Culture of knitting in Finland
Crafts as well as knitting have long been an integral part of Finnish culture, hence why it is a part of the school curriculum and part of the tradition that has long been passed from one generation to the next. The Finns have long been keen knitters before it had a chance to become trendy, in Helsinki the art of knitting has been interwoven with charitable acts, lifestyle as well as wellbeing. Not only is knitting engaging and a fun way to unleash your creativity, it comes with a number of benefits that the less inclined have been unaware of thus far. There are many benefits to learning knitting: it’s good for your health, a relaxing pastime, brings joy to those around us, and is incredibly versatile. In Helsinki you are bound to bump into at least one knitter in every other café, meeting or the metro.
Leeni Hoimela, author of Urban Knit, from Helsinki’s charming Töölö district, creates knitwear, inspired by the city around her. Focusing on monochrome colours and patterns inspired by Töölö window frames, she finds knitting to be her ‘yoga’. Closing your computer and focusing on a new pattern – the more difficult it is the higher concentration – is the ultimate way to unwind after work. Hoimela is used to the cold and freezing winters and finds knitwear to be the perfect defence against the cold.
Helsinkians have discovered the health benefits of knitting
In recent times, we have all had the opportunity to spend a lot more time at home than ever before. While the pace of life in recent times has decreased there has unfortunately been a significant increase in issues relating to people’s mental health. Thus, a fun activity that gets your creative juices flowing and engages your cognitive skills is the natural method to improve your mental health.
Research shows that knitting, crocheting, and crafting all have a significant link to lowering stress levels, as well as the symptoms of depression and increasing your body’s dopamine production. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy published a study that defended the positive effect knitting has on the wellbeing of adults. The study displayed that there is a significant relationship between the act of knitting and feeling calm and happy. Furthermore, the hobby has also been linked to reducing arthritis and relieving chronic pain.
It turns out the repetitive nature of knitting and crocheting is what helps your brain relax, while the creative high of actually making something with your hands signals your body to naturally release dopamine, the "feel-good chemical" our body produces to make us happy. The various studies conclude that the health benefits of knitting include; lowered blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, slowed onset of dementia, distraction from chronic pain, increased sense of wellbeing, and reduced loneliness and isolation and serves as a distraction from thoughts that might occupy us otherwise.
Knitting helps spread joy
Knitting is a gift that keeps giving, a humble hobby that doesn’t require much equipment and can easily be self-taught, or be a great choice to opt for when thinking of ideas of what to gift loved ones. Though a handmade gift is welcome any time, a piece of knitwear at Christmas is the perfect way to remember your loved ones with a gift that will be essential during the cold months.
Helsinki has an array of craft stores where you find the most intricate and coolest yarn; Menita on Korkeavuorenkatu, Snurre on Yrjönkatu and Kässäkammari on Hämeentie as well as Lankamaailma in Oulunkylä. Once you’ve gathered your yarn, it is time to get inspired, find a range of patterns and inspiring ideas from Laine Magazine.
Knitting in Helsinki has become an antidote to hectic work days spent largely in front of screens. Finns knit when on holiday, at their cottage, in the evening, and on the weekends. Helsinkians’ trait towards having a creative streak in them often comes out through the act of knitting. Others in the city see it as part of a relaxed, slow way of winding down. Sustainable choices reach also the world of knitting and many advocate for choosing fibers and projects that support an ethical agenda.
Knitters can not be classified into a stereotypical bespectacled granny as Helsinki sees knitters from all backgrounds. Hundreds of patterns in a positively baffling variety of colours reflect the wide variety of people who partake in this pastime. Finnish magazines, a range of blogs, and public discourse underline the popularity of knitting in Helsinki.
In Helsinki knitting can be charity
If knitting with value is of importance to you, Helsinki has seen a steady growth in charitable knitting. Facebook groups, organisations and neighbourhood teams have taken up knitting for a good cause.
Thousands of people craft beanies and socks, and the finished pieces are often sent to maternity wards and hospitals, as well as many other charitable causes. The socks and beanies are not only helping keep newborns warm and cosy, but they tend to be colourful, helping to make a statement right from birth. Knitted breasts – yes you read that correctly – have also seen a trend in Helsinki. Knitted breasts (round and filled with cotton) feature a life-size areola and nipple, helping new mothers practice and learn about breastfeeding. Additionally a new wave of donations have been made to give chemotherapy patients knitwear.
Knitting is a craft anyone can master, bringing with it a large community to be a part of, while contributing to the well-being – both mental and physical – of those around us. Knitting is for everyone and so is the joy it brings us all.