Science + Knitting: The Social Entrepreneurship Dream of Ellen Rubin of Luv2Knit and More!

Ellen Rubin is the owner of Luv2Knit & More – a lovely, little, shop, located on Route 611, Old York Road, in Jenkintown, right behind The Outback Steakhouse in the historic art deco building that once was home to Strawbridge & Clothier. There, she has created a community of knitting/crocheting enthusiasts, who come to her shop, not only to purchase beautiful yarns and notions, to learn to knit or crochet, but also to be part of the Luv2Knit family.   

The communities that gather to knit in silent camaraderie or jovial conversation are a hint at Ellen’s vision for the future of Luv2Knit.  She sees its potential expanding far beyond its modest four walls. 

First, a little of Ellen’s backstory. 

Although Ellen learned to knit when she was pregnant with her second child, Jacob, her appreciation for yarn work began years before. She fondly remembers, as a child, sitting at her grandma’s feet as her grandma crocheted, watching Laurence Welk, while helping to wind yarn into a ball.   

Ellen is a trained scientist. She graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Biology, conducting toxicology and E-coli research during her college Co-op experiences. She credits her scientific mindset with the ease with which she learned to knit and with her ability to comprehend its complex structures and mathematical constructs. She credits Drexel University with teaching her how to be a creative thinker and to think outside the box.

The fact that Ellen is both a visual artist and a scientist intrigues me; I have never given much thought to the possibility that left brain logic and right brain creativity could co-exist. When I googled, “correlation between science and knitting”, I was surprised at just how many articles appeared.  

Some of the articles spoke about visual similarities – how the patterns of knit and purl rows resemble patterns in nature – such as the growth of coral reefs, the construction of bird nests, bee hives, otter dams and other natural elements. While others addressed the connection between knitting and scientific thought processes. Carolyn Yackel, Math Professor at Mercer University in Atlanta, proposes that knitting, like science, encourages “people to visualize, re-contextualize and develop new problems and answers”, building neural plasticity in the brain and slowing the effects of aging. 

And there was a ton of research into knitting’s therapeutic value and its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Creative activities like knitting/crocheting that require focus (including meditation), naturally elevate dopamine levels, boosting mood and happiness. 

“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts,” Betsan Corkhill of stichlinks.com writes about the process of knitting.

Additionally, knitting, crocheting and other handicrafts lend themselves to “stitch and bitch” social circles, reducing depression by making us feel less isolated and more connected to our neighbors and communities. 

The therapeutic value of knitting and crocheting and the social communities it creates is where Ellen feels most passionate and where she sees the future of Luv2Knit & More. She says, “I don’t know how much time I have on this earth, but while I am here, I truly want to make a difference. I can feel it in every fiber of my being.”

Ellen first saw the meaningful impact she could have when she taught a dear friend who was dying from lung cancer how to knit. Currently, she sees its transformational power in the weekly knitting lessons that she brings to the Maternal Observation and Monitoring (MOM) Unit in her partnership with Abington Memorial Hospital, helping expectant moms find relief from their physical and emotional stress.

As a true “social entrepreneur”, Ellen envisions knitting and crocheting as part of the solution to mainstream patient-care and as an integral part of a patient’s treatment plan, particularly in the field of cancer treatment. Her vision is to create more and more therapeutic partnerships between Luv2Knit and area hospitals, domestic abuse homes, treatments centers, and nursing homes and to build dedicated “Makers Spaces” at these facilities. 

For more information or to see how you can help be a part of Ellen’s social entrepreneurship dream, or to join her Luv2Knit Community, stop by Luv2Knit & More at 610 Old York Road, Jenkintown, or visit https://www.facebook.com/luv2knitandmore/.  

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