Knitting brain training

Short version of post.

Knitting, or the like, is good for your brain. Do a little each day to help your brain.

Longer post version.

I’ve been tackling new knitting stitches recently. New to me at least. So far they have each taken 8 and 20 rows to complete one repeat. Each line is different from its previous. Each uses a combination of knit and purl, with the odd yarn over for good measure. I really have to concentrate on the pattern. Often checking the instructions several times for each row.

Takes twenty knitted rows to repeat the pattern

After the first one or two repeats, I get the pattern. I can see how the pattern is made and gradually I look at my notes less and less. I love to see the pattern forming.

Memory has fascinated me for a long time. My third year thesis at Uni focused on one aspect of it. Like so much of the brain’s function, it is complex. Often people will be better at remembering certain things but not others. Taking an extreme example, someone may be able to remember the sequence of 150 numbers, but not hold a seven item shopping list in their heads for more than a few minutes.

To achieve these feats of memory, the brain needs to exercise. Be trained. Not just memory, but in all cerebral functions. Some people do this on a daily basis via crosswords, sudoku or brain teasers. Like mental aerobics, it helps to keep the brain fit, oiled and ready for action.

As I was challenging myself to learn the new knitting patterns, it occurred to me that I was exercising my brain. In this case, memory. Surely a daily session of varied knitting stitches counts as a brain exercise. Albeit as specialised or focused as a word puzzle or mental arithmetic. They don’t replace each other but complement.

Spot the hens.

Incidently, as humans, we are pre-programmed to search out patterns. Our ancestors would have used it to spot the regular shape of their prey through a leafy environment, for instance.  So knitting a repeating pattern, over several rows, should be easier to achieve than a random one, believe it or not.

A true random pattern of anything is difficult to make. Just ask a code cracker. Repeats will occur before long. Our brains just can’t help repeating themselves.  It seeks a pattern. So next time you are struggling to craft a pattern, just think that your brain is actually all set up to do it. Given time and practise (and everything else being equal), it will achieve it.

So next time, you pick up the knitting needles and tackle a more complex piece of knitting, crochet or embroidery pattern, just think of the good you are doing for your brain. Another reason to craft. As if I needed another reason!

Apart from the cerebral stimulation, there is a purpose to all the new stitches (and my ramblings – I have cut it so very short. I reckon another 5,000 words and citations would cover it. So much to say about brain functions and crafting.). I have devised a perfectly tailored, practical knitting project that allows me to exercise my brain every day. Just twenty minutes a day would go a long way. I’ll post it up soon.

Anyone else challenging their brain through crafting today?

6 thoughts on “Knitting brain training

  • Thursday 3 February, 2011 at 11:34 pm
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    This is an very informative and enjoyable post. No need for me to feel guilty when I sit down to craft, I’m exercising my brain! 🙂
    Have fun with your new patterns.
    Anne xx

    • Friday 4 February, 2011 at 11:25 am
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      Thanks Anne. Doing craft is another way to challenge the brain, so it should be guilt-free. I’m enjoying my pattern challenge. Hope you have a good project on at the moment.

  • Friday 4 February, 2011 at 7:56 am
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    Does this mean I can excuse all my knitting time as brain exercise…please :o)

    btw love the hens and the patterns

    • Friday 4 February, 2011 at 11:23 am
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      Absolutely, although sticking to garter and stocking stitch may not be a strenuous enough exercise. Throw in a few yarn overs and k2tog and I think you may get away with it! 😀

  • Friday 4 February, 2011 at 9:28 pm
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    I made a seat cover for an ikea poang chair. I used strips of fabric left over from other projects (I have two HUGE bags of fabric scraps that I can’t seem to part with!)

    I think I rushed the measuring a tad because it is, ahem, snug. OK, so this isn’t quite as complicated as your knitting pattern (which scared me a little – two year of knitting and I still can’t do much more than a ribbed scarf!)

    But I did do this with a small dog on my lap, many children popping in and out to say hello and three complicated phone calls, so not bad really.

    • Saturday 5 February, 2011 at 11:56 am
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      Your seat cover sounds intriguing. So more challenging when you have distractions. I don’t know how you managed with a dog on your lap. When we had cats, I found I couldn’t make anything once they were on my lap. Kept me pinnned to the seat.

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