Could knitting help stave off depression and dementia and give those who do it the serenity of Buddhist monks? There is strong anecdotal evidence of the benefits of knitting, but psychologists at Cardiff University are beginning to test this scientifically. Researcher Ulrich von Hecker is investigating whether knitting helps improve attention span or memory. He said the mechanism was still unclear, but knitting might engage centres of the brain in a way that counteracted negativity. The project is being co-ordinated by knitting guru and former physiotherapist Betsan Corkhill, who hopes to bring in experts from six universities.