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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Hungry for Socks

I love socks.

Correction…

I love knitting socks.

Any kind is alright by me. Vanilla, lace, cabled, entrelac (when I am feeling brave), colour work (ok, maybe not intarsia, but don’t tell anyone!), mini socks, welly socks and everything in between.

What I love most of all is knitting a sock in a great yarn, in a great pattern.
It makes me happy.
I cast on the Dawlish socks by Rachel Coopey last weekend, with Bat’at Hand Dyed 4ply yarn in the most amazing colour.

Dawlish Socks

Now, I have reviewed this yarn before, and I really hope I used words like

buttery
daffodil
egg yolk
creamy

cheese…

…ok, maybe not cheese, but I had a real hankering for an omelette after knitting a while.

The repeats are short, there’s no risk of pooling and the twist is perfect for giving me nice, crisp cables – which is important on such a geometric pattern.

I’m throwing Caution to the Wind and cabling without a cable needle too.
I’m just that adventurous!

Dawlish Socks

I think it’s safe to say that I am having fun working this pattern in this yarn. They were meant for each other. Every time I find a Perfect Match, I feel justified in having a stash.

It’s not hoarding.
It’s a Dating Agency for Yarn.

Got to dash – my omelette is ready!

With love,

Rewind, please!

Can I have a rewind on this weekend, please? It’s not been bad, per se (in fact, I’m feeling rather chipper!) it’s just that the things I wanted to achieve have been a little tricksy. Take this post, for example. I’ve already written it once, but half of it disappeared. The strange thing is that it was the FIRST half! So, I’m writing it all again….

The other thing I wanted to achieve was a tutorial on Log Cabin squares. I have wanted to do a log cabin blanket for a long time, but ‘work’  meant that I just didn’t have the time for any ‘me’ projects. I’ve decided that I need to take time out to knit for myself, for relaxation, for stress relief, or just to reconnect and so when I received some Hayfield DK with Wool, that’s exactly what I did! I had one ball of every shade, so I had a lot to choose from and the Log Cabin was an ideal project. I looked at all the colours together as a whole, and knew that some wouldn’t work in the blanket – white and cream were ‘shouty’ and the orange clashed a little; the black and grey pulled the colours back a little, so I was left with 9 colours in total.

I decided to do a square with 9 ‘logs’, so I could use each yarn equally (I hope!), to maximise the size of the blanket. To achieve this, I picked an order for the colours and did the first square as follows: light pink, purple, rose, maroon, teal, light blue, navy, olive and brown. For the second square, I started on the second colour, adding the first colour to the end, so it went: purple, rose, maroon, teal, light blue, navy, olive, brown and light pink. The third square started on rose, the fourth on maroon, and so on. Once I have completed all the squares, I am planning to edge them in black, then seam them together for a blanket.

Anyway, today I sat down to prepare for a tutorial and duly prepared the fabric, shot it and wrote out the steps, all of which took the best part of the afternoon, made a coffee then sat down here.

Which is where it all fell apart. Unsurprisingly, it seems that sheets of A4 paper, a desk lamp and the lid of a plastic container for a light box and a (very old) i-phone do not emulate professional photography equipment, which is what I am used to using! Here’s the painful evidence:

And, believe me, these were some of the better shots.

So, instead of writing up the tutorial I have spent HOURS preparing, I am off to stalk DSLR kits on ebay, and will (thankfully, I hear you say!) save the tutorial for another day.

Knitting without guilt

Having finally ‘given’ myself permission to knit without guilt, I have had a great time looking through patterns on Ravelry – there are some beauties there! I have, for a long time now, had my eye on ‘Pretty as a Peacock‘ by Jae Koscierzynski (aka Some Knitting Required), and while it’s stunning, I am not sure that I am ready to spend THAT much time knitting without guilt just yet – especially when a friend reminded me that I should be working on my own patterns, not someone else’s! But sometimes I just want to kick back and let someone else take control. Yes, really, I do. It’s nice to just follow a pattern, trust that it works and enjoy the knitting. Not to be disheartened, I found ‘His Golden Lair‘ by Kourtney Robinson, which is much more feasible and ticks all the boxes!

Copyright: Kourtney Robinson (with permission and thanks!)

But, someone else pointed out that I still have my Sylvi to finish (yes, thank you for the reminder!) so perhaps I could work on that instead?

I clearly have too many choices, and know I have too-little-brain to decide at the moment, so for now I am just content to work on my blanket. I guess I am still happy in Garter St territory after all!

Until next time,

pw x

Knit therapy

And relaaaaaax…

I find knitting and crochet incredibly soothing. Knit classes should be available on the NHS, as it is cheaper than medication or therapy – although possibly more addictive! While I learnt to knit and crochet as a child, I only took them up seriously later in life as a form of stress relief in my former career, and I am so glad I did – I haven’t looked back! It is the only real activity, other than reading (or playing guitar, badly), that helps me to completely tune out and lose myself. I suppose it’s a form of mindfulness, although more on that another day. It doesn’t matter what I am doing – if my day has been particularly mundane, it is wonderful to fall headfirst into a complex lace pattern, requiring intense concentration and silence. If my day has been busy and I just want to veg (or I am feeling under the weather, physically or emotionally) then something basic does the trick just as well – plus you can watch a film at the same time. Bargain!
I haven’t been particularly well of late and as a result had lost my knitting mojo. I was worried. I was still just as stressed, but without knitting I had no other way to unwind. I knew that I had to knit to get my mojo back, but how? And with what?

Easy knits

I turned to an old friend, the garter stitch. There was a time when I (wrongly) thought little of the humble garter stitch, but it is such a lifesaver and I really love the simplicity and the resulting squishiness! For some yarns, garter stitch is a great way to go. I love those little resulting ‘pops’ of colour. So, to get me back on the knitting path, I needed just plain knit. I picked the very popular (and fun!) ten stitch blanket by Frankie Brown, but made a couple of alterations. I worked on 20 sts, as I knew that I didn’t want to be turning every ten stitches (or knitting backwards, as I tend to do on short row sections) and I added a slip stitch join to get a lovely box-spiral ridge. While working on it, if I dared to put it down for a second, my gorgeous Tibetan Terrier would run to sit on it and claim it as his own. Luckily, I tend to work all my knitting on circs, otherwise he could have done himself an injury! I knew that it was never going to be the prettiest blanket, because all the balls were different, but the aim was just to get me back on track. So with no other intended recipient, it rapidly became ‘Bilko’s Blanket’.  When I finished, I added a 5st applied i-cord edging, just to make it that little bit more substantial. It goes everywhere with him!

My little stinky fella is pooped after a long walk so I couldn’t tear him away from his blankie long enough to get a photo of it on its own (and he loves to play to the camera anyway!), so this shot will have to do for now.

Not that I don’t have a million and one other projects on the go, but once Bilko’s Blanket had been cast off, I needed another garter stitch saviour, and so  began the ‘Curious Case of the Log Cabin‘.

Oh, happy day – I was hooked again!

pw x