Knitting for Mindfulness: Relieving Anxiety and Stress Winter 2024

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“In knitting, when you create the first stitch of a new project, you cast on. When an item is finished, you bind it off. Both of these actions, I’ve found are incredibly satisfying – the bookends of something manageable and finite. They give me a sense of completion in a world that will always and forever feel chaotic and incomplete.” – Former First Lady Michelle Obama, The Light We Carry In this studio course, intended for both beginners and more advanced knitters, students will be introduced to the calming, joyful and meditative practice of knitting as both a creative outlet and a means of reducing anxiety and stress. Throughout the course, students will improve their knitting techniques while exploring the many physical and mental health benefits associated with this practice. Through hands-on instruction, students will improve their foundational skills of knitting as well as learning the history, art and technique of stranded colorwork. They will also learn how to read a knitting pattern and how to select appropriate yarn and needles for knitting projects through in-person field trips to two local yarn studios. By the end of the course, students will write and produce their own stranded colorwork pattern and project. Throughout the course, students will explore how knitting can serve as a meditative practice, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress. In addition to developing technical skills, students will explore the cultural, social, and political dimensions of knitting. This includes examining the gendered history of knitting, and the ways in which knitting has been reclaimed by modern-day makers and activists. By the end of the course, students will have developed a foundational knowledge of knitting and mindfulness techniques as well as skills and techniques to explore their own creative designs through the production of a personal knitting pattern.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 15
Expected: NA
Class#: 1059
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Presentation(s); Creative project(s)
Prerequisites: Knitting basics preferred. Students should know how to cast on, knit, purl and cast off a knitting project.
Enrollment Preferences: Students will submit samples of their previous knitting projects to demonstrate basic understanding of the craft.
Unit Notes: Ashley Weeks Cart '05 is a Berkshire-based artist specializing in natural light portrait photography. When she doesn't have a camera in her hand, she has a pair of knitting needles. She's been knitting since age 8, thanks to her Grammy.
Materials/Lab Fee: $100. Lab and materials fees are covered by the Book Grant for all Williams financial aid recipients.
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
SLFX Winter Study Self-Expression
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration
WELL Winter Study Wellness

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