As you know, my newest
obsession hobby is crocheting. The impetus to delve into this craft was to give me something semi-constructive to do while having bouts of fatigue and being in bed all day, though awake most of the time. The enslaving cycle of Netflix and sleep could no longer be endured, especially once it started creating additional problems for me. So I began crocheting. But, as is typical for chronic pain and illness sufferers, I ran into some obstacles: 1) I developed tendonitis in my left thumb joint from holding my work-in-progress too tightly and 2) the metal crocheting hooks were giving me sores on my right hand and fingers. At first, I tried to be more relaxed and not hold myself or my project too tightly, but no matter how much I willed myself to stay loose, I ALWAYS ended up gradually getting tighter and tighter until sparks of pain broke my focus. As it seemed I would not be able to help myself without external assistance, I went to the “Google box”, as my husband calls it :-), and began researching tools for helping crocheters with hand problems. Surprisingly, I found ZERO articles about how to stop the hand that holds the working (“work-in-progress”) yarn and yarn tail, which is my left hand, from cramping up and getting strained. I was very disappointed and on the verge of giving up when I thought, “Well, how do one-handed people crochet?” This wasn’t a completely ridiculous question since adaptations and assistive technologies for one-handed and one-armed people have been developed for every activity under the sun that they can be. So that was my next query for the “Google box” and, though the relevant results were still small, I did get some useful information. The most helpful and relevant sources I found were the following:
As was true of the results for my first search, the first two sources only relate to replacing the hand that holds the hook (the right hand). Nonetheless, they made me wonder if there was a holding device that would hold the work instead of the hook.
This line of thought led me to the third and fourth sources which were still not what I wanted, but helped me to better visualize what I had in mind. I wanted to find something that would hold crochet work instead of embroidery work. No such thing exists, BUT the “third hand” product from the fifth source was mentioned in an article and it was almost perfect! I just needed a larger clamp and no elastic band but an adjustable neck instead.
I bought some cell phone holders online that clamped onto tables like binder clips do, had flexible necks, and had wide “claws” that looked like they would hold my work on each of its sides (pictured above). Unfortunately, they are a bit larger than I anticipated so bending them to the right distance apart is difficult. And the “claws” do not hold on tightly enough to the work so that it’s taut and I can push the crochet hook through. I’m still trying to find a way to create what I see in my mind. This version of the “third hand”–http://www.amazon.com/Stitching-Helper-Hemming-Embroidery-Sewing/dp/B004QJ3LSE/ref=pd_sbs_ac_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=0WRMWXMJWW5PCWW5BRKM–is much closer and though it still has a small clamp for the work, that should be good enough for holding the row I am currently working on. I may buy two of these and see if I’m right…
The last source in the list, Kroh’s Crochet Aid, was particularly helpful. Though it does not hold the work, it still provides a way to take some of the pressure off of your yarn-holding hand, which is also the goal of having a tool hold the work for you altogether. My husband saw the picture and knew that we could make this ourselves, and he did. We got some velcro from WalMart and he adjusted it to fit around my wrist and sewed a simple key ring to it for the yarn to go through. I use an additional key ring around my index finger. You can see how I use it and if you’re a crochet person, you’ll know how it differs from the standard.
This contraption works perfectly! I don’t have to crook my finger around the running yarn and instead of holding the work between my middle finger and thumb, I hold it between my index finger and thumb. This keeps me from holding it too tightly with my thumb, I think because my index finger is stronger than my middle finger and more used to holding things. And an added benefit has been that I maintain a more even tension and therefore make more even stitches. I also crochet very tightly, but the device helps me to loosen up a little and thus more easily match the given gauge of a project. It even lets me “hold” multiple colors at the same time.
It has been an immense relief to find something that enabled me to continue crocheting without causing myself harm and negating its purpose. Even if I don’t go forward with finding something to hold my work as well, I’m happy with what I have right now!
If you’re a crocheter with a health issue that crocheting potentially exacerbates, what adaptations have you been able to use to improve your situation?