The Therapeutic Stitch: Unraveling the Mental Health Benefits of Crochet and Knitting

The Therapeutic Stitch: Unraveling the Mental Health Benefits of Crochet and Knitting

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, finding moments of tranquility can seem like an elusive dream. However, nestled within the gentle rhythm of yarn and needles lies a therapeutic haven: the art of crochet and knitting.

Beyond creating beautiful pieces of fabric, these crafts offer profound mental health benefits, tapping into the intricate chemistry of our brains and fostering a sense of well-being. Let's delve into the science behind the soothing power of crochet and knitting, exploring how they stimulate the release of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – the trio of happiness hormones.


Sherley modelling her finished cardigan!


Dopamine: The Joy of Achievement

Dopamine, often dubbed the "feel-good" neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in the brain's reward system. When we engage in activities that bring us pleasure or a sense of accomplishment, dopamine levels surge, creating feelings of satisfaction and motivation. Crochet and knitting provide a perfect avenue for dopamine release as they offer a tangible sense of progress and achievement.

Completing a row, mastering a new stitch, or finishing a project can trigger a delightful dopamine rush, reinforcing a positive feedback loop. This sense of accomplishment not only boosts self-esteem but also encourages continued engagement with the craft, fostering a sustainable source of joy and fulfillment.

If you are like me and you have a large number of projects on the go, then focussing on finishing one section of a project, rather than the entire project, can give you a similar dopamine lift!  The picture below shows me working on 'scrumbles' for the Freeform Crochet Along hosted for members of the Crochet Guild Australia.  Each little part was a reward in itself!



Serotonin: Stitching Serenity

Serotonin, often associated with mood regulation and emotional well-being, is another key player in the mental health landscape. Low levels of serotonin are linked to conditions like depression and anxiety, while increased serotonin levels promote feelings of calmness and contentment. Crochet and knitting act as potent catalysts for serotonin release, offering a meditative escape from the stresses of daily life.

The rhythmic motion of looping yarn and the repetitive nature of stitches induce a state of mindfulness, where worries dissipate, and the mind finds solace in the present moment. This mindful focus on the task at hand promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety levels, and cultivates a serene mental state. As tension unravels from the yarn, so too does tension dissolve from the mind, leaving behind a profound sense of tranquility.  

If you count out loud while you are looping and stitching it engages the 'top part of our brain' or the Cortex.  This helps to regulate the 'middle part of our brain' or limbic system and can assist in decreasing anxiety.


Oxytocin: The Thread of Connection

Often referred to as the "love hormone" or "bonding hormone," oxytocin plays a pivotal role in social bonding, trust, and emotional intimacy. While typically associated with activities like hugging or cuddling, oxytocin release can also be elicited through activities that promote a sense of connection and community. Crochet and knitting, despite being solitary pursuits, foster a deep sense of belonging and camaraderie within crafting circles.

Sharing patterns, exchanging tips, or admiring each other's creations fosters a supportive and inclusive environment, where individuals feel valued and understood. This sense of connection triggers the release of oxytocin, strengthening social bonds and enhancing overall well-being. Moreover, crafting for others, whether through handmade gifts or charitable donations, amplifies the oxytocin effect, imbuing each stitch with warmth and compassion.

In conclusion, the therapeutic benefits of crochet and knitting extend far beyond the realm of creative expression. By harnessing the power of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, these age-old crafts offer a holistic approach to mental wellness, weaving together joy, serenity, and connection. So, the next time you pick up your needles or hook, remember – you're not just crafting fabric; you're stitching together a tapestry of mental health and happiness.


One of our fabulous local knitting and crochet groups joining us at the Yarn Me Calm Fibre Art Studio.  Spending time together, talking, supporting and just 'being with' each other in a safe space.


Pattern for Crochet Emoji by New Crochet World made for the first picture.

Crazy Patterns


Hopefully you are doing something creative to boost your mental health and wellbeing!  Happy creating!

Andrea xxx

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