for the love of shawls...


My friend recently sent me a link to an article called "Knitting Myself Back Together." It was a sweet little BuzzFeed post that inspired me to do a little research. Anecdotally, I know that knitting really helps calm my anxious mind and I find it very rewarding, but I wanted to see if there was any formal research out there. Guess what? There is! In fact - there is a book: "The Creative Cure: Building Happiness With You Own Two Hands" by Alton and Carrie Barron, M.D.s.

The book explains that not only does the mathematical and rhythmic nature of knitting healthily absorb your mind in a way that allows for internal reflection and an escape from stressful thoughts, knitting also promotes the use of your hands meaningfully which then triggers healthy activity and engagement in approximately 60% of your brain. Knitting promotes both hand health (yep, that's a 'thing') and cognitive function. And the authors even consider knitting a good work out - take that CrossFit.

And just to get even more educational for you: In 2011 the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neuroscience explained that, during middle age, watching less TV coupled with knitting promotes the development of neural pathways and decreases the odds of memory loss and later cognitive impairment by 30-50%. Phewf, because I can't afford luminosity.

Actually, the truth is that knitting isn't an inexpensive hobby. So if you ever ask a friend to knit something for you, that's something to be mindful of. I sometimes think that people may not realize how much money and time and thought and even love, goes into knitting… But it is also very rewarding of the knitter too. In fact, according to a recent survey published, 81% of the 3,500 knitters  described themselves as "a little happy" to "very happy" when asked to report their mood post-knitting.  (This survey is published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2013) If asked, I would say very very very happy post-knitting. It's such a nice feeling to see your finished object! Here's a link to some of my work.

Another super amazing thing about knitting is the connections I have built with knitters all over the world thanks to social media. In fact, I recently co-hosted a knit-a-long (KAL) over Instagram to knit a very special pattern created by an independent dyer/designer who I absolutely adore.

Say hello to Lisa Mutch of Northbound Knitting (NBK)

Lisa is wearing her gorgeous Clinquant Shawl in my favourite NBK colourway Mettalurgy

Based in Barrie Ontario, Canada, Lisa specializes in the most unique hand dyes for yarn and fibre. She also has an incredible eye for design and creates the most stunning statement accessories and uniquely feminine garments. She has mad skills, people, and she is hands down my all-time-favourite designer/dyer. Her hand-dyed yarn is so beautiful. See…..
If you have a knitter in your life and want to gift them something very special - Lisa's yarn and patterns are the way to go. Your knitting pal will not be disappointed (and she has gift cards too). I was lucky enough to be chosen to test knit a pattern for Lisa last year and that's when my love for her talent started. She is so approachable, friendly, giving, knowledgeable and generous with her time that it makes supporting her a no-brainer. Check her out, really. She is always posting on her Facebook Page to let her customers/fans know when her shop updates will be. Be warned, her yarn sells out fast because it's that nice!

Lisa is also known for her stunning shawl designs. According to Lisa

"From a designer's perspective, I love how versatile [shawls] are, how they can virtually be any shape, any design, colour size. They're like a blank slate where the possibilities are endless. From a knitter's perspective, I love the long rows, circular needles, how I can scrunch the shawl in progress up and shoot it into my purse. And then binding off a shawl, wet blocking it and pinning it out to dry. Suddenly the shawl transforms from what seems like endless crowded stitches on a needle to a beautiful piece of knitted art."

I must say I wasn't too sure what all the hype was about knitting shawls. But Lisa says it best. They are so amazing to knit and they really do transform into something so beautiful. If you are a knitter and haven't knit one yet - I urge you to give it a shot and you'll understand why they are so incredible. And Lisa has so many nice patterns to choose from. I'd love to hear about your experience shawl knitting.

The shawl I picked for the KAL is her luxurious, bold and dramatic Clinquant design. Knitters from all over Canada (including the East Coast, Ontario and B.C.), knitters from all over the States (including Wyoming, Montana, Houston, New York) and one knitter from Greece all played along and submitted tagged photos as they knit. Two knitters were randomly selected at the end to win a pattern of their choice from Northbound Knitting.

Here are some, but not all, of the pictures that were submitted.

And the winners:

And me and my Clinquant:

This is the first item that I have knit that I am keeping for myself. I wear it every single day while I have a cup of coffee, and it's so cozy and pretty. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this and I think any knitter would. Thanks Lisa!


  1. I started knitting as something to do while I was waiting for my son who had long therapy sessions. And I literally fell down a rabbit hole. Its been non-stop since. Lisa is also my favorite dyer/designer and a very dear friend. I've gotten to a point where I really only use NBK now. Its just the best. I typically stick with her grays, but chanterelle is my favorite contrast color. You are correct though, if you are shopping via shop update, you had better be fast! She sells out quickly.

    I love doing the IG KALs. Seeing everyone's progress through photos. Its a lovely way to join in without a lot of pressure. So fun! Thanks for hosting this one. :)

  2. What a beautiful tribute to the lovely Lisa Mutch. I love all of her designs and her yarn is scrumptious. I had the privilege of joining this KAL. It was so much fun. I so enjoyed seeing everyone's progress. Each shawl was unique and beautiful . I look forward to the next KAL ;-) a special thank you to Jessie for all she did to organize this project. YOU ROCK!

  3. I'm a meditating psychotherapist and couldn't agree more about the fact that knitting reduces stress. So does sketching but hey I'll save that thought. Will go look at Lisa's site. By the way -there is some ghost text that appears on this post -appears to be about nausea and lupus and doesn't appear whe calling the comments up. Never seen anything like it before and maybe it is only my computer but thought I'd mention it. Weird!