The Ugly Side of Knitting

Well, I really did it this week – I had a terrible flare up of my wrist tendinitis (self diagnosed, thanks WebMD)  This has caused me to think about knitting injuries, which are real things, although only your knitting friends will believe and support you through one. So, here are some thoughts I’ve had as I take some time to recover.

Knitting Injuries are Self-Induced

At least all of mine have been.  I’ve had three more serious knitting injuries.  This time with my left wrist and it was totally caused by my trying to turn a heel on a sock with tiny circulars and 6-ply sock yarn.  Let’s just say that even as I was plowing through I knew I would end up regretting it.  In this case, I kept going so I would be motivated to pick up the sock again in this lifetime because I’m loving the sock so much.  I’ve had bad wrists all my life so it doesn’t take much to push them over the edge.

In December I sat for 2 straight hours hunched up trying to finish my Ice River Snood because I was so in love with it that I just wanted it off the needles. I ended up with a very sore neck for a few days after that bad decision (but my cowl was fabulous!)  My other injury was a bit of thumb tendinitis that was caused by too much knitting on too big needles with bulky yarn.  Anyone else see a theme here – we knitters really want to get our projects off the needles and into the world but in the process we may sacrifice our ability to knit.

Ways to Prevent

Let’s start with the obvious – when it starts to hurt put it down!!  But, I will also contend that this is a good argument for polygamous knitting.  In my case some of the strain was caused by the particular needle and yarn size so having multiple projects utilizing different yarns and needles can help you strain less with that one particular project.  The next time someone gives you grief about all those UFO’s – tell them you are working on preventing knitting injuries!  And, the other obvious thing is to get up.  I try to remind myself to get up either between tv shows or during hockey intermissions which are good set times to get up and just walk around the house or get a drink.

I also did a little research and found this article by Pam Allen and my friend, Shannon Okey, Ten Hand and Shoulder Exercises for Knitters and they know their stuff so I might give these a try soon!

What to Do

If you are a self diagnoser like myself you will read that the number one thing to do with these repetitive strain injuries is to rest.  But, for real???  I’ve got knitting that needs to be done.  As I was bemoaning my fate on Instagram Missy from Missy’s Crafty Mess recommended IcyHot so I figured why not?  Usually, I will apply a regular ice pack so I would be more mobile using the IcyHot.  I stopped and picked some up on my way home from work.  I was a bit terrified of accidentally getting some near my eye but all went well and I believe it is some sort of miracle cure.  It’s kind of a weird feeling but it took away the pain.  Now, the bad thing about this is that I kind of thought I could then pick up my knitting but my mother kindly reminded me that the IcyHot was just covering up the pain and everything was still flared up under the surface.  Besides, rest and IcyHot, I’m also a big fan of braces.  I have one for the thumb when it acts up and one for my wrist so I don’t twist and turn it weird ways during the day.

While that’s all well and good for treatment, what exactly is one to do while waiting for all these things to work?  Here’s a list I put together:

  1. Plan more knitting: This seems like a logical choice.  Work on your Ravely lists and check out all the new things you want to knit.  I took some time to plan to join in on Wool Diaries #BlanketMadness which is happening April 24 – April 30.  I have a long lingering Barn Raising Quilt so I thought this would be a fun way to add some squares to it.  I dragged out the bag and counted and photographed what I have some I’m ready to go on the 24th!  Check her out on IG for more info!20160413_203741
  2. Do another craft: Perhaps one that is a little less taxing on whatever part you have strained.  I picked up a cross stitch kit that I bought from Hoop and Needle at Midwest Craft Con.  I cross stitched years ago but have not picked up for a long time.  It’s so fun!  I’m loving it and even took it to knit night so I would have something to keep me busy.20160414_125829
  3. Color: Who isn’t into adult coloring???  I have the Mason-Dixon coloring book which is super fun and I think I saw that Franklin Habit has one out now too which I would love!  Of course, if your strained part is your coloring hand this might not be the best idea 😦20160216_190821
  4. Do other chores: who I am kidding??  This is just a silly thought 🙂  I don’t even have a picture for this one 🙂

I have not knit a stitch since I turned the evil heel on Tuesday night and it’s now Saturday morning and the wrist is feeling pretty good.  I’ve got KAL to catch up on and I need to finish the heel on the sock (I will be moving the heel stitches to dpns, which is what I should have done from the start) and I’m excited about #BlanketMadness starting in a couple of weeks so we’ll see!

 

The Maker’s Year

One of my favorite podcasts is A Playful Day.  It was on a brief hiatus and recently relaunched a new format.  Kate (the lovely host)  has organized various online events in the past that I’ve taken part in, including Love Your Blog week last year.  This year she is focusing on the Maker’s Year.  You can read more about it on her blog and she talks about it on the podcast.  You can also check out the hashtag #themakersyear on Instagram where people have been tagging pictures of their making.  Through this focus, Kate is exploring all the different ways we make and celebrating both the making and the differences in the way we all make.

The question she posed on her podcast is “What does making mean to you?”  She has invited her listeners and readers to blog and post their answers.  It’s such a hard question because I can’t imagine not making.

I’ve been crafting for as long as I can remember.  My grandma crocheted and loved to craft.  When I was little I spent a lot of time at her house.  She tried to teach me crochet but it never stuck.  We would bake, dye Easter eggs, make felt Christmas ornaments and work on other little projects.  I’m sure this sparked my interest in crafting and baking.  My mom was always working on a craft.  She did needlepoint and latch hook rugs and made a lot of wreaths.

I was a Girl Scout until I was in 9th grade.  One of my favorite things was the Winter Jamboree, which was essentially craft camp.  We could sign up for all different craft sessions.  That’s where I learned counted cross stitch and tried a bunch of other crafts, including etching and something called tole painting (not my best craft).  I cross stitched for a long time.  I picked up scrapbooking and card making.  Nothing has ever stuck the way knitting has but all were fun.  I still enjoy making scrapbooks with my travel photos.

Perhaps because we always did crafts when my grandma watched me, I shared crafts with the kids I babysat.  There were 4 of them and 1 of me so it was best to keep them busy, otherwise trouble was not far behind.  Their mom did not craft and so it became our thing.  It got to the point where I would not even get into the house before they were asking what “cwaft” (one had a bit of a lisp when she was little) I had brought with me.  I know I created lasting memories for them.  Even the boys crafted long past the age where they would normally be interested in such things.

I do not have kids of my own but sitting down and doing a craft with them allows you to connect with them in a way that no other activity does.  I have other friends who do not have kids and they often ask how they can form bonds with the kids in their life.  I tell them to craft!  It does not matter if you can or not, you are the adult and they love the attention that crafting provides.  My only craft rule is to have fun!  I try to direct as little as possible and to encourage them to show their own creativity and make a mess!  Everything can be cleaned up.  I find when kids are allowed unstructured time to create they flourish (and, their parents really appreciate it too 🙂 ).

Case in point – I spend New Year’s Eve with a friend and her family.  They have a 4 year old and an 8 year old and they struggle to stay awake until midnight.  This year I thought “let’s do a craft”.  We made wish wands for the new year and they involved a lot of glitter!!  Fast forward to last week.  I was going to watch the girls for a couple of hours and when my friend told them who was coming over the four year old immediately asked what craft I was bringing.  For the record, we made loom potholders which were put to good use 🙂

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Making is a way to create memories.  Making is a language that allows me to connect with others.  My knitting friends (both in person and on line), my friend’s kids, and my family. Being an introvert (INFJ, which is less than 1% of the population, thank you!) having this secret language is really helpful.

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My goddaughters hard at work on rainbow loom bracelets!

And, the thing I really love about what Kate is doing – she is celebrating the differences.  I do not consider myself overly creative or artistic.  Most of my crafting skills are so-so (except for knitting, I guess I’m good at that) but that’s not why I craft.  I’m never going to have those perfectly set Instagram shots on my feed.  My feed is messy, in the moment and what I’m actually doing because that’s how I roll.  In that end, that’s what making is – it’s being messy, trying new things and just letting things go.  And, for us Type A people that’s probably more valuable than therapy!

So, as you are knitting away this weekend, think about what making means to you and then share it with Kate and your fellow knitters!

Travel Tuesday – Midwest Craft Con edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a Travel Tuesday post (and this makes me very, very sad) but all my recent trips have been foiled by Zika virus, leaking roofs and other mishaps.  I started seeing social media posts about the Midwest Craft Con which was being held in Columbus, Ohio – a mere 2 hours from me.  I checked it out and due to current circumstances decided against attending for the entire weekend but considered driving down for the day.  And then, Frekol, the new platform on which I’ve opened a store held an Instagram contest which I won!  And the prize was a weekend pass the conference.

Because this is a Travel Tuesday post, let me say a few things about Columbus.  I travel there often (especially when I was at my old job) but usually it’s for work or an Ohio State football game so I don’t actually spend a lot of “tourist” time in the city.  This trip was not too much different as the conference was packed full of activities.  We did, however, get a 2 hour lunch break on Saturday and it just happened to be 70 degrees – a temp not often seen anywhere in Ohio in February.  The break allowed for a little exploration time.

The conference took place at the Hyatt Regency which is where I stayed.  I will say this about the Hyatt – it needs some updating.  I can’t recall the last time I stayed in a hotel where I could clearly hear all of the conversations my neighbors were having, I was less than impressed.  The exciting part was that is was a block away from the North Market.  I had heard of the market but never had visited so I set off during our lunch break.  It was packed – nice weather bring out a crowd.  There was a mix of prepared food vendors and grocery vendors.  I was there to check out the donut place, the Belgian waffle place, the pretzel place and the ice cream place – tells you something about my food preferences, right???  Even I realized this was an excessive amount of starch so I ended up with a red raspberry/hibiscus donut from Destination Donuts and a single scoop of ice cream from Jeni’s – it was 70, clearly it was ice cream weather! The donut was the best donut I’ve ever had and according to the market website they just won Donut Showdown on Cooking Channel and I can see why.  Next trip will be all about the waffle and the pretzel!

Now, a bit about the actual conference.  I had no idea what to expect which can be a good thing.  It was attended by craft business owners from all over the Midwest.  The crowd spanned from makers, store owners, and show organizers.  I was definitely not near as established as all these people.  There were keynote speakers set for both Friday and Saturday and Abby Glassenberg kicked it off on Friday.  I have followed her on Twitter for awhile now so it was very cool to hear her speak and to actually meet her and chat with her.  Abby publishes sewing patterns and writes about the business of craft.  She gave lots of useful time management tips and just, general, how to make it work tips.  Saturday’s keynote speaker was Lisa Congdon.  I was not familiar with her, probably because she is an artist and illustrator – worlds I don’t wander into often.  However, her speech was so inspiring.  She spoke about finding your own path and steering your own ship and it really has stuck with me.  I will be thinking about things she said for quite awhile.

After the speeches they had Craftivities which were about as fun as they sound!  Friday night included a crafty spelling bee (I made it to the 3rd round) but most of the final round words I had never heard of before so it would have been hard to spell.  Saturday night featured a version of Craft Corner Deathmatch (if you never watched it was a show that was on in 2005 and what I did not realize was hosted by Jason Jones), oh, and karaoke! And, while all that was going on you could learn cross stitch, make a friendship bracelet, play with googly eyes or just work on your craft of choice.

Saturday and Sunday were packed full of sessions given by a variety of experts.  There was a choice of 3 different sessions in each time slot which meant there was always as least one of great interest.  One of the sessions was given by a literary agent from New York.  She also made herself available for 10 minutes one on one sessions which you could sign up for.  I got a slot and I think that was the best 10 minutes I spent during the entire conference.  I really want to write but I get stuck and she was so clear with her advice and gave me an outline and a starting point and told me to e-mail her when I got the book together.  It can’t hurt to have a connection in the book world.  I shared with her some of my ideas and she weeded out what she could sell and what she could not sell.  She also gave a great talk on craft book publishing with lots of things to consider.  Thanks Kate for your time!

My other favorite session was given my Mei Pak and was on social media.  I think I can use the information she shared for both my knitting and for the non profit I work with as we are in need of some social media savvy.  Mei makes food jewelry that smells like the food it is shaped.  Check out her stuff at Tiny Hands!

It was a great weekend!  And, it at least scratched my itch to get out (I still need a real trip and soon but that’s for another day…).  It’s taken me a day to really sort out all of the swag we got (so much!) and connect with the crafters I met and set up my writing plan and that must be the sign of a successful conference!  Below are some pics from the weekend!