Showing posts with label crafting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crafting. Show all posts

Tis the season for RSI's

Chances are you're probably in that holiday craft twilight time - the mad dash to get all those projects finished that you have in mind for your handmade gifting this season. I feel your pain, I have a list myself. I am also fortunate in that I get to knit and crochet as a source of income - so that's a lot of time spent with my hands and wrists in repetitive motion which could lead to repetitive stress injury or RSI. Even without the worry of RSI's, working long hours on knit or crochet projects can make for some pretty sore and tired hands, aching shoulders and a complaining spine.

So what can you do to reduce pain and fatigue while you craft?

Use proper body mechanics

I know I've spent some time on my nice comfy couch with feet propped up and needles in hand, in front of my favorite show only to be terribly disappointed when I can't move without pain just 30 minutes later. How is it I can spend hours in my craft room and barely tolerate the comfort of my red cushy leather couch? It all boils down to proper body mechanics.

Keeping your spine in proper alignment will help reduce pain and fatigue. Your grandmother was right - sit up straight. We all have three natural curves in our spine: the cervical (neck), the thoracic (upper back) and the lumbar (lower back). Proper alignment of the spine means keeping these natural curves lifted, not collapsed or held. Picture your spine as a gentle S curve, with each vertebrae stacked gently on top of each other. When you sit, you should feel your ears balanced over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips and your spine lifted. If you have a chair with a lumbar support, make sure it is in the proper position and uncross those legs! Crossing your legs while you are seated will cause the spine to twist in an unnatural position which will lead to an aching back and shoulders. Speaking of legs, make sure your chair is at the proper height for you. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle - no dangling feet and no knees pointing up. When seated, you should be able to have both feet comfortably on the ground while maintaining that 90 degree angle. I personally don't use a chair with a back. My favorite crafting chair so far is a padded storage stool. It's the right height, it's comfy and it serves a purpose (it holds my spinning fiber). I make it a point to sit up into proper spine alignment while I work but when I notice I'm starting to slouch I move on to the next point.

Take frequent breaks

It's important to take frequent breaks. If you notice yourself slouching or your shoulders are starting to squeeze in on your neck then it's time to move around. Get up, do a few squats, or a few lunges. Gently stretch your fingers back, give yourself a mini hand massage, lift your hands up to the sky and stretch out your spine. Do anything that will gently stretch those muscles and joints and get the blood moving.

I save my dusting and vacuuming for some of my "break" times. And fortunately with two large breed dogs that like to shed a lot, it's a daily break time opportunity.

De-stress your workspace

The quickest way to sit in a hunched or stiff position is to have a stressful workspace. Try not to have too many projects out at once, especially if you're planning on them all going out the door at once! This is a visual cue of a pile of work that needs to be done. Pull out one project at a time, work on it for a while then put it away before pulling out your next work in progress. This will keep your workspace de-cluttered and will help you remain calm. Stress? What stress, I'm almost finished with this and I see nothing else that needs to be done right now. That's my yarn zen mantra - it's a little simplistic but it works.

I hope you get to enjoy your crafting as much as I enjoy mine.

~Happy Crafting!~

Disclaimer: I am not a physician and can not diagnose or treat any condition. The advice given here is my personal opinion for my situation. If you are having difficulty, please consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Finding the right size yarn

Fingering weight, hand dyed yarn from Color Energy Designs
Fingering weight, hand dyed yarn from Color Energy Designs
Finding the right yarn for your next project can be tricky; especially if you've decided that you want to use a yarn that's different from the one listed in your chosen project. Much of the yarn industry is standardized in terms of labelling but every once in a while you come across an absolutely stunning yarn without all the easy markings. In that case, you can use the wraps per inch (WPI) method to determine the yarn weight. To get the yarn WPI, wrap the yarn around a pencil and count the amount of times you can wrap the yarn in an inch. Take care not to wrap tightly or stretch the yarn while wrapping. In a yarn store without a measuring tape? No worries. The distance between the end of your thumb and the knuckle is approximately an inch.

Once you've determined your WPI, use the chart below to view your yarn weight and type. Then let the crafting begin!

Yarn Type
Common Uses/Qualities
Doilies, fine lace, airy shawls. Beautiful drape; blocking is usually key for getting that desired effect.
Socks, shawls, kerchiefs, fingerless gloves. On smaller needles, provides solid texture. On larger needles, nice fluid drape.
Baby clothing, lightweight sweaters, and various lightweight accessories.
Baby clothing, lightweight sweaters, accessories, blankets/afghans, heavier socks.
Mittens, sweaters, scarves and hats. Blankets/afghans.
Aran is similar to worsted. Blankets, winter accessories, fall & winter sweaters.
Heavy sweaters, blankets, hats, cowls. Usually knits up quickly (depending on the project).
Super Bulky
5 to 6
Yarn rugs, heavy sweaters, thick blankets. Depending on the project, a very quick knit.

Pardon the long break!

I can't believe how long it's been since my last post! It doesn't feel like months but I guess that's what happens when you immerse yourself in this wonderful world of learning opportunities.
Anyone that knows me already knows I have a yarn obsession (I say healthy interest - potAYto, potAHto). I love all the textures, the colors - I love to shop for it, knit with it and even just look at it all neatly nestled in a bowl on a table top. It's not really a problem....there is still room to move around.
But now on to my new obsession - undyed wool. Little skeins of untapped potential. I purchased undyed wool skeins and koolaid packets and then started watching every video I could find. I admit I didn't jump in right away - I was too nervous about ruining the wool. As soon as I convinced myself that it was okay to make a mistake I began dipping the first skein into its color-filled hot bath and a deeper appreciation for the wool-y arts has begun.
I may have to open my own shop soon, the yarn stash is beginning to reach private collection status and I'm okay with that!
Happy Crafting!