Research Shows How Knitting Every Day Rewires Your Brain to Be Less Anxious and More Happy

I went on 9 TV stations across the US to share how knitting saved my life. This 90-second video by Betsan Corkhill is the best explanation I’ve found as to how exactly knitting rewires your brain to make you happier.

YouTube video

You Know That Knitting Is Good for You. Now You Can Explain Why.

Everyone’s story is different, but we all have a sense that knitting is good for us. Knitting really did save my life (read the full story here) when I developed an eating disorder after college. I lost all interest in my hobbies and forgot that I liked to knit. I ended up in an eating disorder treatment center and lucky for me, the “craft lady” who came on Thursdays brought some needles and yarn.

“A Basket of Yarn Is a Basket of Potential” – Betsan Corkhill

For a knitter, the possibilities that a basket of yarn holds are what gives you hope for tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. They turn your thoughts towards creativity, producing something, turning yarn into a project. They turn your thoughts positively towards tomorrow and the joys it will bring. Perhaps this explains why knitters “therapeutically” add to their stash, even when they have enough yarn to last for yarns?

Betsan Corkhill, the universally recognized expert on the therapeutic benefits of knitting, surveyed over 3,500 knitters from 31 countries to understand how knitting can be so healing. She wrote Knit for Health & Wellness: How to knit a flexible mind & more… In this 90-second clip, she breaks down the power that knitting has to affect and turn around even the most powerful negative thoughts.

How Knitting Can Make You Mentally More Resilient Within Days

Suicidal thoughts – negative, depressing thoughts – are ruminative in nature and take place in the subconscious. They repeat and pile up on each other, magnifying each other until the thinker is buried under a repetitive stream of negative thoughts. These pathways become more and more entrenched the longer this continues.

Why Knitting is Literally More Effective Than Drugs In Rewiring the Brain

In this clip, Betsan explains how knitting is more powerful than drugs in reaching into the subconscious and rewiring entrenched negative neural pathways. Knitting replaced ruminative, negative thoughts with more positive thoughts of tomorrow. Knitting gives people pleasure today and hope for the future.

On the Surface, Knitting Is Seen as Fun, Relaxing, and Creative. In Reality It Penetrates to the Depths of the Subconscious.

“Knitting seems to break into those ruminative thoughts” – Betsan Corkhill.

For me, knitting absolutely did turn my life around and pointed my thoughts in a positive direction instead of focusing on weight and weight loss.

I rediscovered my love of knitting and my knack for teaching at the same time, helping the other girls in the center with their cast-ons and bind-offs and making a pair of flap-top mittens until I quickly realized I was ready to face the outside world again.

A job in a yarn store soon followed, and then a 13-year career as a knitting video instructor and always-learning entrepreneur.

Today I find myself in the beginning stages of a major life upheaval. I’ve also started my first knitting project in as long as I can remember. This 90-second video clip re-inspired me to start knitting again and reconnect with its soothing, positive influence.

Having a Knitting Project Can Help, Even if You Can’t Knit Every Day

Doesn’t it help to know, in the back of your mind, that you have your knitting with you should things get dull? Isn’t it like a security blanket, there for you if and when you need it? I think so.

Avoid This One Sneaky Habit to Stop Knitting From Turning Negative

We knitters love to see knitting as universally positive or a cure-all, and clips like this reinforce our beliefs that knitting is 100% positive. But watch out for one bad habit that might make your knitting less enjoyable.

Knitting Until Your Hands Hurt

I’ve received literally hundreds of comments on my How to Relieve Knitting Hand Pain With One Simple Trick blog post (my most popular blog post on KnitFreedom by far) with people telling me they’ve spent months knitting late into the night, captivated by this wonderful new hobby, only to find themselves in debilitating pain.

The post above shows you how you can knit a lot and still not have a lot of hand pain. So go check those exercises and tips out and please apply them. Even though knitting is glorious, please do not continue knitting at the expense of your physical health! Stand up, stretch every once in a while, and at some point, go to bed… remember, knitting gives you hope for tomorrow. 😀

Here’s to continuing to enjoy knitting for many, many tomorrows!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how interesting this was for you, on a scale of 1-10. What was the most interesting thing about this for you? Thank you!

Thank you so much for your feedback and see you next Wednesday with another eye-opening video clip.


Special thanks to Kristy Glass Knits for her in-depth interview with Betsan Corkhill. You can find the complete interview here:



  • Michele R.

    This video and your idea for brief videos of inspiration and education score a 10 from me. Thank you!
    You have always been my go-to instructor, as you know.
    After a few years of life’s unplanned turns, I am just now rediscovering my joy in knitting. Your timing is perfect.
    It is so lovely to share in the supportive and beautiful group you have created.
    Much love to you and your family, dear Liat.

  • This is not to the extent of losing a person but when my one dog passed, very unexpectedly, I found it hard to move forward for a time. One issue was the anxiety of my other dog after losing his buddy and separation issues. I did the things I needed to like cleaning etc. it took about 6 months to get the dogs anxiety under control and I had to get back into things and the first thing that I did, which brought all back to normal, was picking up my knitting again.

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Hi Debbie,
      Thank you so much for sharing this! I am loving learning how knitting can be such a stabilizing force in one’s life.

  • This was terrific! Thank you for sharing and caring my friend!

  • I loved how she (and you) shared the way seemingly simple activities can bring joy and potential. There’s a new catch phrase running about, finding ‘Glimmers’ vs. ‘Triggers.’ This made be think of that.

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Very nice. I am looking up “Glimmers vs Triggers” right now 👍🏼🙏🏼

  • Your words are a 10+ for me, Liat. Learning more about you combined with the resources you provided are what stand out for me. I hope your knitting soothes your brain and “penetrates to the depths of the subconscious” as you navigate the upheaval you’re experiencing.

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Thank you so much Sally! I will continue sharing my personal experience then!

  • Judy Hamilton

    Very interesting and relatable topic.

  • Laura Norman

    Thank you for sharing the video. I always liked where my head went when I knit. Makes perfect sense now. I used to start over a few times (ok, maybe more than a few) but then I thought to myself that the beginning and the ending didn’t matter as much as everything in the middle. No one really looks at how you casted on or off, they just see the whole thing! Right? Happy Knitting 💙

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Hi Laura,

      Thank you for your comment and that’s really a great point. I actually just heard Elizabeth Zimmermann say that the only place you have to worry about messing up (on a sweater) is right on the chest under your face. Everywhere else, don’t even worry about it.

      She also says that no one cares if a sweater is too big as long as the ribbing part fits right. 😉

    • Laura Norman

      Oops! Forgot to give my rating …. 10!

  • Amy Taylor-Brill

    10. You are by far my favorite knitting teacher. Over the years I’ve become more skilled but I always return to your videos to refresh myself on various techniques. Over the years I’ve also come to look upon you as a treasured friend, and for that reason I found this comment (“ Today I find myself in the beginning stages of a major life upheaval.”) the most interesting and concerning. When you are ready to share more on this, I — and many of your other followers are ready to listen and support you through troubled times.

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Amy, thank you so much. I am so grateful for you. I am amazed to think about how some of my longest-lasting connections are actually to students like you through this blog. To think that 7 years from now we’ll be able to say, “We’ve known each other 20 years!” 😀

      I do have things to share and I’m so so grateful for your support. The upheaval is good, and I’m sure I’ll be writing about this, because it’s important. It’s just a matter of me finding the time. Right now I only work while Max is asleep and he’s just about dropping one of his two naps! But I’ll share as soon as I can.

      Big big hugs to you dear friend.

  • Jocelyn Chislett

    Thank you Liat. What a good idea. I would never have found a clip like this on my utube . Oh,as for a numerical rating…..a 10 I look forward to more of these in the future.
    Be well,

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Woohoo! Thank you so much, Jocelyn! It’s great to hear from you, too. It was fun to unearth this clip amid a 30-minute interview. I’m actually reading her book right now and it’s great.


  • Lots of teriffic info and it came at just the right time! I’ve been thinking about starting to knit again after taking the last 6 months off but kept stalling. I will be starting a project this afternoon!

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Yes!!!!!! Hooray!!! Thank you so much Diana for letting me know. You and I are starting again together!

  • Carolyn Leyboldt

    Liat, I’m sharing this video with a friend who is lost in caring for a dying husband. I was that person two years ago, and I know what she’s dealing with. She’s not a knitter but I’m offering to teach her. Knitting got me through hours of bedside sitting, and later, grieving. It is truly my lifesaver and greatest joy:) Thank you for being you and doing what you do.

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Wow Carolyn, amazing. This clip would be a wonderful way for you to communicate to your friend that you want to help, and that you think knitting could help. She can become a knitter in about 10 minutes with your help.

      I’m thinking of the quote from this clip, “He brought her in some knitting into the hospital.” It’s really that simple. I like it because it reminds me that any yarn and needles will do.

      Love, Liat

  • Debbie Cox


  • Rita Jurgess

    What is crazy to me is the fact that I use to like to knit, “Until” I found that I had nothing that I “Wanted” to knit. I did not start knitting to knit clothing, very far from it. I did knit 1 blanket, and started several shawls, but I never once really enjoyed it. I had a ton of yarn, I just kept buying as it was on sale that was about it. I sat there and stared for what seemed like hours trying to figure out what to knit until finally I gave it up and sold all my yarn to a friend of mine. I want to get back into knitting “BUT” I have never had the “Desire” to knit clothes or blankets lol. I used to crochet a lot of blankets and shawls and dish cloths and gave them all away for one reason or another. I enjoyed crocheting because it was so much faster, but that enjoyment didn’t last either. One can only knit so many blankets and shawls till they get bored with it all. I’ve never knitted a sweater or a blouse etc because I figured that it was way above my expertise. I have knitted a few baby dresses…just the basic dress nothing to that. How to turn that into a shirt or blouse that I’d wear is a whole other story. I took your class for the Beginning Knitting Superstar but I still can’t do it. Thus the only thing I could do was quit knitting altogether! Now I wished I was able to figure it all out…lol. My usual measurements are not the normal for a woman my age as I’m shorter than the average woman of 57, but yet not short enough to be petite so my measurements are off the chart…lol. Anyway when I did knit, I found it was more frustrating than relaxing at first, but once I got the hang of knitting a shawl / scarf it because easier and then relaxing. I know if I get back into knitting it will frustrate me to no end until I get use to it again. The main question is “What” to knit to get me started once again…lol I suffered from major depression and bi-polar 1 for many many years and I still struggle but decided I did not want to feel “Numb” anymore so I stopped taking my meds and started knitting…I found that I wasn’t in need of the meds as it was my mind set that was in need of change. Crochet and knitting is very therapeutic! I surely hope you are able to get back into doing projects again Lait because I think you will have more peace of mind and in a better mindset for raising kids too. 🙂

    Hugs to you my friend!
    Rita Jurgess

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Hi Rita,
      I was really touched by your comment. It sounds like part of you was really calling you to knit, and the other part of you wasn’t really trusting yourself or giving yourself guidance. It’s vital that you focus on what calls to you – what you like – so that you can get a sense of it. Then that sense can guide you. It would be good to go into a local yarn store and see what yarns or sample projects call to you.

      Then as you knit with that yarn or you knit the sample project, notice what you like and don’t like. Then try to find projects and yarns that have more of the characteristics that you like. You will develop your own taste this way and then it will guide you and you won’t feel so lost.

      And we are here for you too, just email

      • Rita Jurgess

        Hello Liat and thank you for your reply. Yeah I think you hit the nail on the head with the words “Feeling lost”. yeah that is pretty much it. I had time to think about the things I used to knit…hats and tried socks. I watched your videos on magic loop and took to it pretty quickly. Socks are still a bit intimidating for me. I have had the second sock syndrome…hubby is still waiting for that 2nd sock 3 years later…lol. I do have a problem knitting with the fingering and finer yarns as it always feels like it is too thin for warm socks. I find that I tend to gravitate towards Cascade yarns and Caron simply soft yarns worsted weight. I think you have a video or pattern for worsted weight socks which I’m going to try to conquer to start with maybe that will help me get over my jitters. You are one of the best teachers I have seen in many years and I thank you for the way you do your videos as they are a bit easier to follow. I do both continental and english style knitting and your video’s help me work on my continental style more easily. Now I gravitate towards continental.

        I always refer people to you for learning anything at all because I know they won’t be disappointed!
        Thank you again for your reply!


    • Carolyn Leyboldt

      Try knitting Liats Toe Up socks. But do it one at a time. Don’t worry about size too much. They stretch:) I have 10 pairs myself, and my family are always asking for more.
      I knit baby blankets, hats and scarves for charity. I’ve never been more relaxed and happy. Good luck!

      • A
        Liat Gat - Founder

        Carolyn, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you so much for this great advice for Rita. 🙏🏼🙏🏼

      • Rita Jurgess

        Thanks for the reply Carolyn 🙂 I’ve not had very much luck with finishing one sock let alone 2…lol. I do want to learn to do socks and I do have the magic loop version of Liat knitting socks 2 at a time. I will have to go buy more yarn for just that type of knitting. I have 3 skeins of worsted weight yarn and nothing you’d catch me wearing as socks…lol. I appreciate your reply Carolyn! I had indeed forgotten that I can do socks…lol goodness me I know my hubby needs lots of socks.


        • A
          Liat Gat - Founder

          Hi Rita, you can learn socks with worsted weight yarn! My beginner socks class actually uses worsted-weight yarn. It doesn’t matter if you will wear the socks or not, it’s just for learning! They are a great project like Carolyn says. Hugs!

  • Thank you for this email and video. I have always considered knitting to be therapeutic, but when my husband passed away last Christmas, I discovered that knitting has saved my sanity. It’s good to know that knitting is so beneficial to the brain.

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Thank you so much Peggy! I’m starting to see that wherever we are, ill or well, happy or grieving, that knitting brings us up higher.

      Big hugs to you.

  • Peggy R.

    This was interesting- I rate it 10. Knitting has helped me through grief even though I could only manage a few rows. When my Dad was dying in hospice I would sit and talk to him while knitting a sweater. It was a simple roll- neck pullover in a fun bright neon green. It was only after he died that I noticed the dropped and poorly made stitches. I frogged it. I could not bring myself to start over so I eventually donated the yarn and pattern.
    I love the meditative nature of knitting. I did not know your knitting story. Thanks for sharing- it was powerful ♥️

    • A
      Liat Gat - Founder

      Hi Peggy,
      This comment was amazing for me to read. Thank you for telling me about this, I love imagining the neon green. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

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