What moves you?

Does knitting for extended periods of time compromise our physical fitness?

I love knitting and I am sure you can say the same about yourself. I love crocheting too. I love yarn crafts of all kinds. I also love doing them for extended periods of time. Knitting has given me a lot more than wearable garments. It has given me hope in darker times, it’s kept me sane through rough patches in my life, it’s given me a sense of accomplishment when I most needed it. The benefits of knitting for my mind and soul are countless. However, as much as I am convinced that knitting is good for my emotional state and it, without doubt, keeps me sane, I cannot help but wonder how good it is for my physical health. I always think of the 100-year-old woman who said that knitting keeps her arms toned and chest strong, which is so true. But how about the aerobic side of fitness.

I am a runner and I have to admit that after having kids I reduced my running to a minimum. I am a stay-at-home mom whose husband works long unpredictable hours and we have no family in town, which makes it very difficult when we need a baby sitter. Some friends’ teen daughters have been available to babysit for us when absolutely needed. But I feel a bit strange asking them to come for a couple of hours so I can go running. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s almost like moms are programmed to feel guilty if they do something for themselves while leaving the kids with a baby sitter. It’s always running errands, shopping, a quick haircut, maybe pick up school supplies for the kids… but I have never heard another mom say that she had a baby sitter because she wanted to go to the movies, or go browse the yarn isle.

At the same time, I am a knitter too and I do like spending hours (usually interrupted every 10 min by my kids) doing the craft that I absolutely love. However, I am usually very inactive during that time. Always sitting with almost no movement. Sometimes I even hold my breath making sure I don’t miss a stitch from a complex pattern. After spending a few hours like this, I start to wonder if I should come up with a method to do both knitting and moving at the same time. I feel that it is important to make the effort to stay active while also enjoying my favourite craft.

I remember my mom telling me about my great grandmother who had four young kids and she was mostly alone at home taking care of the kids while everyone else was out working. At the time, they didn’t have department stores where you could go and buy a shirt or a blanket, or anything really. People made their own clothing, fabrics, yarn, etc. So my great grandmother usually had a distaff strapped around her and a spindle in her hand spinning wool while chasing after the kids, keeping a garden, and cooking meals for the whole house. She had the time to make this! Talk about super woman! Compared to her, I feel like I don’t do anything all day. But what impressed me the most about her is that she never stopped moving. She was always on the go and still managed to knit, spin, sew, and craft for her family. So there has to be a way.

After doing some research online I did find a few bags designed for knitters on the go. And I am willing to try a couple just to see how I feel about knitting and moving. Maybe I’ll just make one for myself and try it out. It may not be suitable for complex patterns or designs that require working with a few colours, but for the “no-brainer” patterns of a never-ending blanket, a scarf, or a basic hat, it might work. It will definitely add some much needed movement.

Have you thought about knitting and movement? Have you tried any methods to add movement to your knitting?


45 responses to “What moves you?

  1. I have thought a lot about this! I get caught up in my crochet and can end up sitting for hours and hours and then realize I’m stiff and should get up. I’ve actually been looking at recumbent exercise bikes that are specifically for doing work so they have tilting trays that I think would be perfect for my crochet supplies. In theory, I can exercise while I crochet. Not sure how it will work out in reality but I’m really thinking about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • What a great idea – a bike might just be the answer. Or a treadmill although I’m not much of a treadmill person. But it will work great especially on rainy days.

  2. Love this post! Just so you know, I’m a full time nanny for one family. I’ve also done a lot of babysitting on the side. I meet TONS of mom who only need me for a few hours to do something for themselves. One mom (of 4) has me come over specifically so she can go for a run then have some coffee afterwards. She’s a full time mom and super fit. Please feel ok with having a babysitter for you to do something for you!

    For physical knitting, I like to pace back and forth while I knit to get steps in. Knitting and the treadmill are also a match made in heaven.

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement. ๐Ÿ˜Š I need to stop feeling guilty about it. Your words definitely make sense and I’ll follow your advice.
      Pacing while knitting is probably the safest way to add movement. Treadmills too – I agree. I’ve been very close to buying a treadmill a few times. ๐Ÿ˜„Maybe it’s time to invest in one.

    • I have a treadmill I have never thought of using it while knitting, I usually just catch up on some tv….I bet I can do both! I shall be giving it a go!

  3. I am also guilty of being a stagnant knitter. I tend to sit with my legs folded underneath me and go on for hours until they’re numb. The good thing is I do/teach a few dance classes, so it kind of balances it out. I like Yolanda’s exercise bike idea though!

  4. It is so funny you wrote about this today as I have been thinking the exact same thing. I have a fitbit and have realized that when I am in full on craft mode I barely move and so get nowhere near 10,000 steps in a day. I don’t know the answer but I rather suspect that if your children are young you move a lot more than you think you do! Me, I do occasional long walks and go up and down stairs as often as I can. Having said that I have just spent 2 hours on my spinning wheel and my back is complaining! Lots of luck and well done on a thought provoking post. Thanks.

    • Thank you so much!! And thanks for contributing. Now that you mentioned it, I do move quite a bit with my kids. I guess I never think of it as “real” exercise and I take it for granted. I love long walks. So good for you for doing that. It clears your mind and keeps you fit. Enjoy your spinning wheel! I hope your back gets to have a rest and stop complaining ๐Ÿ˜„ cheers!

  5. Knitting does indeed keep me still. That’s why I like it! I can’t sit still at all without it. So, it allows me to do things that Mr. Ink enjoys, like watch movies together or listen to an audio book. Otherwise I am going to be up and doing something else.

    I figured any knitting sitting is well balanced by my biking. Additionally, I have an activity tracker that buzzes after 45 minutes of sitting, and I have to get up and do some moving to get it to clear. I faithfully clear the buzzer rather than turning it off.

    I have however taken walks while knitting and spindle spinning. I generally use a soft small purse I sling over my shoulder and neck, cross body, to keep things contained. I have also been known to knit on a stationary bike. Mostly because it’s funny, rather than getting serious work done.

    Things I have in mind to do someday but haven’t yet-knit on the back of a motorbike, and knit on the back of a tandem bike. The motorbike is because I drive my own. The tandem bike is because I don’t own one. Yet.

    • What a great point you’re making about knitting making you sit still when you otherwise can’t. I haven’t even thought of that. I absolutely see the benefits of that. I have a couple of friends who are very restless ๐Ÿ˜€ I will suggest to them that they take up knitting.

      Knitting on a motorcycle or a tandem bike both sound so unconventional. I love both ideas. I am not sure I would do it on a tandem bike but a motorcycle… it might just work. Good for you riding a motorcycle. That’s a fun thing to do and travel places. Are you thinking of buying a tandem bike? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for your contribution to this discussion. It made me look at knitting and movement in a completely different way.

      • Did you know that Elizabeth Zimmerman used to knit on the back of a motorbike? I admit, I got that idea from one of her books. It seemed both silly and wonderful. Maybe when I am older. As for the tandem bike, maybe a pipe dream, would be nice to try one first!

  6. Great post. I often think this too! I have a fit bit and like above if I am in full on crafty mode I don’t get my steps up – but I also can’t sit still without doing knitting or hand work. I take my crafts things to my kids activities I get loads done and don’t miss out on them and I would be just sitting there anyway. Have seen the bags you mention and have thought they might work for the smallish no tricky pattern projects. Should get one whipped up and give it ago.

    • You’re bringing up an interesting perspective – sitting idle hasn’t worked for me either. If I am somewhere where I have sit for a couple of hours, I starting regretting not bringing my yarn with me ๐Ÿ˜€

      Kids activities can definitely be a great time to knit and catch up on projects. I am more convinced that I should just make an on-the-go knitting bag. ๐Ÿ˜€ I found one that I really liked to buy but it was too expensive and I thought that if I make one it will be to serve my needs. So I’ll have to start drawing and design one myself.

  7. When I studied abroad in Peru I saw women with knitting belts walking around, knitting, and going about their daily activities. The knitting belt is a very old invention which allowed you to move around and knit at the same time. I actually learned about this by observing it in action in Peru. I also saw men doing this, in other areas of the country (in some parts of the Andes, men and women knit professionally, or sometimes only the men, or sometimes only the women). I personally couldn’t do it because I’m afraid of getting my yarn dirty. I’m pretty obsessive about defending my yarn from stains. I go with the idea that it’s ergonomically better to stop knitting for a time and engage in another activity. I used to run but I destroyed my knees so I try to hike or walk a long distance as many times a week as I can. I also try to clean the house a lot. I also work, but I work from home, so I have to be very conscious and tell myself to get outside and moving or, if I feel the need to stay inside, do something vigorous and useful around the house.

    • How lucky are you to have been able to witness an incredible crafty process in Peru. I would have loved to just watch these men and women. I do agree with you about guarding my yarn from stains. Usually I knit for kids and making sure my yarn is clean is extremely important to me. I wash my hands before I start knitting and I make sure it doesn’t touch the floor. So I can see how you would be careful about it.
      Yes, cleaning the house is an excellent exercise. I try to do it as much as I can too. Though to be honest it isn’t one of my favourite things to do haha I’ve always thought that if at any time in my life I have an unlimited amount of money, I’d hire a full time cleaner haha
      Good for you for pushing yourself to be active especially while working from home. The sedentary lifestyle can sneak up on your if you’re not keeping an eye on your activities. You’re doing a good job keep on top of that.

  8. Well when I was a stay at home mom with a busy husband…we did have a baby sitter and we went to the movies, shopping, swimming and what not. Just let go of your guilt and do what feels good. Also my kids knew that the hour after lunch was my hour for a rest with reading and knitting…they were used to it and did their own thing. It made me a nicer mom the rest of day ;o) and I always have a sock or so hiding in my bag, in case I have to wait some where…doctor, garage, etc. Go for it, claim some time for yourself, your knitting and the movies with husband! Xo Johanna

    • I do appreciate the encouragement. Thank you! It really means a lot coming from another mom who’s done it. My husband and I do try to free up some time for ourselves otherwise it just gets too much to handle. But I still feel guilty when it’s just for myself. ๐Ÿ˜€ Luckily, my kids are really good at playing together and independently. I have never heard them say they are bored. They always find something to do and play with. I think being so close in age (1 year apart) helps a lot. So during the day I get a bit of “me” time but sometimes I just need to be alone haha
      I always have a small knitting project in my bag too. Just in case I need to wait somewhere or have some idle time. So I am with you on that for sure. It’s the best way to fill the idle time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Perhaps it is my inherent laziness, but I like sitting and knitting/crocheting. It’s the time in the day when I rest, and I love it. I also don’t think I’m skilled enough to knit while moving!

  10. I completely agree with you, thank you so much for writing this post!
    I have been suffering from back injuries from the last few years, and knitting really helped me a lot, giving me something to focus on, keeping my brain satisfied with learning new skills, and giving me a sense of achievement whenever i finished a pair of socks ๐Ÿ™‚ I would have ended up getting very depressed without it! But it also gets in the way of other things sometimes…. I know that if I allow myself to start the day knitting, I won’t be able to put it down, and I ll make excuses for not stretching, or doing whatever else I need to do in terms of self care or anything else… When I’m knitting I get in the zone and I can just sit there for hours on end and be in total bliss. Like you, I hold my breath and sit there all day… And I procrastinate everything else.. And sitting for too long isn’t good for my back.
    So I make myself stretch first. I knit and I have break to do a few quick yoga stretches and get back into it again. It makes a bit difference ๐Ÿ™‚
    once I have started knitting, I still can’t stop though… So When I have procrastinated things for too long, over indulging in knitting and must catch up on stuff then I just avoid knitting altogether for a few days (gasp!) and being able to knit again is my reward ๐Ÿ™‚ for I know that if I get in the knitting zone I ll lose any notion of time… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I love your comment! It made me smile over and over again because I could absolutely see myself in your shoes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sorry to hear about your back. I know how difficult it could be. My dad has had problems with his back all his life and I’ve seen him in a lot of pain at times. I hope yours is better and heals quickly.
      Sometimes I get so covered in different colours yarn and trying to follow a pattern that I don’t even want to move haha But I guess you’re right – planning might just solve the problem. I’m just like you – if I start knitting in the morning, my whole day is busy with knitting. ๐Ÿ˜€ I like your system though. Stretching first, making sure you get up in certain periods of time. It’s very helpful. I usually use a timer for my workouts. Maybe it’s time to start using it when knitting too ๐Ÿ˜€
      Thanks for contributing to the discussion and sharing your experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Pingback: What moves you? – :: FocalHeart ::·

  12. Reblogged this on :: FocalHeart :: and commented:
    Good morning, I wanted to share here a great post from Funk Air Bear, which is about the problem a lot of knitters face…
    I have been suffering from back injuries from the last few years, and knitting really helped me a lot, giving me something to focus on, keeping my brain satisfied with learning new skills, and giving me a sense of achievement whenever i finished a pair of socks ๐Ÿ™‚ I would have ended up getting very depressed without it!
    But it also gets in the way of other things sometimes. I know that if I allow myself to start the day knitting, I wonโ€™t be able to put it down, and I’ll make excuses for not stretching, or doing whatever else I need to do in terms of self care, child care, work, etc…
    When Iโ€™m knitting I get in the zone and I can just sit there for hours on end and be in total bliss, while procrastinating everything else.
    Also, sitting for too long isnโ€™t good for my back. At all. It’s the worst thing to do.
    So I make myself stretch first with a yoga practice, which varies in length. I knit and make sure I take breaks to do a few quick yoga stretches and get back into it again. It makes a bit difference ๐Ÿ™‚
    Once I have started knitting, I still canโ€™t stop thoughโ€ฆ So When I have procrastinated things for too long, over indulging in knitting and must catch up on stuff then I just avoid knitting altogether for a few days (gasp!) and being able to knit again is my reward, for I know that if I get in the knitting zone I ll lose any notion of timeโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, that’s so tough. I can only imagine. I’ve seen these knitting belts somewhere. Maybe at a yarn market. I wonder how productive people were back then. Multitasking was a life skill.

  13. I do have to get up every now and then when I am knitting, crocheting or cross stitching, just so I don’t get so stiff. I have thought that sitting cannot be good, but not sure how combining crafts and exercise would really work out for me. About the getting out to do something for yourself…I say do it. You deserve it. And I am most sure the sitter doesn’t mind making some money for a couple of hours while you take care of you so that you can have peace of mind, get in some exercise or some kid free shopping. Don’t feel guilty about taking care of you. It will only make you feel better and give you that extra boost of energy that is sometimes needed when taking care of your family.

    • Aw thank you for the encouragement Ginny! I’m sure it will take me some time to get used to the idea but i will do it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you.
      You are right. Crafts and exercise are hard to combine. Lately I’ve started knitting standing up lol ๐Ÿ˜‚ I thought it is better than sitting and without moving around it makes it easier to rest my yarn on the table or kitchen counter.
      Good for you for making sure you move while crafting. It is an important of being healthy.

  14. I can’t do it, myself. I need to pay attention to what I’m doing, for one, and for another my body’s not always able to cooperate with anything but sitting (and even that is debatable at times). However, if you’ve ever been to see The Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) speak, you know it can be done. She always has a project in her hands, usually socks. And she will walk up and down the stage as she’s talking, knitting away as she does. It’s kind of incredible to watch, at least it was to me.

      • it definitely can. If you do intend to walk (would not advice running, though ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), I would suggest using a treadmill instead of the outdoors. Less chance of tripping over something ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I suppose if you just stuck to vanilla socks, it’d take a while to do the foot and leg. You’d just need to pay attention to toes and heels

      • Yes a treadmill is definitely safer. Maybe it’s just me and knitting socks but I am always anxious about making them the same. Maybe a scarf or a blanket would be easier to not pay attention to stitch count. Lol ๐Ÿ˜Š


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