In some ways it’s kind of weird how much of an effect Jason [and Erin, actually] have had on my life in the last month. For people who live several states away, whom we have only seen in person one time, they sure have had a lot to do with what I do during the month of August.
First off we had Jason being one of the people who got me into A Song Of Ice And Fire, which has become my new literary obsession. I promise you that as much as it’s wrong to fall in love with literary characters I’m adding Tyrion Lannister to my Good Thing They’re Fake Or I’d Be A Hopeless Stalker list alongside Sherlock Holmes, Atticus Finch, Charles Butler, Prior Phillip, Nero Wolfe and Sydney Carton.
But the big thing–and the thing for which I have entitled this post “Yippee”–came when I noticed Erin asking Lydia for some advice on Facebook. You see, Erin wanted to learn to knit. It was a simple question about where she should go to find a class. But I felt my pupils dilate, my mouth started to salivate and my fingers got that terrible itch that means only one thing: MUST.HAVE.NEEDLES.AND.YARN.
When I lost knitting as I grew sicker I lost touch with one of the essential ingredients to my personal soul. There are things you do and Things You DO. Much of life is mundane and routine but if you are lucky you find a thing or two that just feels as though you were made to do it. When you are undertaking that task you are more alive. You are like yourself, only bolded and underlined and italicised. I got lucky when I found knitting so young, because it’s one of my self-underlining things. Losing that was one of the gravest blows I experienced.
The treatments have started to take effect this year. The scales finally tilted and at last I’ve found myself having more good days than bad. But I was always scared to go back to knitting. I’d tried a couple of times in the last couple of years but it went badly. So badly that it reminded me of one of those uncomfortable scenes in books and movies where a man tries to have sex but can’t become erect. I was a flaccid knitter wannabe.
But then Erin asked me a few questions about starting to knit and as I answered them I realised that there was no way I could not try again. I looked up websites about knitting with arthritis, compiled the advice and made a trip to Jo-Ann.
And I spent 5 hours knitting this weekend. I feel much joy.
And if you are wondering about those Knitting With Arthritis tips which are working for me, here you go:
- Soak your hands in warm water for a few minutes before sitting down to knit.
- Stop every few rows (I stop after 100 stitches) to give your hands a break.
- After resting your hands and before you pick up the needles again, do a minute or so of “fake typing” where you move your fingers in the air as if you were typing or playing the piano. It stretches them without the impact of actual keyboarding and keeps them limber while you knit.
- Use bamboo, wood or plastic needles. This seems like a bit of a dumb tip, but it’s actually one of the best ones. The bamboo (my personal choice) needles actually hold the heat from your hands a little bit so they keep the ache away whereas metal needles stay cold and are harder on your joint mobility. The yarn also slides more easily along the bamboo.
- Use smaller needles
- Vary your projects in order to vary the type of stress on your hands. You’ll have less risk of repetitive motion injury. If you aren’t a polygamous knitter by nature, take a break to ball some yarn.
- ALWAYS USE CIRCULAR NEEDLES. Even when knitting flat. This distributes the weight of your work around the needle frame instead of forcing your hands and shoulders to bear it, as with flat needles.
I’m so happy about this that I can hardly contain my joy. In fact, just writing about it makes me want to leave my desk to go knit.