IT’S official, knitting is good for you.

A report by Knit for Peace UK entitled ‘The Health Benefits of Knitting’ states that the pastime can lower blood pressure, induce a sense of well-being, and slow the onset of dementia.

Tracey Major, who runs the Swindon Stitch & Bitch group, is a keen advocate of the benefits of knitting and crochet. She said: “We’ve been going for 12 years and currently have 20 members, all female, within a 50-year age range. We discussed the health benefits of knitting and crochet at this week’s meeting, and the consensus was that it’s calming, relaxing and sociable.

“It’s also very therapeutic – I knit or crochet every day and it’s a way to relax and forget about the stress of modern life. And it’s very sociable – just meeting up once a week and spending time with others is a vital part of it.”

The Stitch & Bitch movement started in America and has spread worldwide.

Tracey said: “Another aspect of the group is helping others, as we choose different charities and knit for them. In the past we’ve made poppies for Remembrance Day, and we knitted a huge bra which was on show in the Brunel Centre for Against Breast Cancer. Our current project is to make hats, gloves and blankets for the homeless, ready for the winter, so there’s always something on the go.”

Roger Shakles, co-owner of Sewcraft in Havelock Street, said he had experienced an upsurge of interest in the hobby, with people of all ages coming in to buy supplies for knitting and crochet.

He said: “These days we sell to a range of customers from seven-year-olds to a lady who’s 104. My wife Julie and I took over the family business 17 years ago and in that time we’ve seen a revival, which began with knitted ponchos around 15 years ago.

"Today crochet has developed a lot with plenty of young people learning the craft, and we’ve seen the development of online projects that people can get involved with, knitting for charities.”

Keen knitter Cheryl Maddock, who works at Sewcraft, spoke of the benefits of knitting. She said: “It’s relaxing, relieves stress and stimulates the mind.”

This Saturday is Worldwide Knit Day, when Tracey and the group are meeting up to raise awareness of the benefits of knitting. If you’d like to join in or find out more about Stitch & Bitch email for details.

Pictured are Suzy Cowper and the Stitch & Bitch group at Manor Farm. Picture by Thomas Kelsey