Looking back through my blog recently, I realised a few things. Around year ago, after doing a studio reshuffle, I embarked on a whole lot of challenges and projects designed to use up and organise. I…
- got rid of my LiveJournal
- got my to-read list into a spreadsheet and Goodreads
- got a lot of art framed and sold
- ripped some paintings off stretchers, sewing one into a knitters loom carry bag and re-canvassing the stretchers
- culled my wardrobe and did some clothes refashioning
- and put a few knitted garments aside to adjust
- culled my box of leftover yarn from finished projects
- wove some of it, and some small batches of yarn from the stash, into scarves
- matched up a whole lot of sock yarn leftovers to make scrappy socks
Then I got RSI and everything came to a screaming halt.
I started seeing a hand therapist and rested my hands as much as possible over the summer. Aside from a setback on Boxing Day, when I wrenched my wrist, my hands slowly got better. In January I started writing again. By March I was doing more craft and tackling the knitted garments that needed adjusting. Then, over Easter, the RSI flared up again. I tried ice dipping*, and it proved amazingly effective, but the flare up was confirmation that my hands have limits now, and I will always have to be careful. Some of the changes I made in order to get better would have to stay.
I can knit for no more than 1/2 and hour at a time, and never on the same day as writing or any other high hand use activity. I have two knitting machines and two looms and have recategorised my stash based on which one to use it with. Fortunately weaving is mostly a shoulder movement, and the only part of warping up the looms that bothers me is untying knots so I just allow more warp and cut things off instead.
During the time I used to knit – while watching tv in the evenings – I now watching less crappy tv and more dvds of shows good enough to hold my full attention. Occasionally I do a bit sketching. Or make jewellery. Or go to bed and read instead. (Reading while sitting up hurts my back.)
I missed hand knitting a lot at first. But the other day, as I did a few more rows of the magic ball scarf, I realised I was just not feeling the love. Not enough to make up for the discomfort I get from hand knitting now. So I frogged it and warped up the small loom to weave it instead.
When I first got RSI my biggest worry was that I wouldn’t be able to write, since it’s my source of income. Next it was that I couldn’t make art. Craft was third on my list. Yet it was the everyday things that I had trouble doing that shocked me the most. Things like chopping vegetables or kneading shortbread dough. Like doing up zippers and buttons. Or lifting and tipping the kettle. Opening mail. Writing my signature. You really don’t appreciate how much you need your hands until they hurt or stop working properly. And that puts not being able to knit into perspective.
*ice dipping: fill a sink or bucket with water chilled with ice, dip hand and arm up to the elbow for five seconds every ten minutes over 2 hours. The advice I got was to do it for several days – at least a week – but I only needed to do it for three.