Overcoming obstacles one stitch at a time; Ottawa Knitters prove craft can be beneficial towards well-being and mental health

As the ball of yarn continues getting smaller with each growing row off the needle, what was once a simple strand of string now becomes a creative work of art. Each tap moves the stitch from one needle to the other, beginning a steady repetition of the pattern.

For centuries, knitting has been a method in making clothing and types of fabric. But as some find solace in yoga or meditation, Janine Trimble, IM policy analyst from the social sciences and humanities research council of Canada, has been using knitting as a way of coping with stress and anxiety.

Making the move from London, Ont. to Ottawa for school in 2011, Trimble faced a lot of changes at one time: a demanding program, a new city and a new home far away from her parents.


What was her constant comfort? Knitting.

“It was something I did as a hobby that turned into a way of managing my stress,” said Trimble.

Trimble is not alone in that regard, in fact, research from Knit by Peace highlighted multiple benefits knitting can have on a person’s overall well being. Helping to deal with stress and anxiety by reducing blood pressure, knitting can also be a social gathering tool.

None of Trimble’s friends at the time knew how to knit. And none of them shared the patience or passion to learn.

“I thought, maybe if I transitioned my focus to interacting with other people in the knitting community,” said Trimble, “maybe I could meet people that would understand this aspect of my life and also add some social elements to my knitting life as well.”

Once she created a separate and public Instagram account @WillcoKnits, she quickly found her tribe.

“This girl messaged me, and said ‘Hey, I’m new to knitting. Every Monday we have a big meetup and all get together.'” But while Trimble had her doubts, as most age groups that knit together are more mature, she was happily surprised.

“I showed up and it was great,” said Trimble. “It was a group of about 15 people, ages ranged from mid 20s to mid 30s. It was really like, ‘Oh my God, I found my people!'”

Since beginning her Instagram account, Trimble has built a respectable following of over 1000 members.


She frequently attends craft fairs and markets in the city. She also has an Etsy store where she showcases and sells her work.

Finding a social craft group or even an online community forum can be simple. Raverly.com is basically the knitters and crocheters Facebook. A social network for crafters to share and chat.

“Having that group of people that understand, who want to build you up and help you along the way, opened a lot of doors for me,” said Trimble.

“From the girl who was sitting alone in her dorm room, having to manage anxiety and stress, to being here.”

While easing minds and creating a safe space, knitting can also be viewed as a productive outlet that allows your brain to relax and recharge.

Trimble says she tends to keep a piece of work with her, that way if she gets the urge or has the time, she’ll knit.

Same goes for University of Ottawa second year psychology major, Gwen Belyea-Munro.

“I bring it with me to campus, that way if i have any down time or between classes I can just zone out,” said Belyea-Munro.


“It definitely helps de-stress.”

Also learning at a young age and leaving home to go to school in Ottawa, knitting has been a constant pleasure for her as well.

“My dad bought me a book when I was six, that had some basics of stitching,” said Belyea-Munro. “With practice and video tutorials on YouTube I got better.”

“I’m mostly known for my socks,” she said. “I enjoy making them, and everyone needs socks, you can never truly have enough socks.”


If you’re currently searching for a creative outlet to de stress, a way to connect with local residents or just simply want to try something new, try picking up a ball of yarn.

“It’s okay to make mistakes, and trust me, you will,” said Belyea-Munro.

“We have the fidget spinners and tangle toys, but, this just feels like the adult version,” said Trimble.