At the Knitter's Guild meeting last night, they had Sally Melville as a speaker. She lives nearby, and has authored several knitting books, and her talk was on Why We Knit. Besides mentioning things like the social aspects and the making things, I was glad to see that she spoke a good deal about the effects on the brain and behaviour, and even brought up related research that had been done on things like stress relief (although obviously not the case on the days when you're raging because the knitting isn't working) and continuous learning as a method of warding off dementia. She also went into a lot of the same reasons that I disagreed with a speaker at school who said that you shouldn't put knitting on your resume. Knitting teaches math skills and 3-D visualization, focus and patience, dexterity and coordination, and goal setting, among other things, and those are all good skills and traits to have.
The one part that rather surprised me, though, was when she was talking about 'product' versus 'process' knitting. The former means you knit in order to get a particular item, and the latter that you knit because you enjoy making it, even if the end product is useless. Sally was saying that most knitters in North America can afford to be, and are, process knitters. She suggested there were lots of people who make things and then never wear them, and her tag line was 'Make what you wear, wear what you make', look at what's in your closet, and if you have something you love, then make different versions of the same, in different fibers or colors. I have to admit that puzzled me a bit. I personally wear/use everything I make, or the people who receive it do. But I do enjoy the process as well, and there are so many great patterns out there and ideas in my head, that even if I have a sweater I made and love, chances are I won't make that pattern again but try something different. And I think most of the people I know who knit are the same. Unless they have a specific request for a pattern, they will try new ones all the time, and they will wear them, too! So I don't know who she's been studying, 'cause it wasn't us.