Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

Knitting and Well-being

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 09.27.47The latest issue of Textile: The Journal of Cloth & Culture includes “Knitting and Wellbeing” co-authored by the speakers from the Well-being panel I chaired at the In the Loop 3 conference held in 2012 in Winchester, England. Well-being is a slippery state to define. More encompassing than just the facts and figures of physical health, wellbeing is often used to acknowledge how we feel. The World Health Organization, cited by Betsan Corkhill and Jill Riley, defines wellbeing as, “An ability to realize personal potential, cope with daily stresses and contribute productively to society.” (World Health Organization 2009). This co-authored paper explores the varied ways knitting can contribute to our wellbeing.

The papers first presented during the wellbeing panel, which I chaired at the In the Loop 3 conference are reconfigured here as a co-authored paper. We have reordered our conference presentations for publication. Opening the paper are facts and figures – the very evidence of what many of us have felt or intuited – established by Betsan Corkhill and Jill Riley in their joint contribution on the therapeutic benefits of knitting. Angela Maddock follows here, not with the stuff of scientific reason, but its exact opposite: the symbolic contribution of knitting that is disrupted or troubled can signal in a narrative. My interest in the difficult identity of solitary knitting in literature, and the need to take stock of the current infatuation academic research holds for collaboration, now acts as the final contribution to this dialogue. (The irony that my first experience of co-authorship should occur when addressing the values of solitary production has not escaped us!) The outcome is eclectic, the voices varied; but so too are the many ways to consider the contribution knitting can make to our wellbeing today….