A few weeks ago I started knitting a cotton top, and simultaneously started to have pain and numb feelings in my hands and fingers – something that probably a lot of knitters, crocheters and other crafters can relate to. Maybe my hands got tired after a long season of intense knitting, maybe the texture of the cotton yarn challenged my hands in new ways… Anyway, the pain is gone now, but it left me thinking and reflecting on how I, as a knitter, can take better care of my most important tools – my hands.
I think it all starts with acknowledging the importance of my hands as my main instruments, and at the same time, accepting that they have their limitations, as do body and mind in general. I learned through many mistakes when I need to stop making (when I am getting too angry at the fabric for example…). And now I need to learn how to see the limits of power of my hands (and arms, shoulders, back…) to make sure they will enable me to make things in the future.
The most important thing for me is to change projects every now and then. From bamboo needles to metal ones, big yarn to thin yarn, from knitting to crochet to embroidery or sewing. Or even taking a break from fiber stuff sometimes and make a drawing or take photos. This gives my hands the needed change of movements to prevent them from hurting. Other things include giving myself a hand massage and using a nice hand cream.
From my days doing actual sports I still remember my favorite stretching exercises for the hands, and I took pictures to share with fellow crafters. Take a moment before or after a knitting session and stretch:
I recently rediscovered embroidery after having forgotten about it for some time. A few years ago, when I first discovered Jenny Hart’s work at Sublime Stitching, I experimented a bit with embroidery, but I never really knew what to make out of it. The random embroidered fabric pieces went in a box and got forgotten over time.
In the last weeks I started noticing embroidery again, thanks to embroidery artists Tessa Perlow and Sofia Salazar, whose modern and artistic designs tempted me so much, that I bought my own Kantan embroidery needle to try out a new (and faster) embroidery method. I like the chain stitch it produces, but I still have to figure out how to best use the needle. A embroidery hoop that can be fixed to a table might be helpful, as you actually need both hands to work.