5 fantastic ways to prevent RSI for knitters and crocheters

As knitters and crocheters, we make a lot of repetitive movements.

Lots and lots.

Imagine you are working on a shawl, 43 in wide with a 23 in drop, and tension at 19 sts x 34 rows to 4in, we could easily be looking at a grand total of …

21,255 stitches!

HOW MANY STITCHES!!!!!

HOW MANY STITCHES!!!!!

Photo credit: Instant Vantage / Foter / CC BY-SA

Wowser.

That’s over 40,000 movements – the needle going into the stitch, the yarn going over (whether throwing or continental styles) and the needle picking up the yarn and out.

Each one of those movements results in a muscle or a tendon making tiny little movements and the poor things can wear out through use. Trust me, with tennis elbow in both arms, carpal tunnel and tendons that I can hear and feel snap, I know exactly how painful and life impacting that can be.
There is good news though:

You can help prevent injury. 

There are steps you can take to make your body work with you, to ease any aches or pains you may have and to help you keep knitting or crocheting for a very, very long time*. I wish I knew of these before I developed problems which are now lifelong and can only be managed, not cured.
So please, take time out to take care of yourselves.

It’s really very, very simple…

All you need is a can, your hands and a couple of minutes a day.

Exercise 1
Wrist Turn

Hold the can in your hand, with your palm facing up.

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Turn your wrist so your palm is facing down, ensuring you gently grip the can – don’t squeeze too tight!

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Turn your wrist back to the original position.
Repeat the turn 10 times with each hand.

Exercise 2
Wrist Lift

Hold the can in your hand, with your palm facing up.

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Lift your hand, keeping your palm towards you.

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Hold for up to 5 seconds, then relax.

Repeat the wrist lift 10 times with each hand.

Exercise 3
Reverse wrist  lift

Pick up the can with your palm facing downwards.

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Lower the can so your palm faces your body.

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Lift back into starting position.

Repeat 10 times with each hand.

Exercise 4
Wrist flex

I really enjoy this one! Flex your hand 90 degrees, so your fingertips are pointing upwards. Flex the fingers back (gently, please!) with your other hand.

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Feels fab doesn’t it! Hold it for between 15-30 second then release.

Exercise 5
Reverse wrist flex

Flex your hand 90 degrees so your fingertips are facing the floor. Flex the fingers back (again, gently!) with your other hand.

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Hold it for 15-30 seconds then release.
I love doing both flexes with my arm fully extended, so I get a slight bicep and elbow stretch too.

It feels soooo good!

They are so quick and easy to do – keep a can on your desk, by the phone, by the sofa – even in your handbag (or man-bag for all our male crafters!) so you can work out wherever you are.

Don’t forget to let your crafting friends know about these exercises too! 

With love,

* If you already have issues, you can do exercises too, but
pleasepleaseplease
seek advice from your GP or Physio first.

I’d love to hear your hints and tips for pain-free knitting and crochet,
so why not share them in the comments?

 

 

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Absences, apologies & absent friends

Hello my lovelies.

This is difficult to write…so….deep breath…here goes….

I’m here to explain my absence – it’s been a long, long time since my last post. Lots has happened and I have to admit, I’ve been hiding. Hiding from the internets, hiding at work, hiding from work, hiding from friends (you know who you are and I am really very sorry), hiding from family, hiding behind smiley masks, but mainly hiding under duvets. 

As some of you may know (my tweets might have given it away!) I was devoted to my gorgeous wee fella, Mr Stinky – aka Bilko. He found his home in my heart and made my life whole.

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He was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder last year and the end was so sudden that the shock left me reeling. The vets were just awful and while Mr Stinky lost his battle, the war with them is still ongoing.

 It was so painful I never thought I would recover. There are days when I still don’t think I have, but at least I can function again. Every time I think of him my heart breaks and my eyes fill up with uncontrollable tears. I have to remind myself that the amount I hurt from missing him is equivalent to how much I loved him and how much he loved me.

I loved him a lot.

I didn’t notice that I was lonely until he came into my life and showed me the power of truly unconditional love.

Since he has been gone it has been almost unbearable.

I say almost, because I am still here. I am bearing it. I don’t know how, but I am.

I say goodnight to him every day before I go to sleep.

I say good morning to him every day when I wake up.

Walks seem pointless without my best friend.

I never noticed that before – until he showed me how amazing a walk should be.

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Oh dear. I thought I had the strength to write this to explain my disappearing act (and my sudden re-appearance!) but as I type my eyes are leaking again. They leak a lot these days.

I will love him, miss him and remember him every day of my life.

My beautiful Bilko

But, Life goes on. So, I decided to give myself a good talking to. From somewhere I found the strength to pick myself up. I have given myself all the comfort I can cope with – it’s time for some Tough Love and it’s time I got back into the real world, so this is me.

I’m back, I’m still a little broken, but I’m here.

Here and getting back to teaching, writing, designing, reviewing and getting back to my old crafty self.

Thank you for waiting.

I missed you x

Simple can be beautiful

The Simple Things

For a long time now, I’ve enjoyed the simple things in life – whether it’s a gorgeous sunrise (although those are just distant memories at the moment – I’m in the  office by that time!), a walk along the river or coffee with friends.

Misty morning

Who stole the sun?!

I have also sensed a move towards ‘simple’ in my crafting life too. For a long time, ‘simple’ was out of my reach as I tackled complex lace, irregular cables, freeform, taught experimental/advanced techniques, wrote tutorials or tech edited and was constantly on a personal quest for the ‘next skill’ to conquer. Recently, however, I have fallen back in love with simple and realised that simple is beautiful! Infinite texture can be created with just knit and purl stitches, stocking stitch can be stunning in stripes, and single stitch patterns in crochet can be given a new lease of life with colour.

The Humble Granny

I was playing with string earlier today, thinking I really must get round to preparing samples for classes (which I have been nagging myself to do for ages!) and wondering what to do first. I decided to go right back to basics – rather than teach crochet Granny Squares, which when you break it down includes a lot of techniques to cover in a few hours – chain, slip stitch, trebles, changing colour, fastening off and weaving in – I decided to concentrate on the stitch itself and do a Granny Stripe sample instead. I had three colours of yarn that had been discarded from other projects: orange, mushroom and white, that I honestly thought I wouldn’t find a use for, but they were taunting me, pleading to be used so I combined them and was delighted with the result!

Granny Stripe Delight

**Can you see what’s different with the image? Ohhhhhhh yes – it definitely wasn’t taken on a phone! Hurrah!**

The mushroom really makes the white pop, but seems to tone down the orange (and the shot is a pretty true representation of the colours) giving it a really autumnal but fresh feeling.

The joy of the Granny Stripe for teaching is that by starting with a long base chain (if you are working a long scarf or an infinity cowl) the student gets a feel for how to hold and tension the yarn, then (once the initial row of trebles has been worked) it it allows the student plenty of time to practise the movements of the treble crochet and really get it embedded into their Muscle Memory before tackling other stitches or stitch placement.  By changing colours and watching the colour-play, it staves off boredom. Other skills are learnt too – fastening off, changing colours, weaving in, but without all the tricksy corners. More than one student has proudly (and rightly so!) presented me with five-corner squares before now. So, back to basics it is – and while it might be simple, it’s elegant in its simplicity and a perfect beginners’ project but still a joy to work for a competent crocheter too.

I am not the first to discover the joys of the humble Granny Stripe and there are lots of ‘patterns’ available online – if you do a search for Granny Stripe images, there is a plethora of images from blankets inspired by Lucy of Attic 24, who has done an amazing job of raising the profile of ‘The Granny’! Lucy has a great eye for colour, and has chosen to work her blankets in double stripes, almost forming waves of colour. In my sample above, by working just one row of each colour, the three trebles seem to make little ‘pops’ or beads instead, creating an entirely different fabric from the same stitch pattern. The variations are endless, and I shall enjoy experimenting myself and seeing what my students create too. Once the stitch pattern has been learnt, it can be used for anything – a bedspread, a bag, hat, cushion cover, lampshade, skirt and oh-so-much-more!

I think this ‘simple’ thing will keep me occupied for some time yet and when I have finished playing I hope to share the results here too. For now, however, my crochet is calling me and I must get back to it!

Until next time,

pw x

p.s. If you love the simple things too, why not share them with me here? I’d love to hear from you.