At the Mercy of Knitting Irony

I’ve never seen Phillip this dedicated.

Many have asked why I haven’t been putting up more of my teddy bears in the shop, why we focus so much on Phillip’s Strange Friends.

In practical terms, my hands are working up older orders, and I’m just not able to move them as fast as I used to. So, where once I was able to do 3 bears a day, I’m only able to complete one. My hands feel like lead. They feel heavy, almost as if they are swollen from within, as if the bones in my hands are inflamed. We’ve been dealing with these issues for an awfully long time. We think we keep it managed, but at some point you realize that it’s not getting better untreated. So, we’re going to try some acupuncture to see if that works. But, in the meantime, Phillip does take special notice of my behavior. He mentions that I shouldn’t over do it, that I shouldn’t hold things a certain way. He notices my pick up the coffee cup and y hands shake badly. But, what is worse is when I catch him watching me while knitting and he says, “Your hands aren’t working are they?” It doesn’t feel like carpel tunnel, it feels more arthritic.

But, I have to confess that his dedication has become wonderful. He doesn’t stop for a moment. He takes no time off for himself, no moment away from his crochet hook. And while I painfully attempt to purl, he’s busy whipping up his Strange Friends faster than I have ever seen anyone do amigurami.

I do get a little emotional about it. I watch my husband busting his butt to save the day. And where once I was the one who was ambitiously out of control, I’m at the mercy of irony: that the one talent I had that brought me out of homelessness is failing me. A bit like the singer who notices they can no longer approach certain notes. Or the athlete who realizes he can’t run as far as he used to. We all come to the realization that we get older, and our bodies don’t cooperate with our determination like they used to. You get to that point where you begin to think in modes that reflect an obvious panic, you begin to dream of yesterday, rather than the future. And you begin to question what you’re going to do next. It’s even hard to type, to write, to keep the pen in my hand, as I think of my other talent. And you realize…..

You’re not the machine you once were.

So, we rely on Phillip for now, while we consider what to do next. But, this life of mine as a knitter is now hindered. This life of mine as a writer is now hindered. We rest on his Strange Friends.

To be truthful, I’m worried about our future because I always thought I could rely on these hands. We started doing this show because I felt it coming, I knew I needed to start moving down a new avenue, because my hands were beginning to fail. I’m generally an intensely optimistic person. But, I can’t help but admit that it does way heavy on me, and some depression sets in.

I dunno. Sometimes I come here to my blog to just….think. To get things off  my chest. So, you’ll forgive me if I just “talk” sometimes and work things out. I’ve been staring out of this window before me quite a lot lately. And I keep thinking, out there, out this window, is not where the answer is, but here (tapping at the heart), is where I need to disappear for a minute and think. I do stare out that window and I have a tendency to get teary eyed. Then I hear Phillip approaching and I pull myself together and brush it all off. Because I’m worried. I truly am worried……

Thanks for listening.

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  1. Just a suggestion, something you might want to try – Phiten Titanium Discs/Tape. You can purchase on Amazon, not terribly expensive (70 count/2 pack was $19.95 + shipping-i don’t have Prime). I also have arthritis in a few of my fingers/thumb and am also a knitter. I began using these about 7 or 8 yrs ago and they work for me. I’ve gotten a few of my knitting friends to use and they have said they do help with the pain.

  2. I am glad you have each other, now matter what you have each other. I hope you find a simple solution to your hands issue but life has a way of opening doors when needed. There is a scot’s phrase I love which respects the work you do, but says ‘What’s for you, won’t go passed you’ meaning if you keep your head up and eyes open you will get the good in life. Can also mean if it doesn’t end up as you, then it wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes you think your life has a direction and a purpose and then it all changes, life is what happens while your planning other things at times. I love your wee films and getting to know Philip has been a joy. enjoy and remember you are not alone you can have a break and rest the hands! Good luck.

  3. Awwww honey, I hate this for you. But you will figure it out. You have before. In the meantime, vent all you need to – we got ya.

  4. I am quite a bit older than you and have abused my hands as well. I purchased tommy copper gloves and and knitting and quilting like a fool. I just purchased more products from Tommy Copper because they are having a big sale. My husband has a pair of the Copper fit he wears when his hands hurt. Wishing you much success and little to no pain.

  5. It does sound like it may be arthritis. This site here, , has some suggestions, and changing up your needles may help (either switching to bamboo if you don’t already use them or switching to circular needles for most of your knitting, even flat). You could also Google around for different warmups and exercises for your hands and arms. Hopefully, you’ll find something that works for you and you’ll be able to continue to knitting. Best of luck to you.

  6. Do go see a good acupuncturist, they may be able to help you alot, as mine has helped me. It’s about inflamation, and he/she can help you find out how to reduce it. I find that eating wheat is a huge problem for many with arthritis; I miss good, chewy bread but the arthritis is soooo much better without it! It’s hard to be as strong as you are all the time – hang in there.

    1. I agree with Sarah – my hands (and knees and ankles) feel ever so much better when I avoid foods containing wheat. I also feel better when I avoid dairy – milk, yogurt, my beloved ice cream (although I can and do use butter with no adverse effects). Gregory, maybe you should try a Whole 30 for a month and see how you feel both during the process and as you start reintroducing foods after it is over.

      (disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with Whole 30 – I just feel ever so much better when eating that way)

  7. What is the longest time you’ve taken a break from knitting? I have what ranges from not-so-bad to terrible tennis elbow (tendonitis) and suffer through it because knitting is my peace, zen, sanity. However, it’s been recommended to me to take a week long break and massage my elbow. I realize your problem is different and I know you rely on knitting for money. It may be worth it in the long run.

    Also, arthritis is inflammatory and there are lots of foods that cause an inflammatory response in the body. It helps to cut out those foods – sugar, refined flour, fried foods, dairy, processed meats – and add in Omega 3 oils like flax, green leafy veg, fruits and nuts.

    I’m sure anxiety and stress over this exacerbate the situation. I feel your pain. ❤

  8. I’m still recovering from a high speed car accident and both hands were badly injured. This was in January. I can still crochet, but my slow recovery is frustrating. My employer has lost patience and I’m going back to work before I’m ready. I’m just glad to be alive.

  9. I have arthritis and permanent tendonitis in my hands and arms. I like you pushed myself beyond belief in my work and I’ve paid the price. You need to take some time off from knitting. Take time off from the keyboard. There are natural plants that have anti-inflammatory properties and things you should stay away from. Believe it or not, the best thing I have found after seeking treatment for many years is ibuprofen. I have to take 800 mg three times a day, no less than 6 hours apart. Ice is your friend too, an ice pack should become your friend for a while, that will help with the inflammation. Get a ziplock bag and add two cups of water and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. Freeze it and it’s reusable. Poor man’s recyclable ice pack :). Hope you get to feeling better!

  10. Hi Gregory,
    I’m really sorry to hear about your continuing ailment. Everyone here has already been really helpul, from the Portuguese knitting (loved the video, want to try it myself) to the warmup exercises and approaching the activity like a sprinter, not a marathoner (which you obviously have been all those years…) to taking a real break from knitting, to getting rid of the toxins (pollutants) in your body (this is paramount in curing any ailment, whether physical or psychological)… May I contribute with my little touch of French wisdom? 😉
    So as to both ease the pain and nourish the joints, have you ever tried our « little fairy of resistance » (it’s a pun in French: “l’ortie fée de la résistance”): the stinging nettle! You’ll have to be very brave to try the topical use of the nettle sting (basically rubbing your hands with nettle leaves! washing your hands with them!) but I know you are, and I swear it works! And then ingesting nettle leaves (you brew a beautiful and delicious fluorescent green herbal tea with a handful of leaves, you drink it, then you eat the boiled-up leaves with a “vinaigrette”: delicious!) could work wonders for you. You will learn everything you need to know on the magical stinging nettle fairy here:
    I dearly hope you find your own way of curing this condition. And don’t forget that rest is always a good way to start…

  11. I’ve been a musician all my life, and a serious knitter for half my life. My hands are not in the greatest shape and I have to limit the time on my primary instrument. I see some mentions of avoiding wheat, and the Whole 30 diet. I follow low carb, high fat. It makes a huge difference. Huge. I’m so pissed at doctors who told me low fat eating was essential for good health. It ruined my health in so many ways. I suggest and Dr Atkins inflammatory diet book, Dr Davis’s various books, and Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat” all free at the library.
    I’d also recommend machine knitting 🙂

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