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:
Let’s start with the easiest: curl one hand into a fist and put light pressure on it with your other hand (repeat for both hands).
Same principle as above: make your palms touch each other and apply pressure.
Slightly more complicated: turn your right palm to the right side, and hug the right hand with your left hand. Your left thumb touches your right pinky finger. Apply pressure with your left thumb and at the same time pull your right thumb to the left – this creates a rotating motion. Additionally, pull your hands down. Repeat for the other side.
Again, turn your right palm to the right side and hug it with your left. Move your elbows downward and at the same time pull your hands to your chest. Repeat for the other side.
Turn your right palm to face forward and grab it with your left hand as if to shake your own hands. Rotate your left hand inwards (by applying pressure on your right pinky finger area) and move both hands upwards in a round motion. Repeat for the other side.
I hope this helps!