Who is in your close-knit community? Do you feel like you have a fabric of connection to those around you? Our local yarn shops (LYS) work to create tight knit communities. Supporting our local arts communities including your LYS can help provide a “third place” to find a sense of purpose, in addition to home and work.

The “third place” is a term coined by US sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his 1989 book The Great Good Place. Gathering in a “third place” like a LYS where you can put aside the concerns of work and home, and enjoy good company and lively conversation is “the heart of a community’s social vitality.”

“Your first place is your home, a private and domestic space. Your second place is your work, a structured social experience and where you likely spend most of your time. Your third place is somewhere you can connect with others, share your thoughts and dreams, and have fun.

A third place is an anchor of the community and usually a public setting that hosts frequent and informal gatherings of people. Most people are loyal to their place and return regularly to unwind and socialize. It’s best if it’s located close to your home or work.”

In an article about the future of the local yarn shop, the authors discuss and reference research related to the benefits of these communities.

The article states, “There is a saying that ‘in the rhythm of the needles there is music for the soul’; that is, knitting keeps you from unraveling. But is there still a place in a wired world for the local yarn shop, long the source of needles and yarn, and traditionally a gathering place for knitters?”

In addition, there is well-being research described in this article entitled, “Want To Feel Happier Today? Try Talking To A Stranger.” The well-being research referenced in this article, promotes the idea that interacting even with strangers promotes greater happiness and greater feelings of belonging.

Many knitters find how easy it is to meet new people while knitting. Project Knitwell’s K2together community is attempting to recreate the benefits of these interactions for those who are immunocompromised or otherwise isolated to connect online. There are many positive outcomes and mental health benefits to offering more opportunities to engage with each other, as well as the creative arts.

Yvonne attends Project Knitwell’s weekly class at the USO Family and Warrior Center in Fort Belvoir, the largest in the nation. A wife of an active duty service member and new mom, she says, “These weekly knitting classes have empowered me to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone.”

Yvonne is happy to connect with others she did not know before joining the group. While knitting together, they share a common bond as military spouses. Her new knitting skills also help her feel closer to her mom who was a knitter. She did not have an opportunity to learn from her mom before she passed away, but can now share that connection and eventually teach her own daughter.

She looks forward to the group every week to strengthen her new community connections and to learn more about the benefits of knitting. She is building wellness, comfort, and community one stitch at a time.

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide. It is more critical than ever to provide increased arts and culture opportunities to promote social engagement and connect people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences. An Americans for the Arts Public Opinion Poll reports:

  • 81% of Americans say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world”
  • 69% believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences”

The boost from knitting together while engaging in the creative arts is crucial to helping our communities thrive.

Parker Avenue Knits in downtown Detroit, Michigan is doing just that. This month Project Knitwell is proud to present an interview with owner Sally Moore as she prepares to celebrate their 1st anniversary at the end of this year, on December 26, 2022!

Click here for a video podcast for knitters who are passionate about the benefits of knitting. Please join us in welcoming knitters Priyanka Champaneri and Sally Moore to the conversation in this online interview. Stay until the end to hear the rapid fire question round at 47:40.

If you would like to be interviewed or know someone who would like to join the conversation on knitting for wellness, please contact Project Knitwell at info@knitwell.org email.