Avoiding pain while knitting

Like every other knitter on the planet right now, I’m making a slouchy beret-type hat. I’m using a variation on purse stitch, an open lacey stitch that in this case is achieved by alternating rows of *yo, p2tog* with *yo, k2tog tbl*. The second row twists the stitches and makes for pretty tight knitting, and I was starting to get pain my left shoulder from trying to wedge my right needle into the loops. Pain while knitting is Not Good, because if you keep knitting through the pain you’re likely to eventually end up with a repetitive stress injury. So, I put the hat down for a while, took a couple ibuprofen, and came up with this idea to make things easier:

I’m using Denise interchangeable needles, and while the pattern calls for US 10s, it’s really only the right needle that counts when knitting in the round–that’s the needle used to form the actual stitches. The left needle serves only to hold the stitches, so it could be any size. What I did was swap in a size 5 needle for the left, which gives me a lot more room to knit the stitches with the size 10. More room = less pain when knitting. (Though I’ve decided that if I knit another one of these hats in purse stitch, I’ll go with a version that doesn’t twist stitches.)

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2 Responses to Avoiding pain while knitting

  1. apryl says:

    are you making mary jane’s pithy hat? i am looking at starting that project tonite! i came across your post while searching for the “yo, tbl” because i want to make sure i get it right. i know what you mean about the pain of a k2tog, but i’m not sure i understand how using a smaller needle on the left will help. also, would this only work with interchangeable needles?

    thanks for the info, i have been knitting for only several months & have a consistent pain in my right wrist, but don’t want to stop knitting!

  2. quenouille says:

    Yep, that’s a Mary Jane hat. And yes, this will only work on interchangeable needles when working in the round.

    The reason it makes a difference to use a smaller needle on the left is that–when knitting in the round–the size of the stitch loops you’re making is determined only by the size of the right needle. You wrap the yarn around the right needle to pull through the loop on the left, but since you never reverse the work when knitting in the round, the left needle serves only as a place to hold the stitches. If you use a small left needle, you’ll have more room to insert the right one, as the stitch loops are much bigger than the left needle (they were all created by wrapping around the larger right needle). Hope this makes sense, I’ve only just started my morning coffee :)

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