What is knit’n’natter?

This group has a long history, originally starting in the Business School following a reorganisation in 2012, and then extending its reach more broadly across the University, knit’n’natter was formed to provide a social networking opportunity to get people away from their desk and be creative.  Although the group did take a short break it was resurrected last Summer as part of the CoSS Wellbeing initiative.  Since 2012 I can think of at least 10 people who have learned to knit through the group, however, things are less ‘hands-on’ at the moment!

Knitting group chattingOver the years the knit’n’natter group have embarked on a number of different community/charity projects, including the AgeUK Innocent bigknit campaign, knitting Twiddle Muffs which were donated to the QEH dementia unit, poppies sold in University House for the Royal British Legion and most recently blankets for the Birmingham Women’s Hospital Neonatal unit.

Whilst campus has been closed we’ve stayed connected by sharing photos through a private Instagram account and Zoom get togethers.  Zoom doesn’t work quite so well for those who are looking to get hands on support in learning to knit, however, what we have done is gone beyond sharing our usual knitting, crocheting and embroidering projects with each other.

Margaret, group founder

Crochet eggsI decided to start knit’n’natter to bring people together, it started with brief conversations to see if there was enough interest.  There were lots of colleagues who were very keen to learn to knit and the group was ‘born’.  Looking back I can’t believe the group has been going for so long, having a common interest brings us together and starts a conversation.  Although I was a prolific knitter in my youth, the knit’n’natter group restarted my knitting habit and also spurred me on to try new things.

Knitting, or being creative, provides me with a way to relax at the end of the working day and sharing my interest through knit’n’natter has provided a local community bringing knitters (and crafters) together. During lockdown just seeing everything others were creating has been lovely and I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to act as a conduit to share photos of completed projects amongst the group, I work with such a talented group of people. 

It’s not just about knitting

If you already love needlecrafts, whether an expert or just for fun, at knit’n’natter you’ll find a group of colleagues who are happy to tell you where they buy fabrics, yarns and patterns, and admire your work.  For those new to this type of craft then we’re a group of people who will support you and help you find resources to get started.  Hands-on help might not be so easy at the moment but YouTube is a great way to get started and knit’n’natter will give you support from ‘real people’ for those bits that just didn’t make any sense!  We can all find reasons for not moving away from our desks, knit’n’natter provides a reason for taking time out to talk with people you may not otherwise see during your working week.  Before the campus closed getting to knit’n’natter usually involved a brisk walk to Staff House, however, even the current 30 minute lunchtime Zoom meetings give me a boost for the afternoon.

Close up of woman's hand with knittingWhy should you take up a craft as a hobby?  Many of you will have come across mindfulness, perhaps through the sessions organised by the University/College/School.  Through the practice of mindfulness you will understand that focusing the mind on a simple repetitive action is a meditative process.  Washing up dishes is a good example of this, being mindful means being present and focused on the task in hand, even washing up – try it.

Research has shown that sitting to knit helps to reduce your heart rate and lower your blood pressure within a few minutes.  I have to admit as a novice knitter you may not believe this when you are trying to master a new skill, just remember that using both hands at once to make different movements actually simulates and strengthens brain function, and at the end of your first project you will be immensely proud of what you have managed to produce.  Once you have mastered knitting the repetitive rhythm helps with serotonin release, this chemical regulates anxiety, happiness and mood.

WARNING! – Knitting can be addictive, once you start you may not be able to stop!

During Lockdown more people have discovered their creative side, we’ve seen some examples in the CoSS @Home features.  Following the launch of MS Teams a UoB Crafts Team site has been set up and a variety of crafting projects have already been shared, including recycling, jewellery making, sewing, macramé, and decoupage.  If you don’t think knit’n’natter is for you then maybe you’d like to join the UoB Crafts group on Teams.

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