Thursday, January 27, 2011

Relax, stretch, and knit!

On our January Friday Night Knit Club (FNKC) our theme was all about rest, relax, and renew. We had a spa night and partnered with Salon Bliss who is our neighbor, two doors down from our shop. They did paraffin hand waxing on everyone and showed them all of the wonderful amenities of their salon. Then everyone came back to our shop and one of our customers, Carrie Cavanaugh, who is a licensed massage therapist, kindly gave the ladies hand and forearm massages. Need I tell you how heavenly it was?

Carrie also shared some great tips and stretches for knitters who are having hand and arm pain while knitting. I've decided to include Carrie's tips and stretches (minus the actual demonstration that she showed us).
Thank you, Carrie!

  • If a pain arises, take a short break to do some stretches, clean, run errands, make a phone call, etc.
  • If pain becomes chronic, take a few days off to allow your hands, wrists, etc. to heal.
  • Make a point of taking breaks to prevent pain from occurring.
  • Use circular needles instead of straight needles whenever you can! Circulars bring your work closer to the middle of your body, reducing the torque placed on your arms and shoulders.
  • Watch your posture! Do your best to keep your back in a relaxed, but not slouched position. (Boy did this speak volumes to me!)
  • Sit up as straight as you can. Your neck should be straight, elbows should be at your sides, and wrists straight or slightly flexed in.
  • Taking breaks helps to keep your posture by allowing your muscles to rest.
It's very important to understand how a stretch should feel. A good, effective stretch shouldn't hurt. As you go into a stretch you should feel tension building up until you feel the stretch begin. The beginning of the stretch is where you want to hold it. If you strengthen a stretch too much you lose the relaxing feeling you get from it. When muscles are over-stretched, they have a tendency to contract or spasm, causing the potential for injury.

Gently hold stretches for 8-10 seconds.

Warm up muscles before stretching by shaking your hands and rolling your joints (wrists and shoulders), to get the blood moving.

The Stretches
  • Extensors (the tops of the forearms) - With your hand face up, wrap your finders around your thumb into a fist and brind your hand towards you with your opposite hand, bending at the wrist.
  • Flexors (the bottom of your forearms) - With your hand face down and flat, use your opposite hand to lift your hand and fingers backwards, bending at the wrist.
  • Biceps Brachii (front of your upper arm) - Find a wall, and while standing, place the backside of your hand against the wall. Turn your body away while keeping your arm close to the wall.
  • Pectoralis Major (chest) - Use the same technique for biceps, but place your palm on the wall instead.

If pain persists even after trying Carrie's tips and stretches, SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR to rule out any serious conditions. They can offer options such as physical therapy or massage therapy, medication suggestions or prescriptions, or additional home care tips you might not have tried.

If you're interested in getting a massage, visit Carrie's website for more information! She left a corporate massage business and just opened her own business, so we'd like to help her get started.

Keep on knitting (after stretching occasionally)!

I'm still knitting gifts...

I was very fortunate to get the gifts on my gifting list knitted in time for Christmas. Well, all but Tim's sweater, and that's a totally different story!

Tim's "Hiker" sweater has a wide ribbing ("k5-p3" pattern repeat) for the entire back. And when I got to the top of the back it seemed like the gauge changed dramatically. When I got to the decreases for the armhole, the instructions read that I should knit 31 rows and the armhole should measure almost 9 1/2 inches. When I measured the completed opening, it was a little over 7 1/2 inches. I was afraid that even if I blocked the back like crazy, the sleeves, the front and the back wouldn't fit together well when I seamed them. I'm going to ravel and knit the back again with a 7-mm needle instead of the 6.5-mm that I'd previously used. I'm also going to TRY to work at an even tension. The reason I snugged up on the back was because of the loose knit stitches that sometimes occurred on the last stitch of the knit 5 section when I went from knit to purl.

Tim's sweater will have to wait a bit while I knit a scarf for our nephew Zach and a baby blanket for another nephew's baby boy that will be born sometime this March.

I'm using the "Noro Striped Scarf" pattern for Zach's scarf, but I'm knitting it with my favorite yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash (machine-wash and tumble dry low). He picked his own colors (Jet and Christmas Green) for the scarf so I know he'll be really happy and a whole lot warmer walking across campus. Now if he can only keep from losing it!

As for the baby blanket, I'm knitting the "All Purpose Knitted Afghan" from Project Linus. Again, I'm knitting it with Cascade 220 Superwash in a blue-green hand paint color called Celtic. Hopefully I can ship it off to Ben and Karie in Southern California by the end of March...

Keep on knitting!