A woman sitting in a chair, knitting, with the yarn creating a brain, hobby, positive, happy, mental health, active hands, occupied, coping mechanism, spare time Female, adult, senior

4 Ways Self-Care Is Like Knitting

Last updated: November 2022

I’m learning to knit. This was entirely unexpected after 15 years of crochet and a lifetime of being surrounded by crochet. My mother crocheted. I crochet. My (imaginary) daughter Dawn Jr. won the World Crochet Championships wearing a blindfold, or something. She's also an MLB pitcher.

I’m what is called a “new knitter.” Doesn’t that sound amazing? Can’t you just see a bunch of us all shiny and new, rolling off an assembly line holding needles in one hand and yarn in the other?

I’m from Michigan, so you’ll have to forgive me. Assembly lines are kind of our thing. We even have one for tanks. We can probably make you a tank overnight. It would go much slower if I tried to help, but if you want just the one tank I’ll put on some safety glasses and get going.

Knitters have offered to teach me over the years, but it was hard to imagine myself joining their ranks until my friend explained that there was another way to knit called Continental. This more logical (in my opinion) and comfortable method is also called German and European knitting.

At first, even the “easier” Continental knitting seemed impossible. Everything was awkward and I kept dropping my needles. And the needles were pointy, with no hooks on the end. What in the world?!

After several months of practice on an abused ball of basic 4 weight acrylic yarn I can kind of knit things. My ultra basic beginner stitches look okay. This whole process reminds me of learning and relearning how to live in and take care of my arthritis body.

Here are my 4 tips for learning to knit, live with arthritis, or both

Keep an easy grip

It’s tempting to hold on tight when it feels like something might be slipping away. This often ends with sore hands and dropping things.

Keep a gentle and even tension

If I pull too hard on my yarn or stitches the finished fabric will be rough, puckered, or uneven. The key to good results is taking my time and stopping when things are still fun.

Keep your supplies in good order

This applies to knit, crochet, and most crafts. I’ll knit or crochet if my supplies are easy to get to and ready to use. We all deserve to do the things that make us happy. It’s important to center this source of happiness and contentment.

Try going up or down a size

Sometimes my project just won’t work up well. Sometimes it’s the yarn. Sometimes it’s me. There might be something wrong with my needles or hooks. The great YouTube Yarn Host Cinnamon Stitches advises to switch out your tools to see what might work better.

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