Jane has known Deb since they were in Lamaze together, but lately their friendship has been strained. Deb's knitting on weekends has turned her into a completely different person. Deb used to cook meals from the Moosewood Cookbook and and go to the gym, but since she started knitting she has been hitting Boston Market and she has quit pilates altogehter.
When Jane saw Deb buy 3 skeins of Collinette and 1,500 yards of Silk Garden in 30 minutes at two different yarn stores, she realized how serious Deb's problem was. She knows what Deb is doing: binge knitting.
What Is Binge Knitting?
Binge knitting used to mean knitting heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of fiber over a short period of time (just as binge eating means a specific period of uncontrolled overeating - but we don't do that anymore).
Today the generally accepted definition of binge knitting in the United States is the commencement of five or more projects at the same time by women — or three or more projects by men — at least once in the previous 2 weeks. Heavy binge knitting includes three or more such episodes in a month.
Why Do People Binge Knit?
Celebrities, yarn stores and overachieving co-workers make knitting seem attractive and fun. It's easy for an uncreative, overstressed middle aged woman - or man! to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. Inevitably, one of the biggest areas of peer pressure is knitting.
Other reasons why people knit include:
- They're curious — they want to know what it's like to work with fiber.
- They believe that it will make them feel good, not realizing it could just as easily make them sick and broke.
- They may look at knitting as a way to reduce stress, even though it can end up creating more stress.
- They want to feel older.
What Are the Risks of Binge Knitting?
Many people don't think about the negative side of knitting. Although they think about the possibility of going broke, they may not give much consideration to having to hide yarn or throwing up.
You may know from experience that excessive knitting can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge knitting carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.
Yarn poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge knitting. When someone knits too much and gets yarn poisoning, it affects the body's involuntary reflexes — including credit card use and the ability to hide yarn purchases, or "gag reflex". If the gag reflex isn't working properly, a person can choke to death on his or her vomit.
Other signs someone may have yarn poisoning include:
- extreme confusion about the color wheel
- inability to be distracted from knitting blogs
- little flecks of fiber in or around the mouth
- very soft hands ("lanolin-ification")
If you think someone has yarn poisoning, call 911 immediately.
Binge knitting impairs judgment, so knitters are more likely to take risks they might not take when they're not knitting. They may drive while knitting and injure themselves or others. Driving isn't the only motor skill that's impaired, though. Walking is also more difficult while knitting. In 2000, roughly one third of pedestrians 16 and older who were killed in traffic accidents were knitting.Physical Health
Studies show that people who binge knit throughout high school are more likely to be overweight and broke by the time they are 24. Just one regular skein of Noro costs about $12 per 100 ard skein, which adds up to a lot of moolah if someone knits four or five scarves a week.
Binge knitters have a harder time in school and they're more likely to drop out. Knitting disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance, being broke and vomiting.
People who binge knit may find that their non-knittingfriends drift away — which is what happened with Jane and Deb. Knitting can affect personality; people might become angry or moody while knitting, for example, especially when you interrupt them when they are counting rows.
If you think you or a friend have a binge-knitting problem, get help as soon as possible. The best approach is to talk to an adult you trust — if you can't approach your parents, talk to your doctor, school counselor, clergy member, aunt, or uncle.
It can be hard for some people to talk to adults about these issues, so an alternative could be a trusted friend or older sibling who is easy to talk to. Knitting too much can be the result of social pressures, and sometimes it helps to know there are others who have gone through the same thing. If you're worried, don't hesitate to ask someone for help.
(For information on how the other obessession can ruin your life, check this out)