Hi, all! I’m just now working on a pretty little knitted cardigan for myself, but I find that after every row, my right hand just aches like crazy. Does anyone have tips on how to minimize aches and pains while knitting? Any comments appreciated. Thanks!
Are you knitting continental style (working yarn in left hand) or English (in right hand)?
How’s your tension? Do you usually need to go up a needle size or down a needle size to make gauge? Is your fabric dense or open?
Knitting tightly is a likely culprit. Your stitches should move easily on the needle. You can also pay attention to how you’re holding your needles. You don’t need a death grip on them, just hold them lightly. As Ouisi already said, knowing which style you use would helpful too.
Hi! Thanks for the response! My stitches move easily on the needles, and I’ve been trying to loosen my grip on my needles as much as possible when knitting. Also, I knit Continental style.
Thank you for your response! I knit Continental style, usually, I’ll use a size larger than recommended for my yarn to obtain the guage of my project, but my finished fabric isn’t too loose or too tight.
Hm. Do you have any other joint troubles?
Do you work on a computer all day, or use your hands for some other repetitive task at work?
Do you have a webcam or another video camera? You could set it up and record yourself knitting across a couple of rows, then compare that with some how-to videos and see if you’re adding extra movements while you work or if you seem to be clenching the right needle tightly.
Even if your stitches slide easily, if you’re going up a needle size that probably means you have just a little more tension than most people do. I knit very loosely–I have to go down a needle size to make gauge–so combined with my extreme klutziness, my main problem is that I occasionally flail randomly and send the whole project shooting off my needles.
I also knit continental, but I sometimes have nerve pain (tingling) from tensing while flexing my wrist. More often when I crochet.
I knit Continental also and used to have pain every time I’d knit. I paid attention to how I was holding my needles and moving my hand, wrist, and arm. I consciously relaxed my muscles and tried different ways of holding the needles. I will still have some problems sometimes but mostly if I’m using smaller needles for the yarn to purposely make really tight stitches (a bag I’ve started is in worsted weight and I’m using US sz 3 needles so it’s not a knit for a long time at one sitting project) or if I’m working long rows of purls. I’ve gotten so that after the first few rows or rounds I’m really not gripping the needle in my right hand that much, it sort of just rests in my hand.
Pay attention to how you’re working your stitches and where you’re hurting and try to make some adjustments. Sometimes I run hot water in the sink and wash dishes by hand. Moving my hands in the hot water seems to help more than just applying heat.
I knit backwards just to avoid purl rows.
U tube has several videos on exercises for knitters/crochet
I had developed what I thought and even my doctor thought was arthritis. I stopped knitting and crocheting for quite a while. But since I am interested in trying new things and I was learning about an allergy I had as a child, I thought I would just eliminate one food and see after a while if I was still in fact allergic.
The food was dairy. I did without it for months and all the stiffness in my hands went away, but the stiffness was also in my knees, ankles and back. My hands were so bad I could not open a round door knob. My husband went and changed out our conventional door knobs for European lever style because I could do that. I now live free of that sort of pain, though I can still get a flare up with my back, but instead of once every three months, it is more like once in five years!
After the stiffness went mostly away in my hands, I went back to knitting but would encounter residual soreness. So decided to experiment with learning different knitting techniques. That started with Entrelac and discovered the wonders of knitting backwards. I had been an English knitter, actually not throwing the yarn but Flicking, it is a sub category of English/American and is more efficient. Knitting backwards for English knitters is like Continental Combined but going the wrong direction, so it fascinated me to be able to learn a similar technique but go forward with it.
I have finally migrated to Continental Combined, which suits my hands the best and I get even tension. And the purl is so-o-o much easier. I knit for my own pleasure, and get good results. If you like it and it doesn’t hurt, who is to say it is wrong? I love it.
At first, I still could not crochet, but now I can, even have done rugs and purses in cotton.
My doctor asked about my hands because he could remember my large knuckles and the pain I endured. My hands show no trace of arthritis. But it really was not arthritis, it was an allergy to milk, not the lactose, but the casein. Casein is not well digested and as we age, it accumulates in our joints. We do not have a digestive enzyme to really digest this milk protein but cottage cheese is what I actually can eat sometimes. Doing without ice cream is harder but Trader Joes has some good substitutes if I really can’t stand it.
As there are now many good tasting plant-based milks, one can find one or several if they have a notion to try and see if their arthritis is an allergy also. At first I really missed cheese such as on pizza. But in the end, I never miss having the pain.
I have discovered the wonders of coconut and coconut oil.
Recently I had my Gallbladder out, so any cheese, even my occasional cheating, will cause IBS. And no, knitting can’t help that. But coconut oil is easy to digest and replaces oils I should not use. I can use olive oil, but prefer eating green and black olives.
I am of Scandinavian ancestry, mostly. And these countries eat the most dairy because of short growing seasons. They also have the highest incidence of osteo arthritis. There is most likely an association with dairy causing the pain. There is one more problem, the Scandinavians also have a lot of cases of Alzheimer’s, my dad was Norwegian, and he died of it. Does it have a dairy component? It is possible. But it turns out that knitting isn’t just good for the hands, it is wonderful for the brain, produces serotonin which makes us feel calm and whole. At least if my brain gives out, I’ll be happily knitting and not be a grump about it.
I have since given up feeling deprived for giving up dairy. I am glad of what I can do now and all the fun things I’ve learned to cook and find, I am glad more to be well, than missing any food which I am sensitive too.
One thing I am not. Brief. I apologize.
No need at all to apologize! That’s very interesting! I’ve been a vegan for about 2 years now, and had no clue that an allergy to dairy would cause such joint pain! That’s a fantastic point though. It certainly could have something to do with a food allergy… thank you so much for your response!
Yes, because of texting, so many have trouble to complete a thought. But perhaps someone will come across the post and it will ring a bell and they’ll be helped.
I’ve been vegan and I liked it very much but went back to eating meat occasionally. Now I am more limited. I am borderline diabetic so I have to watch my calories and that I get enough protein. I am still recovering, but my aim is to eat less meat and do more plant-based as it digests better.
Thanks for your reply.
sallybode!! I just read your article to my husband. He loves his milk but he also has symptoms like you did! I’m not sure I can convince him about milk but I certainly will give it a try on him…thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sure you helped many people with it…happy knitting and crocheting!!! I love to knit and am learning to crochet…yes…so calming and fun! bonbon
We who have milk allergies used to be more limited in what we can drink or eat. I have found several plant based milks I like and can use them in cooking too. They are coconut and almond, of course without sugar or vanilla. LOL, I forgot I had vanilla almond milk on hand and made mashed scalloped. Now I know why the recipe does not call for “vanilla or sugar”. I could eat it, my husband ate what I made for me and what I made for him. He couldn’t tell the difference.
Making the switch is certainly better than having my knees replaced. And it is so much worth not having to use my wheelchair.
I used to shop only in a Health Food store with strong aversion, so I can understand where he is coming from. Now I am eating to live and my dern taste buds take a back seat. Actually after you get used to some new tastes, the old stuff which I was so sure was good, tastes off, often way to sweet as I have given up sugar too.