Karen Zila Hayes is a Life Coach, Sensory Wellness Specialist and the Creator of S.A.M. (Sensory Alignment Method). She is also one of Canada’s leading experts on Knitting Therapy. Karen has a very unique focus in the world of knitting. Unlike conventional teachers who focus on expanding one’s roster of knitting skills and helping one become a more accomplished designer, Karen specializes in Postural Alignment and ‘Safe Knitting’.

 

Unlike the majority of knitters who learn in childhood, Karen came to knitting as an adult and completely by accident (full story below). Fascinated by the addictive bliss this activity was producing in her, she began researching knitting’s therapeutic power and the ever-mounting body of evidence supporting knitting’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits. She immersed herself in the study of this unusual topic.

In her work as a coach, Karen had always promoted the value of creative expression. When she started incorporating knitting into her work with clients, she began to see some very exciting and unexpected results, not only in terms of creative empowerment, but also in terms of overall health. Intrigued by these results, Karen was inspired to put a new spin on her therapeutic offerings. The result is an innovative approach to healing, wellness and spiritual growth, all facilitated by the powerfully grounding effects of this amazing super-craft.

As Karen began to give talks on the subject of Therapeutic Knitting she discovered three facts that would solidify the course of her work:
1) a disturbing number of avid knitters continue to knit despite constant pain
2) a great many knitters who are not in pain put unnecessary tension on their bodies while knitting  
3) as a result of her previous work in the field of alignment, detecting and correcting the flaws in a knitter’s posture came naturally to her

Just as golf pro’s job is to assess a client’s swing and make that swing both more efficient and safe for the body, Karen’s special skill set allows her to analyze and correct postural and mechanical flaws in a person’s knitting technique.

Karen’s mission is not only to educate people about the amazing benefits of knitting but to redefine the way knitting is taught. CLICK HERE for more on Karen’s ground-breaking ‘Safe Knitting’ Program for knitters and knitting teachers.

Karen also offers customized assessments to help knitters of all skill levels redefine their technique, expand their understanding of the mind/body connection and take their knitting practice to the next level. CLICK HERE for more about Knitting Assessments.

In addition to spearheading the ‘Safe Knitting’ movement, Knit Magic offers ground-breaking courses in the areas of creative empowerment, personal growth, stress-reduction, illness recovery, charity outreach, and smoking cessation.

READ THE STORY OF HOW KAREN STARTED KNITTING

  • Years ago I was happily employed as a life coach and teacher. I had no desire to ever become a knitter, but I was good with my hands (having previously done handmade jewelry) and I wanted to make a very simple gift for a loved one. All it required was that I knit a simple square. I figured it couldn’t be too hard so I asked a friend, who was an avid knitter, if she could show me the basics.

    She lent me a pair of needles (I didn’t think I’d be knitting long enough to want my own pair) and said that if I didn’t care about the colour of yarn, that I could use some of her remnants. There was enough cream coloured yard for a border on both ends, and for the middle I chose green.

    I picked up the knit stitch pretty quickly, and figured I’d be done with the project (and knitting in general) inside of a week. But then, a strange thing happened. I found there was something pleasing about the process. I began to feel changes in my body that made me want to keep going. I remember getting about ten rows into the project and realizing I was hooked.

    When I finally went to bed that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how weirdly wonderful I felt while knitting. I woke up the next morning and the first thing I wanted to do was to knit again. I quickly finished the square, but by this time I’d already bought some new yarn and had begun a scarf.

    About a week into my new passion, I decided to see if I could find any information that could explain why knitting was making me feel this way. I found it in spades! Knitting was found to have amazing physical, cognitive, emotional and social benefits, not the least of which is that it actually changes our brainwave patterns!

    I read about studies in which knitting helped those with Alzheimer’s, cancer, ADHD, Parkinson’s, chronic pain and more. I read about studies in which students in certain countries were allowed to knit during class and it improved their grades. There was so much information coming to light, but it was still relatively unkown. I realized I wanted to play a part in spreading this message. If knitting could make a healthy person like myself feel a new kind of blissful euphoria AND help those dealing with serious health issues, how could I not spread the word?

    And that’s the story of how a simple square started the journey to my current role as a knitting therapist and teacher. One interesting side note: There were about six colours I had to choose from in the batch of remnants my friend gave me. At the time, I thought the cream and green colours that I used for the square were arbitrary choices. I remember thinking that the green was a rather unusual, uncommon shade.

    A few weeks later, I was looking through my linen chest and found an intricately knitted square with a lotus design and lace work that my great-grandmother had made. I had received it a few years before in a batch of my grandmother’s clothes and barely given it a second look. It was the exact same size as the one I’d made, using the identical green and cream colours!

    I guess knitting was in my blood all along.