Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do Knitting and Sewing Encourage Weight Gain?*

There are lots of theories why so many Americans are overweight: we don't eat enough fiber, we eat too much protein, we don't lift enough weight, we don't walk enough or we live in houses where the walls have chemicals that make us fat (I read this somewhere really). I'm not sure what I believe, but I know we're all sitting around a lot more than we used to, typing on the computer and watching television (I do plenty of the former, but not the latter only because I don't own a television set, but I do love watching TV.)

If we are all sitting down a lot more, is it any small wonder that sewing and knitting, both plop-down-on-a-chair-make-yourself-comfortable hobbies, are popular? I suppose you could stand up and knit, but somehow it's a bit cumbersome. Your yarn has go to somewhere, perhaps your pocket or in a bag on your shoulder. Anytime I've been knitting while standing, it's been for a short period of time. Ten minutes maximum, at a bus stop waiting for the next no. 96 to arrive. Then I'm supremely gratified to rest my tush on a seat and knit some more.

Sewing while I'm on my two feet? I've never done it, although it seems like it's possible. I'd just need a taller table. I think if I had this kind of set-up I wouldn't sew as much as I do. I just enjoy compressing my spine a lot, you know? Sitting down and sewing just seems to be do the thing to do. I can easily stop, rip out stitching, take a sip of pop, sigh, sew some more, make another mistake, get that seam ripper out again and burn a few calories destroying what I've just made. Try do that while standing at some point. Impossible.

To be honest though, most of my time resting-my-behind time is in front of the computer, not in front of my Viking Husqvarna 735 or with my Noro yarn short-sleeve sweater-in-progress at my side. The computer is the enemy more so than my hobbies.

Still I wonder if I shouldn't be working out more instead of sewing or knitting. Both of these hobbies honestly just encourage me to eat. Knitting is particularly bad for my waistline. When I go to the yarn store? Do I make a beeline for the newest Vogue Knitting? No, I go to the spot where there's food. Usually it's chips, or if I'm lucky, a chocolate cake for a knitter celebrating a birthday. One of the major reasons I go to this knitting group is for the complimentary eats. I fill my paper plate with Sunchips, brie cheese, crackers, some grapes and at least one sweet before I sit down next to a fellow knitter. And then I nosh all through the business report, the topic of the night and show and tell. Of course, I am working on my project while I'm eating. We all are. It's knit, ssk, p, crunch, knit, ssk, crunch, crunch, crunch, Swallow! Sip, sip, sip. Oh, my! Look at how my sweater is coming along!

I don't eat as much while I'm sewing. I'm just so caught up in what I'm doing. Sometimes I will go for hours without eating. I feel like like I'll lose the magic if I get up from the sewing machine. So I'll sit there my stomach growling like a mountain lion (I'm sooo hungry! I can't stop now. Just one more row. I've got to fix this first and then I'll grab a bite to eat. Wow. Time to press. Walk, walk, walk, to bedroom to turn on the iron. Steam, press, steam. Wow, this is looking great. I cannot possibly stop now. I'm almost done. When I finish the shoulder seam, I'll treat myself to a sandwich at Subway.)

Finally, it's dusk. I'm famished. I discover there's nothing to eat in my crusty refrigerator, but I'm too fatigued to walk over to Subway and I'm much too frugal to order carry out. So I starve overnight and wake up pounds lighter.

I should note the above scenario is more rare than a no. 22 bus that arrives at the corner of Lunt and Wolcott on time. Usually I have a cup of green tea sitting on the far end of my sewing table (so I don't tip it over) while I'm facing my computerized sewing machine. Liquids are ok when I'm in the midst of Creation, but no food. I'm not sure why.

I doubt I'll spend less time sewing or knitting. I stitch at night after the day's work is done or on the weekends. Looping yarn on long needles or circulars is done mostly on the road while I'm squeezed next to someone on the Red Line subway train hurtling into the Loop and there's no food in sight. I just had a revelation: I only eat while I'm knitting with other people also knitting. I just need to be less social. That's it. No more hanging out with dozens of other women at Loopy! No more gabbing and stitching at Closeknit! And of course, getting help on any WIPs (works-in-progress) means store owners will have to clear their tables of any edibles when I arrive. I'll call ahead with my special request. They'll comply happily, won't they? We all want to shed a few pounds, right? That way we won't have to modify our patterns as much to accommodate our widening hips. Knitting will become easier. Or at least the part where you have to alter the pattern will (and I despise that part more than drinking prune juice.)

What about you? Do you find you eat while you're sewing or knitting? If you can eat, sew and knit all at the same time, I really want to hear from you. If you're skinnier than Kate Moss and you adore sewing and knitting, never mind.
*The knitting you see above? That's the short-sleeve sleeve I mention in this post. I had to move my Dunkin Donuts iced coffee to scan this baby.


Anonymous said...

I don't knit, but while sewing I find I drink a lot of beverages...mostly tea, but wine sometimes on the weekend (only when doing the mindless little stuff obviously...heh). I agree with you on the eating part...pretty much impossible for me while sewing!

Melissa - Hendrik said...

Sorry, but I just found this post to be faintly ridiculous today! I find that I often forget to eat entirely when I'm in a serious sewing session, and as a sewer, I'm more aware of my body measurements than anyone else I know, so I know the exact second my waist or hips go up a half inch. Being addicted to European pattern magazines means you can't gain any weight or you'll be in the Plus range!

And you speak about sewing and working out like you can't possibly do both! I run 10k in the mornings, and sew in the evenings and weekends. Sometimes I even sew *gasp* running accessories!

So even though I heartily disagree with you, thanks for engaging my mind in a bit of critical thinking today anyway... :)

melissa @

the_lazymilliner said...

Melissa, I'm with you on forgetting to eat while sewing. Now that's not a problem with knitting.

I do work out and I aim to do so at least three times a week. I also walk a lot (I don't own a car).

But I'm not losing weight and I blame that on my eating habits, and my hobbies don't exactly help.