Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do as I Say, Not as I Did

After knitting a super-bulky hat all in one evening, I have to admit that self-preservation was not on my radar. By the time I realized how tired and sore my hands were, it was too late. (...I was almost done and really wanted to finish. You understand!?!?!) A week later, things are back to normal, thankfully, and hopefuly I'm a wiser person.

So how should you look after those precious tools - your hands? The Arthritis Foundation has some tips:

Choose a soft, smooth, medium-weight yarn. Fine gauges are difficult to grip, and although bulky yarns may be easier to hold, they can be heavier. As for needles, medium-gauge such as 4 to 5.5 mm are easiest on the hands.

Fibre choice makes a difference - stretchy fibres such as wool and other protein fibres are more flexible and therefore gentler on the hands than cotton or cellulose fibres.

Metal needles, especially older styles, are stiff and cold and heavy. Give wooden needles a try. You just might enjoy their light weight, warmth and flexibility.

If your back, neck, arms or hands get sore, try circular needles. The weight of your knitting is more evenly divided between your hands and when your project gets larger, the knitting will rest on your lap.

Above all, pace yourself. Take breaks, stand and stretch your hands, arms and back ...before they start to ache. As Sally Melville says in her book, The Knit Stitch, set a timer to go off across the room every 20 minutes, get up, stretch, and set it to go off in another 20 minutes. If you don't get up, but keep knitting through the noise, get help!

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