Drea Renee Knits

Hand Care: Taking Care of Our Most Precious Tools

knitting, techniques, toolsAndrea Mowry8 Comments

This past week I have been very busy knitting EVERYTHING. As you can imagine, this can take a real toll, and so I wanted to take a moment today to talk about taking care of and protecting our most precious tool - our hands. Early in the week, with deadlines looming, I noticed I was knitting "thru the pain," and knew I had better start paying attention to that twinge of discomfort pinging in my thumb. Even though I didn't want to, I set my knitting down, did some stretches and a hand massage, and left my knitting for the next day. Taking this brief time out, allowed my hands the necessary time they needed to rest so that I didn't end up with a worse problem. In the past, I made the mistake of ignoring the warning signals - and paid the price dearly. Listen to your body, take short breaks now, so that your hands don't end up on the sidelines for a number of weeks (or worse months!)

I have been an avid knitter for many, many years, but before knitting became my job, my hands were still the force behind my livelihood. My twenties were spent baking as a pastry chef, with a brief stint as a hairdresser thrown in. I love to use my hands, and they have treated me well over the years. After a few injuries, I have learned to take good care of them, so I can continue doing what I love!

I am sure I am not the only one out there guilty of hours of marathon knitting whenever my life allows. You may have had your own experiences in the past of "over-doing" it, and ending up with very sore hands (or worse, a serious injury.)

Let me stop and say here - I am not a doctor. Everything contained in this post is what I, personally, have found helpful, and is my own opinion. If you are concerned you may have injured your hands, please see a specialist!


My top three tips for keeping your hands happy and crafty are:

1. Take breaks!! It is so easy to slip into the knitting zone (especially if you have a great Netflix series or audio book going ;). Your hands will fair much better in the long run if you take a break at least every 30 minutes. It doesn't have to be long, but just something to break up the repetitive movements. A few minutes, and you can pick up and keep going! If you tend to get lost in the meditation of knitting, try setting a little timer on your phone as a helpful reminder!


2. Moisturize! Especially in these colder winter months, are hands get so dry. Give them some love with a good moisturizer. And better yet, throw in a quick hand massage at the same time! My current favorite that I keep in my project bag is Love and Leche Lotion Bars. I have tried all kinds of different hand products, and I really love this one for a number of reasons. For one - it's adorable, I love the stamped bee on the bar, or even better the hearts they stamped for Valentine's Day! The scents are delicious, while being very mild. I love my essential oils, but I don't always want to impose them on the entire cafe I happen to be knitting at! Most importantly - this lotion doesn't interfere with my knitting. I have tried so many moisturizers that leave my hands greasy or wet feeling, which is not ideal when you are trying to work with fiber and slippery needles. These bars feel decadent as your rub them between your hands, and then leave a moisture that is easy to work into your skin, leaving your hands soft and ready to knit. I actually love my bar so much I wanted to share with you a quote from the companies site:

When you receive one of my soaps or lotion bars, they may have been hand-poured by my son Simon, and packaged by my daughter Roan. The packaging was designed by a local designer, and strives to be as green as possible for the size of my business: recyclable, reusable, re-giftable, or keepable-foreverable! The artisan designs were thoughtfully created as a collaboration between myself and local sculptor Stephanie Huerta...
— www.loveandleche.com

What a great treat to have in my bag - from a family run business that cares. To read more about the benefits of these bars, and to get your own you can head HERE. I am lucky enough that my LYS sells these - yours might too!

While moisturizing my hands, I always give myself a little hand massage. One of my favorite parts of the massage is to pretend that my fingers extend all of the way to the base of my hand at my wrist. I follow this path all the way up, pushing and squeezing gently, to the tip of each of finger. Imagine you are "milking a cow."

While moisturizing my hands, I always give myself a little hand massage. One of my favorite parts of the massage is to pretend that my fingers extend all of the way to the base of my hand at my wrist. I follow this path all the way up, pushing and squeezing gently, to the tip of each of finger. Imagine you are "milking a cow."


3. Stretch! Below are some of my favorite stretches to do during my breaks.

I typically begin my simply bracing my hands against a wall or table and pushing gently. I start with my fingers pointing up, hold the stretch for 10 seconds, and then rotate so my fingers are pointing down and hold for another 10 seconds.Β 

I typically begin my simply bracing my hands against a wall or table and pushing gently. I start with my fingers pointing up, hold the stretch for 10 seconds, and then rotate so my fingers are pointing down and hold for another 10 seconds. 

Here is another variation on that same stretch that you can do anywhere. I really like this version as I can very gently adjust my hand a bit to the right or left to feel the stretch stronger on one side, and then the other. This is great to loosen up your wrist. Remember to repeat this stretch with the other hand!

Here is another variation on that same stretch that you can do anywhere. I really like this version as I can very gently adjust my hand a bit to the right or left to feel the stretch stronger on one side, and then the other. This is great to loosen up your wrist. Remember to repeat this stretch with the other hand!

This stretch I find not only alleviates any tension in my forearm and wrist, but also in my fingers. With your arm outright, gently pull back on your fingers with your other hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with your other hand.

This stretch I find not only alleviates any tension in my forearm and wrist, but also in my fingers. With your arm outright, gently pull back on your fingers with your other hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with your other hand.

Thumbs! Mine seem to get the brunt of the work sometimes and can get really tight. In this stretch just hold your hand out with fingers spread and gently pull your thumb towards the back of your hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat with your other thumb.

Thumbs! Mine seem to get the brunt of the work sometimes and can get really tight. In this stretch just hold your hand out with fingers spread and gently pull your thumb towards the back of your hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat with your other thumb.

Pinky's up! Same as the above stretch, just with your pinky instead of your thumb. Feel free to repeat this stretch with all of your fingers.

Pinky's up! Same as the above stretch, just with your pinky instead of your thumb. Feel free to repeat this stretch with all of your fingers.

This forearm stretch is another favorite. I work down the outside of my arm, then rotate and work down the inside of my arm. Simply squeeze and then gently push down towards your hand (without actually slipping down your arm) to stretch. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Let go, move down your arm a little ways, and repeat. I usually do 2-3 segments to make it down the lower part of my arm.

This forearm stretch is another favorite. I work down the outside of my arm, then rotate and work down the inside of my arm. Simply squeeze and then gently push down towards your hand (without actually slipping down your arm) to stretch. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Let go, move down your arm a little ways, and repeat. I usually do 2-3 segments to make it down the lower part of my arm.

Same as above, working down the inside of my arm.

Same as above, working down the inside of my arm.

Lastly, a stretch I think we are all familiar with! Simply lock your fingers together, rotate palms facing out and push away from your body. Hold stretch for 15 seconds, repeat if desired.

Lastly, a stretch I think we are all familiar with! Simply lock your fingers together, rotate palms facing out and push away from your body. Hold stretch for 15 seconds, repeat if desired.

I hope this post helps to inspire you to take care your precious five-fingered assets. If you have any tips you want to share on you how take care of your hands- please leave them in the comments!!


Congratulations to Nikki - the winner of last week's giveaway!!