I had been juggling four projects: Two for duty, one for necessity and the last for love.
It was the proverbial eleventh hour and the “one for love”, a crocheted blanket, was slowing me down. All four were promised for Monday morning and I feared the worst. I started them all a month before but now I would need to work through the weekend to finish them all. To be fair, it had started out with two projects. That had been achievable. However, my time had been hijacked by the “two for duty” (knitted blankets). They had not been planned. They had been “requested” by a family member so I found it difficult to say no. The ”one for necessity”, a set of washcloths and dishtowels, were knitted up without flourish, unfortunately. I always like to add a wee bit of whimsy to even my most utilitarian projects. The time-crunch meant that the one for necessity was condemned to a purely functional design. I moved from project to project with focus and determination. The clock mocked me with its neutral rigidity. I had spent the weekend hopped up on black coffee, Rage Against The Machine and the determination of a caged fighter in the last round.
All four of the projects got done.
[Queue inspirational Rocky Balboa music and listen to the crowd inside my head cheer— I stand victorious with my arms up in the air and…..] OUCH!!!
A shard of pain shot down through my middle finger and exploded into my palm.Please pass me the muscle pain relief cream. It seems I have sprained my middle finger metacarpal
Sprained fingers like this happen to basketball players, rugby players, kung fu masters and boxers! I sat in my GP’s surgery looking sheepish as my doctor cocked his head and smiled at me like a parent who wants to reprimand a toddler who just fell into a mud puddle. He gently informed me I had sprained finger due to repetitive strain associated with overuse. Basically, I knitted and crocheted too long without proper breaks.
Other knitters and hookers I know all said they had known my pain in one form or another. Crick in the neck, back pains, eye strain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and weight gain ( aka Yo Yarn Tuffet!!!) are the crosses we bear for our pastime. It is a common feeling that knitters and hookers feel they cannot stop because either they want to meet a deadline or just want to get as much done before the baby/husband/kids need us. One lady told me that she feels industrious when she is knitting. If she is binge watching Netflix, “knitting helps take away the guilt of being a lazy git”. Sometimes we just want to be in on something really cool and want to hurry up and get it done to be included in on the fun! Here’s an example from our very own fearless leader:
So with this in mind, I have collated some of the advice given to me by some of our more expert and sensible colleagues:
- Take frequent breaks! Ten to 15 minutes is all it takes.
- Rotate your wrists after every row.
- Mind your posture. Keep your shoulders down and your back straight. Get a backrest pillow.
- Avoid knitting with arms on a surface. This puts pressure on the nerves of your arms.
- Wear a wrist brace
- Keep a small tension ball in your knitting bag. Squeeze it ease the tension in my hands and fingers.
- Don’t have too many projects going at once.
- Have a timer go off after 30 minutes. Get up and move around. Stretch arms, legs and back. Rotate your neck and wrists. Wiggle your fingers. Go make a cup of tea!
- Use a heating pad around your neck and shoulders.
- Use fingerless craft gloves with a good supporting wrist. Keep it in your knitting bag.
- Keep pain relief cream in your Knitting Bag. Apply it when necessary to wrists and fingers.
- Use a quilter’s thimble on index finger
- Use ergonomic hooks!!! Wooden needles, especially KnitPro Cubics are easier on the hands.
- Make sure you have good lighting and a comfortable chair.
- Do hand and wrist warm-ups before you start!!!! Make a fist (or use a tension ball) and squeeze for 3 seconds and release. 10-15 reps. Then do Finger touches. Thumb to index, thumb to middle finger, thumb to ring finger, thumb to pinky and then back again.
Ultimately, we all love our skill, our hobby, our obsession. We want to be able to do it indefinitely. We need to be smart and protect our future by making sure we don’t hurt ourselves now. Too much of anything is not a good thing. As all the wise folk say, “Everything in moderation.”
- My favourite quote that can apply to this (as well as to other things):