For Lilith Green, a professional yarn dyer and knitter from West Kilbride, Scotland, who is autistic, pre-pandemic knitting circles made socialising possible. Normally, she contends with high anxiety in social situations but showing up to a group with a shared interest gave her ‘an immediate level of comfort’. And because everyone is already looking down at their knitting, ‘I’m not the kind of weird one because I’m not looking at people’, says Green.
Knitting has also helped her with stimming – ‘unconventional, intense, or repetitive’ movements that help people with autism self-stimulate, self-soothe, and communicate (as the writer Lauren Rowello puts it). Green says her own stimming has ‘gotten massively worse’ during the pandemic. 'Knitting, for me, fulfills the same kind of physical need, because it’s a repetitive movement that I’m doing with my hands,’ she says. ‘It’s incredibly helpful for me to be able to replace an anxiety-causing activity I can’t control with something creative.’
Joi Weaver, who lives in State of Washington in the US, also uses crafts like weaving, spinning, and nalbinding – a Viking method of knitting with a single needle – to manage her anxiety, bipolarity, and complex PTSD. 'Crafting makes me exist in my body,’ she says. ‘That grounding, that forcing me to be in my body right now in the moment – I find that really helpful.’