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Taking care of your hands

Needleturn for your hand health

As you know I am a needleturn girl and love the process of stitching by hand but I have found that when I do this for many hours and days at a time my hands tell me they have had enough. I am sure this is something many of you have experienced. Add to that a touch of Arthritis and you have the perfect storm.

The act of holding and pulling the needle can cause hand pain some of the time. If you are like me you can also experience pain in the hand that holds your fabric. I have a blog post here which shares with you how to hold a large quilt while you are doing needleturn. Here are a few things that I do that work well for me. These exercises may not work for everyone but they work for me. If you have concerns about your hands please check with your doctor. I am not a medical professional but a quilter who wanted to share what works for my hands.

  • While working I do my best to hold my wrists in a neutral position as to not add stress to that joint.
  • Set a timer for 60 minutes when you are working and take a little walk around your studio, house or yard every hour.
    • While I am taking my little walk I till open my hands and then close them into a fist, repeat 5 to 10 times.
    • Then I hold my hand open with my palm facing me and GENTLY push my thumb towards my wrist (gently and not very far, just enough to give a small stretch) and hold for 3 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times on each hand.

This is a very simple and quick way to keep your hands from getting tired and sore. This does not mean that because you stretch your hands every hour that you can stitch all day but it will help.

There is one additional trick that involves using the right tool for the job. Be aware of the needle you are using when doing your applique or hand quilting, it it is too large and difficult to pull through the fabric try a smaller size needle. You will be surprised at what a difference one size will make. I carry my favorite sizes of John James Needles for this reason.

Try and be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.


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