Knitting Comfortably: The Expert Shows Us How

March 10, 2023

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  • This couldn’t be more timely for me. It made me realize I had completely reversed the motion of my hands, creating all kinds of pain. Thank you. You’re a great addition to the MDK list of contributors.

  • I knit portuguese style, I’d love to see a comment on it, and how ergonomic it is (or could be).

    • I learned Portuguese style when the arthritis in my left hand got really bad (I’ve since had surgery). I found it allowed much less movement of my left hand and created real ease.

    • I just happened to take a full day class with Carson last weekend. He’s the best! So much practical wisdom, delivered in a fun, kind manner. Looking forward to this new feature. Thanks Carson and MDK!

    • I also knit Portuguese style (I was taught to keep the yarn around my neck) so I’m also curious to learn ergonomic tips.

  • Very much looking forward to your future articles. I’m sure they will be educational and informative. An excellent addition to the MDK family!

  • I knit Continental and find that I grip the needles way too tightly. I have thumb issues from a lifetime of pipetting in the lab, so when it hurts, I know to loosen up my death grip!

    • I love this daily bit from MDK! Sometimes it’s a recipe, sometimes a TV recommendation, gift ideas, something thought provoking, and now Carson Demers. So good. Thanks, MDK!

    • I hold my needles in my lap and hold the needle with my small finyside of my hand and manipulate with my thumb and index. Changing position of my fore arms and wrists to give my muscles a break

    • Hello fellow pipetter! I also grip my needles too hard. I’ve been out of science for a while, but have fond/not so fond memories of all that fun. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Lisa- I am entering a decade of pipetting, and I have thumb issues as well- I’m curious to know how you’ve managed to loosen up your death grip? I’m still learning that piece.

  • This is fantastic! I eagerly await the next installment. Thank you.

  • Very much looking forward to hearing more about this subject. I’ve looked at this book many times (online) but haven’t bought it, yet. It may be time to do so now that I’m retired and spending more and more time knitting. Very glad to see Mr. Demers will be contributing regularly to MDK!

    • As a dental hygienist by profession (now retired) and someone who knits and quilts I found the book to be a valuable resource. Definitely worth purchasing!

    • The book will help you knit longer, safely and injury-free!! Not your typical knitting book – mine sits next to my knitting chair and is indexed with post it note tabs!

  • I knit for many hours a day. Before the Holidays I knit way to much and now have terrible shoulder pain. Haven’t seen the Dr because I know she will tell me to stop knitting! Hoping to learn what I can do to relieve my pain.

    • Ginny – if you go to your doctor, she may prescribe physical therapy – which will alleviate the pain. Don’t let the pain get worse!

    • Ginny, I second Trudy’s comment about physical therapy. Ask your doc to refer you. I had bad shoulder pain, and my PT told me it was partially because of low upper body strength. He gave me some simple exercises to do with resistance bands, and they helped tremendously. Also, the number of migraines I got decreased significantly, and I do feel that having more strength and mobility in my shoulders lessened the muscle tension that is one of the triggers for me.

      • As a retired Dental Hygienist, I started Pilates and have mostly corrected the repetitive motion/static position injuries I acquired during 45 years of work. Cannot stress enough to do something to relieve the pain and injuries of past work so we can enjoy our retirement and ‘golden’ years! I have no intention of giving up the joy I get in creating stuff with yarn!

  • So glad you are a new contributor. Looking forward to your future articles!

  • I was fortunate enough to take your class at VOGUE NY and it was the most worthwhile class I have taken there. Every technique class I took – brioche, entrelac, lace – was made easier by the foundation you provided. Looking forward to your future articles.

  • I’m currently knitting TAAT patterned socks and have become so aware of how I knit because the knitting isn’t sitting flat. I went back to basics, picturing in my head how I’m handling the yarn and what happens to the yarn on the needles as I knit. And there’s an improvement in my tension … and it’s fun to keep analysing the actual process of knitting. Looking forward to your future articles

  • This is an awesome article. Now I need to pay attention to the way I knit. I am looking forward to future articles. Thank you.

  • Great article. More, please

  • Kay and Ann- brilliant addition to our wonderful group. This is a much needed aid and I lol forward to more instruction!!

  • So glad you are writing for MDK. There is always something new to learn here, so welcome! I so hope you will address purling in the next article. Even though I am a looong time knitter, I know there is a more efficient way for my hands to “work” while purling. I am a “flicker”, not a thrower. At least for me, flicking is easier on my hands while doing the knit stitch, but I would love to learn better and speedier mechanics to purl while “flicking”. Thanks again for your article!

  • I knit continental but learned English method first. With English method I used to have hand and arm pain, but never with continental method. After reading this, I think I’ve been naturally holding the yarn and needles in the recommended position. I’m going to pay attention next time to be sure.

  • Your book and your help during an online class have been just essential to me! I am so looking forward to reading your column!

  • Ok! Will definitely observe and wait for the next installment!

  • This is very helpful! I’d like to learn more about good head and neck posture when knitting as well.

    • Yes, I second Bridget’s request! I’m sure Carson will address neck and head posture while knitting. I am a continental knitter, and have good speed and consistent tension with no pain in my hands or wrists, BUT . . . I have a bad habit of hunching over while I knit, and that leads to tension in my shoulders and neck — not fun dealing with that!

  • What a timely article! I, too, am looking forward to reading more, esp. about purling. I taught myself to knit, and then changed to Continental knitting but arthritis in my thumb has caused me to quit knitting (plus neck and shoulder pain).

  • I’m just finishing up your book, Carson, and applying that to my work as a software developer as well. I even took the arms off my chair. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

  • Yay, so happy to know Carson will be posting articles. His book has been most helpful! It gave me a new awareness of how interconnected our body parts are, from head to toe and making even a minor adjustment to position can make a big difference!

  • Although I find it challenging to change how I knit, I’m learning to use the Shetland knitting belt as a way to change up the stress on my hands. It keeps the right needle stationary and the left needle does the work. Yarn can be held any way you like. Some people just put the right hand needle under their right arm to hold it steady. I’m thinking that only moving one needle will make me more efficient and cut down on muscle strain.

    • I also knit too much the last few months and have pain to prove it. I just ordered a knitting belt and am anxious to try it. I am a self-taught from a book back in the ’60s, basically a flicker. I have tried continental and Portuguese methods. I row out with continental no matter how much I try to keep even tension. Using different needle sizes for knit and purl didn’t work for me either. It is ugly plus it hurts my wrist. I love Portuguese because my knit and purl stitches are so balanced. However, the Portuguese style causes pain and numbness in my thumbs, probably due to my arthritis. I hope that learning to use a knitting belt will give me enough pain relief to allow me to continue knitting for at least a few more years. I realize that will take some time to comfortable and proficient. Knitting is my happy place, so I am willing to try anything. I don’t want to quit! I am eagerly awaiting the next article in this series.

  • This is so exciting to see! I’m having problems with my pinky fingers while knitting, I’m wrapping them around the needles when knitting, so I’m looking forward to learning how I can recify my bad technique!

  • Very cool information, thank you, Carson. I knit a prodigious amount but always with very minimal movements, how I learned from my mom as a child. I’m a fast thrower but knit colorwork two handed and have never had any pain or fatigue. I guess I have the three axes as I should.

    The diagrams and explanations are fascinating!

  • Thank you.

  • I need to get this book! It would be nice if you could provide a video, of what we should be doing.

  • Wonderful!!!!! Your book sits by my knitting chair, with tabs. Your exercise program and recommendations really helped me recover and return to knitting when I retired and totally overdid it! I review it regularly along with my exercise program, because my whole knitting movement chain benefits from better knitting practices and the specific exercises in your book. THANKS and welcome!

  • Carson Demers is the voice of reason I have waited for through my 69 years of knitting. Yes, knitting is work. Hard work at that. Sometimes, muscles are strained, but most times, they shouldn’t. If we damage some muscles so severely that we have to « change hands », there is something we do terribly wrong and the new method will only result in different muscles being abused. We must learn to know our bodies the way athletes do and treat them well.

  • I purchased his book a couple of years and I refer to it frequently!

  • Carson is the best! I can’t wait to take an in-person class with him.

  • I would love to find out about any upcoming classes on the east coast.

  • I’m always interested in knitting ergonomics. I hope future contributions recommend simple stretching exercises for the hands and arms to do before and during knitting. There seems to be some differences of opinion about what makes a good stretching exercise for knitters. Thanks.

  • I would like to see a video of your technique.

    • Me, too! That would be very helpful.

  • Is there a video to accompany this very important information? Hopefully it’s just me, I can’t find it.

  • Oh no! I’m doing it all wrong. I knit English style and my right hand is doing all the work and movement.

    • I’m the same. Thought it’s interesting he is saying the right us stable when that’s the hand that is doing work wrapping the yarn. I must experiment! I’ve always had left needle stable and I got doing everything.

  • Has anyone used knitting rings and are they ergonomic?

  • I’m
    Very interested in these future article! Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge. Everyone will benefit.

  • Cannot wait to learn more! My style is continental- but my tensioning hand ( left) is the one that has started to bother me

  • Great piece! Looking forward to the next one.

  • Really appreciate these insights as I begin to experience more discomfort knitting due to arthritis. Looking forward to Carson’s contributions to MDK!

  • Thank you so much for this information. I knit both ways, English and Continental, depending on what I am knitting. I must get this book. I hope that it has some tips for maintaining good techniques. I seem to drift back to old habits as I go along.

  • Great article. I also look forward to more. Interestingly I’m an English style knitter and have always had the left needle be the stationary stable one. Here he says it’s the right needle that is less active even though it’s the right hand that’s wrapping the yarn. So maybe my habits are the wrong way around? Something I can experiment with! So thanks!

  • I am so excited to see this! I have a lot of joint/pain issues and I’m a slow, awkward knitter.
    I finally got a rare copy of Knitting Comfortably as a Christmas present & it’s as good as the reviews promised.

    Welcome, Carson, help me fix myself!

    • Carson told us in class that his book is rare if you look for it on Amazon because he doesn’t sell it there so there are only resold copies and they can be very expensive. You an get it easily on his website.

  • You only have to experience tendonitis once to appreciate how invaluable Carson’s book is. Looking forward to more articles!

  • Please continue this subject with the purl stitch.

  • Thanks so much for this Carson. As a PT in my former life, I endorse all of this. As you so rightly say, even back pain can plague the knitter. As we know, sitting properly is the basis of doing all upper body tasks correctly and safely. Could we have an article on correct posture that I can pass along to my knitting group please? I am too busy teaching knitting to do that!

  • It is a very timely price of info since I am experiencing pain in my hands; I am a thrower