By Morgan Nguyen, Senior Staff Writer
Despite serving as a pasttime for a host of generations, crafting is gaining increased popularity and a new marketing image as a stress-reducer.
The New York Times recently published an article discussing the chief benefits of knitting - it enhances self-esteem and induces an almost meditative state.
Dr. Herbert Berson, a leading researcher in mind and body medicine is quoted saying the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. The craftwork can lower blood pressure, heart rate and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Junior Megan Davis, a member of the club Knotty Knitters, finds this observation holds true in meetings.
"Sitting still bothers me, so being able to keep my hands moving reduces my stress," said Davis. "I think the weekly meetings are a nice study break for most people."
Many experts also applaud the social context of crafting in boosting mood.
"What is great about knitting and crocheting is that you can do it while doing something else. I can talk to my roommate or watch TV and still work on a project," said Davis.
Many mental health blogs discuss the benefit of crafting in dealing with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression related to change in seasons and common in winter.
Crafting on campus is presumably at the year's height, with many sorority members preparing gifts for incoming new members ("littles"). Among other things, many women decorate their Greek letters and put together picture frames.
"I did a lot of canvas paintings, probably more than I should have," said sophomore Monika Barrett, a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. "I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so crafting for my little was a bit stressful, but my mom taught me how to crochet and I've found that to be very relaxing."
Barrett says focusing on the stitches clears her mind of everything else.
"The act of painting and drawing with some light music in the background is a great way to practice mindfulness and to take my mind off whatever stress I may be feeling," added sophomore Antonia Caba-Turner, a member of Kappa Delta sorority. "I definitely found that crafting was calming and relaxing."
In the crafting market, one of the most popular trends is adult coloring books - currently, three out of the top 10 best-selling books on Amazon fall in the category. At one point, Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford's titles "Secret Garden" and "Enchanted Forest" claimed spots ahead of Harper Lee's highly anticipated sequel "Go Set a Watchman" and George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" books.
"They really help me relax," said sophomore Bridget Pollard. "I think the ability to make the image whatever you want really helps as well. You have freedom to decide and can actually control the outcome."