For most students, attending lengthy classes entails having to keep still and quiet, which can often make it difficult to focus and pay attention. For junior English major Penelope Epple (they/their), however, knitting is the answer, and you will often find them knitting during class and on the Mount campus.
Through taking an art class with a concentration on knitting in the fourth grade, Penelope unknowingly began a life-long hobby. Since grade school, Penelope has knitted on and off for years and has also dabbled in the intricate crafts of origami and beading, though they always went back to knitting with the assistance of helpful internet videos.
As someone who went undiagnosed with ADHD for years, Penelope had to learn to concentrate in class on their own, and began bringing their knitting projects to class in high school to work on during free time. Realizing that keeping their hands busy allowed their mind to focus, Penelope started knitting in class, because many simpler patterns don’t require you to look at them while you work. Currently, Penelope has been knitting a colorful striped sweater at school and during spare their time.
Alongside knitting to help focus in class, Penelope says knitting helps them handle stress and anxiety. “Knitting gives me something else I can focus on,” they say, “If something gets to be too much I can just concentrate on making each new stitch.” Though there is not one specific hobby that will work to reduce everyone’s stress and aid in concentration, Penelope believes that it is very beneficial to find what works for you. For Penelope, finishing a knitting piece brings them a sense of achievement that they have rarely gotten from school, which is what they say many students who have attention deficits often feel like.
There are two pieces of clothing Penelope has knitted that they are particularly proud of, having designed the intricate patterns by themselves. One is a sweater with the pattern of ancient Greek poetess Sappho on it and the other is a circular shawl that features an accurate representation of the stars in the night sky above the North Pole, which includes glow in the dark beads for the stars.
Whether you find a hobby that helps you focus in school, helps you lessen stress and anxiety, one that keeps you away from technology for a little while, or one that just brings you joy, you should pursue it. A resurgence of creative craftsmanship is on the rise in young people, so don’t hesitate to find a hobby that not only benefits your health and wellness, but also makes you happy.