Image by Jun Cen courtesy of The New York Times
There's a recent article from the New York Times making its way around social media. It's called "How to Become a Superager." It's about why some people over 65 are so sharp and mentally engaged while others suffer from forgetfulness, limited attention span, and other things we associate with aging brains. Turns out that what actually staves off brain atrophy and Alzheimer's is not Sudoku or reading or other simple and pleasant tasks. The key is hard work. You need to engage in activities that make you think so hard your brain hurts a little bit. So, as much as we've heard that knitting and crocheting are good for the brain, it's not as simple as that.
The benefits to your brain don't come until you're really struggling. You need to engage in activities that really tax you and make you feel "tired, stymied, frustrated". It has to hurt. As the Marines say, "Pain is weakness leaving your body." And so it is. Does that mean you need to drop your knitting needles and crochet hook and pick up a differential equations textbook? Of course not, but it does mean that you need to challenge yourself more with the things you do enjoy. Your hundredth garter stitch scarf is not going to keep you sharp, but a challenging project will. Students in Ginni's Rigoles Shawl class are definitely building brain muscle in the superaging region.
As with physical exercise, the point at which you feel the burn depends on your fitness level. If you're a knitter, learn to crochet with Antonella. If you're a crocheter, learn to knit. Getting started knitting socks with Jenny would do it. Already a sock knitter? Try doing it from the toe up - or two at a time. Our Lisa Barnes weekend offers plenty of opportunities to stretch your brain. Sign up even if you don't feel ready for it. Stretching yourself is exactly what you need. Ginni's double knitting class is another great one - Look for her brioche class coming up next month. If you're a beginner, something with a pattern stitch is going to do it. Mary's next Mystery Shawl KAL will feature lots of different stitches for you to learn. You will grow, and you will love it.
While you should be challenged and frustrated by some projects, we don't want you to get so frustrated that you give up, so we're here to help. When you take one of our classes that's a little bit over your head, we're on here to support you. Don't be afraid to call or stop by between scheduled class times if you need a little guidance. The "magic table" is always available, and you are always welcome here.