UIndy RSO Hooks and Needles provides stress relief through knitting

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Graphic by Hallie Gallinat

Being a college student in 2021 is a stressful time, with 48% of college students saying they are experiencing moderate or severe psychological stress, according to a study by the American College Health Association. Hooks and Needles, a Registered Student Organization, has sought out a way for students to not only relieve stress, but to learn a new skill, according to founder and alum Mariana Rosendo. The organization began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020 when Rosendo realized there was a community of those interested in knitting on campus.

“A lot of people that I met that also knitted and everything, we could never find somebody else to knit with, because they come to a lot of different problems like you make a mistake and don’t know how to fix it,” Rosendo said. “Having somebody else who knows how to do it as well is really helpful because we can help each other with projects and stuff and have an outlet to de-stress. It’s very therapeutic to do it over and over again.”

Rosendo, who has been knitting for four years, said that besides the stress relief they have also been able to use their knitting skills for good around the community. She said that during her time in the club, they did several service projects for the community.

“We made close to 20 knitted hats to donate to a homeless shelter for the winter. And we also taught people how to knit scarves to give to a home for the elderly,” Rosendo said. “… I’m really happy that we were able to do it with the university helping us, we wouldn’t be able to do it without that support.”

While supplying materials for students, Hooks and Needles also helps other students learn how to knit and crochet, according to Rosendo. One of those students who has learned through Hooks and Needles is its current president and senior exercise science major Savanna Yates. She said that she was originally introduced to Hooks and Needles through the RSO’s partnerships with another organization on campus called Glamour Gals. 

“In partnering, that’s how I learned to knit, just [by] doing a lot of hats,” Yates said. “I’m really good friends with Mariana [Rosendo], so having someone that they trust and understand that is willing to do the background work for a club was a good segue to moving into the next year.”

Currently, the club consists of eight to ten members and meets bi-weekly in the basement of Schwitzer Student Center where everyone in the club brings in their materials and projects to work on, according to Yates. The club also schedules trips to stores like JOANN Fabrics and Crafts where members will buy more materials for their projects, Yates said. 

Yates said that the primary goal of the organization is to breed a community of people with a shared interest and to allow for an outlet of stress relief for its members. She said that they also do a lot of pattern sharing.

“We’ve had some really cool patterns that people have shared for their projects, because everybody’s like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool. I want to work on something like that,’” Yates said. “They send it in the group chat. And so …  it’s spurred a lot of other projects.”

The club has members with all different majors from the university, according to Yates. She said that for many of the members, having the scheduled time to relax and de-stress has been incredibly valuable. Yates said that for herself, it’s nice to have a set time to practice her knitting and work on her own projects while spending time with others. 

Moving forward, Yates said the main goal is to get new members and inspire others to take up the hobby of knitting and crocheting. She said she hopes to continue to do more service projects and to do more in club events like their Knit-A-Thon.

“We did that [Knit-A-Thon] a couple years back, so you give them a set amount of rows, and you have to do as much as you can in a certain amount of time,” Yates said. “We decided this year [to do knitting] because the year before we had it where you could knit or crochet. And we learned that the crocheters go really fast. So we decided we’re going to split it and have a specific Knit-A-Thon and a specific Crochet-A-Thon and have prizes for whoever wins.”

According to Yates, what makes Hooks and Needles different from other RSOs is the flexibility that the club allows and the community surrounding it. Yates said her biggest advice for others that may be interested in knitting or crocheting is to just try it. 

“You don’t have to have the skills to come join because I was terrified. I thought I was gonna be a terrible knitter and honestly, it’s not bad, my first hat was pretty good. I only had a couple of little errors and I was very proud of it,” Yates said. “Marianna was also baffled because they did not think I was gonna do well either. Don’t get in your own way. That’s the biggest thing I want to tell people is just, you may not think that this is your thing, but just try it.”

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