Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Members of knitting group say learning the craft changed their lives

Nelson Mendonca wouldn't be where he is today had he not learned to knit.

Mendonca lives in British Columbia, and for two decades he struggled through a cycle of drug addiction and incarceration. While in prison, he joined a knitting program, and learned how to make beanies. The hats were distributed to the homeless, and upon his release last July, Mendonca knew he wanted to continue providing beanies for people in need.

As he learned how to knit, Mendonca realized that he couldn't cut corners — he had to follow every step "one at a time, over and over again," he told CNN. He found the process calming, and being able to create something from scratch to give to someone else "sparked joy in me that I have never felt before in my life," Mendonca said.

He has since started a knitting group at the Phoenix Society, an integrated addiction services center in British Columbia. There are 10 members, and the men have knitted more than 200 beanies to donate to homeless shelters. "Our knitting group has helped me by keeping my mind busy and giving me a sense of community," member Michael Prokopchuk told CNN. "I've connected with everybody in our looming group and have learned some quality life lessons from sharing with the group during my time here."