Back when I shared my love of the Mustard Scarf, Kristen asked me how I avoid knitting-related injury as I seem to knit so much in such a short amount of time. Unfortunately for Kristen, my take on this is to simply knit until my hands and arms start to get tired, and then I quit. When it hurts I don’t knit, and I usually start to feel pain in my left elbow after a marathon knitting session that tells me when it’s time to take a break. Fearing this wasn’t quite the best answer – either for Kristen or for me, really – I took some time to look up how others handle knitting injury, as well as searching for some good ways to avoid it all together. Thanks to Knit A Square, Knitting Guru, and Suite 101, here’s what I’ve learned:
Firstly, it looks like I was actually doing something right with my “stop knitting once it hurts” strategy. When your body is tired, it will let you know, and that’s a good time to stop!
Secondly, if you know you’re going to be involved in some sort of marathon knitting, training is a must. No, seriously! Building up your body’s tolerance for extended periods of knitting by knitting a bit more each day will do you more good than simply going in with the “knit until I can knit no more” strategy. This has proven itself in my life as well. Two years ago, before knitting One Hundred Hats was even a thought in my head, there’s no way I could have knit three hats a week. When I started the One Hundred Hats project, I was pushing it with two. But as my body got used to knitting more often, it became easier to knit longer.
Thirdly, maintaining good posture is key. Sit upright, be sure you’ve got enough back support, and rest heavier projects in your lap – think blankets here. Keep your elbows close to your sides rather than up in the air, and hold your knitting loosely.
Finally, be sure to knit and crochet in good lighting and take frequent breaks – both of which I avoid at all costs! I knit most often while watching movies and television, and have been known to knit in the car as well. I don’t pay much attention to how light it is, simply feeling for the stitches if it’s too dark to see them. As for taking breaks, I do so if I’m hungry, thirsty or in need of a potty break, but for the most part if I’m sitting down to knit, I mean business! If I get caught up, I’ll knit for several hours straight without noticing it.
After all that, I was pleasantly surprised to note that I’m not doing too bad on the injury avoidance list – I follow almost all of the suggestions I could find, and will try to knit in better lighting from now on! And remember – if you ARE injured, rest is the best possible thing you can do!