for me. The meditative quality of knitting that Corkhill talks about gave me time to think about the why of what I was doing and what I like to do. So it’s all a balance. What it comes down to for me is, I like the fiddly bits, and I like the relaxing bits of many kinds of work and play: music making, handwork, cooking. And like so many of my other favorite things–walking, chocolate, red wine–studies keep showing they’re good for you. (Check out Jane Brody’s recent blog post on the New York Times web site that lists several recent studies, she’s a knitter too.)

Don’t worry, all your favorite things are good for you.