Sunday, July 24, 2016

How Do You Hold Your Knitting Needles?

Do you ever get those painful cracks on your thumb?  You know, they just show up suddenly, at the tip of your thumb pad, and hurt like the dickens.  And, they take forever to heal. 

I got one about a week before I had to leave for fish camp.  This was seriously problematic for me for two reasons:  one, I couldn’t knit; and, two, I can’t pick fish if I have an open wound.

I couldn’t knit!!  This is a catastrophe.  I slathered the crack with Neosporin, put on a fingertip bandage, and grabbed by needles.  The yarn stuck to the edges of the bandage, and I couldn’t feel the stitches.  When it came time to purl, I was done – no way could I knit with a clunky, bandaged thumb.

This got me to thinking about how I hold my needles.  I’ve been knitting for 25 years, and I teach beginning knitters all the time, so I’m always talking about holding needles.  But, I really had never looked at how I hold my needles when I’m just knitting away.  So, I looked, and found some interesting things.

          I grab onto those needles as if, as my dad always says, I was killing snakes

          I lift my shoulders a bit and tense them up, and my neck, too

          And, I hold my right needle with the tip of my thumb!

I hold the right needle with my index finger along the needle pointing to the point of the needle, my middle and ring finger wrapped to the inside of my hand holding the needle, and my right thumb tip pushed hard against the needle, amazingly right where the crack is!

My first thought was, LIGHTEN UP!  I made a concerted effort to drop my shoulders and not grip the needles so hard.  Not easy.  I placed more of my thumb along the needle, rather than just pushing at it with the tip.  Felt weird, but it didn’t hurt, and it worked.  My rhythm was off, and my gauge a bit sloppy at first, but it’s coming along.  I imagine my neck and shoulders will feel better, too.

Oh, and fish camp.  My husband and I commercial fish in Bristol Bay each summer.  I’m one half of the crew, so I have to be at 100% the whole time.

You can get fish poisoning from an open wound.  That requires a trip on the 4-wheeler to the clinic, antibiotics, and you’re done picking for the season.  Can’t happen.

I suffer from those cracks a lot in the winter.  So, now, if I’ve actually figured out how I cause them, and can work to NOT cause them, I’ll be looking at a much nicer winter to come.

Kathy Meggitt