Knitting as a healing activity for the mind
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.”~ Elizabeth Zimmermann~

Knitting can be very therapeutic, that is why it was introduced in the CAR shelter, Solid’s residential care centre for girls who have experienced (sexual) violence. These young girls receive therapy to process their traumas, but most importantly, the shelter is a place where they are able to take up a normal life again, in a safe environment. The girls go back to school, take on hobbies and need activities like knitting to stay distracted. This is especially important during this pandemic, as their world is limited to the grounds of the centre. Because covid-19 is still spreading, they have to stay inside, can’t see as many people as they would like to and have to follow all of their classes online.

When the team introduced knitting as an activity, they motivated the girls by promising them that they would be able to sell their products. But soon the employees in the team started to question themselves. What if it doesn’t sell? They wouldn’t want to disappoint the girls or make false promises. The girls gave it their best, with many of them learning how to knit from scratch. They practiced very hard and eventually, they got the hang of it and were able to make finished products, ready to be sold. The marketing was set up, with a catalogue and a proper logo. The knitwork improved with every product and especially the knitted slippers (Babuchas) sold really well. The girls kept some of the products for themselves, others were able to send their families a small present or could save the money they made with the sale of the products. The money they earn with knitting is more than welcome, especially during the pandemic. So far, together they have earned S/. 159,00 soles (€36) to put in their savings!

Daniela:          “I didn’t know how to knit but I learned it in the CAR. It was difficult in the beginning because I was afraid to make mistakes and to have to start all over again. I just thought it was really difficult. On the day I finished my first hat, I was very excited. It was unbelievable to know that I could do that, because before I came to CAR, I was very insecure. Today I can say that the insecurity has faded because I am able to knit hats, headbands, sweaters and slippers in different stiches, all while earning some pocket money. I have the feeling now that I am able to do lots of things. A message I want to share?  ‘Knitting helps you to stay focused on your goal and makes you forget your problems, while earning money for your savings’.”

Knitting learned these girls how to break the limiting believes they had about themselves, which were strengthened by the abusive situations they have encountered in their lives. They often feel like they are not strong enough, not smart enough or not good enough. And this internal voice is often fed by the judgements of their families or society. 

Stitch by stitch they realized that they could make something, that they could reach their goals and believe in themselves and their abilities. That they could start dreaming again. By encouraging them to make something, we help them to overcome these feelings of limiting believes. Those who have learned to knit, help each other with new stitches and patterns. Teaching also enhances the feeling of accomplishment. This project has been very successful. Every girl who started knitting has learned not only how to knit, but also how to trust her own abilities more.

Nurturing the spirit
- Gardening @ CAR