Smart Tricks to Make Needlework With Arthritis Finger-Friendly

Have you felt the pain of needlework with arthritis? Helpful tricks can help you meld arthritis, knitting, cross-stitch and crocheting. You’ll not only create sweaters and afghans, you also might increase hand dexterity, says Theresa Leto, an occupational therapist and instructor at the University of Findlay in Ohio.

Leto suggests approaching needlework with arthritis as an athletic event. “Warm up your hand in some way first.” Soaking hands and wrists in warm water prior to picking up a needle helps some of her patients. Then approach the activity like a sprinter, not a marathoner, and stitch in short sessions. Here are more smart needlework tricks from experts.

Knitting’s Still Doable

Trick 1: Try alternatives to metal needles, such as birch or bamboo needles, which are lightweight and warmer to the touch.

Trick 2: Stick with wool or wool blends. Wool is elastic and more forgiving than cotton and other fibers, which makes it easier to manipulate.

Trick 3: Knit flat on a circular needle. Even if you don’t need to make a tube, the circular shape allows the weight of the sweater to fall in your lap, not off your wrist.

Crochet Away

Trick 1: Use flexible, flattened and square crochet hooks. They are easier to hold than traditional round hooks.

Trick 2: Add a foam sheath or wrap a rubber band around the hook handle a few times. It will prevent the hook from slipping from your grip, and you’ll use less force to hold it.

Trick 3: Ask experts to watch your moves. Experts at a needlework shop can suggest adjustments for yarn tension and other ways to ease stiffness and increase nimbleness.

Cross-Stitch Like a Pro

Trick 1: Try leather- or rubber- fingertip thimbles. You’ll increase traction without the need to tightly pinch the needle.

Trick 2: Work on a project with a broader linen weave. It will reduce strain from fine-finger work.

Trick 3: Try embroidery hoops with clamps. You can attach them to a table or the arm of a chair and loosen your grip – and tension – on the hoop itself.

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4 thoughts on “Smart Tricks to Make Needlework With Arthritis Finger-Friendly

  1. Hello; I used to Crochet a LOT, but I got out of it until recently. My co-worker had a Grandson and I made her two outfits! I did really good, which I didn’t know if I could do the job! They came out really nice and she loved them:):)
    Now I don’t know who to make something for! I guess you don’t know until you try!
    Happy Croching Ladies!!

  2. My pain mostly seems to come from actually grasping the finished portion of my crocheted craft, not from keeping tension in the loose yarn or wielding the crochet hook. Is there any sort of tool to help with that?

    1. I’m in the same boat with you. All my pain is in my left thumb & wrist, and my grasp is compromised. I will continue to search the web & if I find anything, I’ll let you know.

      1. I’m also having the problem with the hand grasping the finished product, not doing the actual movement with the crochet hook. I am left handed, so the pain is in the right thumb and wrist. I just started crocheting and really enjoy it, but I don’t want to aggravate my arthritis.
        Would love any suggestions.

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