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Your top tips for comfortable crafting

Knitting and crochet should be soothing, relaxing, comfortable and mindful - but we all know that there are times when our arms ache, our shoulders hurt, our stress levels go through the roof when we’re trying to remember a stitch repeat, or we lose our place on a chart.

We asked you, our community of crafters, for your top tips for making knitting and crochet more comfortable, and this is what you told us!

1. Use a pillow

Ann Gray, from Belfast, suggests that you put a pillow on your lap and rest your project on top - this definitely helps if you’re working on something big or weighty, or you’re using bigger needles. If you’re working on a blanket, or big sweater, sometimes the project can just pull on your hands and wrists, so Ann’s suggestion will definitely help!

2. Change your needles

Changing your needles is a subject that has been mentioned a couple of times. Switching to bamboo or wood can help if you find your hands getting sore. Jean Coral from Sydney says, “I have loved switching over to bamboo knitting needles they stop the pain I used to get in my hands when I knitted with the other less pliable needles. No pain in my hands at all from knitting now.” and Christina Nightingale found that for her, using the “shortest possible needle” made a really big difference to the pain in her hands.

3.  Relax

It sounds obvious, but it is far from easy. Denise Hardin from Idaho tells us, “RELAX. It’s not going to end the world or destroy your life. Drop your shoulders from their clenched position beside your ears. Do not wrap your yarn around your finger 7 times, take a deep breath and enjoy the process!”

Our crafts are supposed to relax us, but there are times where we have to actively make ourselves shake out the stress!

4. Use the centre pull from a ball of yarn

If you find that your yarn is rolling all over the place, there are few strategies you can use to keep it still. Beth Walker from Seaford, Victoria says, “I use the yarn from inside the ball out, prevents it rolling around” but if you can’t find the centre pull of a ball (not all brands have one), then you could invest in a yarn bowl, or make your own, to keep those pesky yarns from running away!

5. Try circular needles

If you haven’t discovered the joy of circular needles yet, you have a treat to come! Circular needles not only help with hand pain, they also help with managing stitches, especially when you have a lot of stitches on a needle. Rach Watkins from Lumby in Canada told us, “Circular needles for everything has helped my hands not hurt” and it’s absolutely true - the shortness of the needles helps with hand pain, but also using the cable to hold large numbers of stitches takes the weight out of your hands and allows it to sit in your lap, which can help greatly with pain radiating up your forearms and into your elbows and shoulders. Long needles are often problematic for elbows and shoulders - so go circular whether you’re knitting in the round, or back and forth.

6. Regular breaks

It’s tempting to just keep going, especially when you’re engrossed in a pattern or watching tv as you knit, and ‘just one more row’ can turn into another 10 or 20 rows. This is when you start to store up tension in your neck and shoulders - as well as getting tired, too. Shandra McNiven suggests that we “get up every half hour or so and walk around the house, and don't forget to stretch your shoulders and spine when you stretch your hands.”  Very good advice!

7. Choose your time and place

When you have a tricky section of a project to knit or crochet, where you know you will need to really concentrate, it’s essential you are not interrupted. Victoria Baljo says she knits “when my home becomes quiet” -  and we think that’s very wise indeed. It’s almost impossible to follow a chart, or work a complex lace pattern if you’re distracted or trying to focus when it’s noisy. This is great advice to follow for knit and crochet projects for travel, too - make sure you have something that isn’t too taxing for crafting on a noisy train or waiting for a hospital appointment in a busy department.