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Knitting with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Updated on February 26, 2014
Knitting on the S-loom
Knitting on the S-loom

I've wanted to learn to knit for a very long time. As a child, my grandmother taught me how to sew and crochet. Even though I am left-handed and she was right-handed, she managed to teach me how to crochet. My grandmother did not knit. When I discussed knitting with her years later, she said I'd need to find someone who knits left-handed to teach me properly. Throughout the years, when the topic of learning to knit arouse among friends and acquaintances, they would echo the same advice. I needed to find a left-handed knitter willing to teach me.

Learning how to knit took a backseat to daily life and other activities. I didn't pursue trying to hunt down a left-handed teacher. I developed hand problems from typing, though I remember having hand pain and cramps even as a teenager. I was a writer and artist at heart. Unfortunately, those repetitive motions caused carpal tunnel and Guyon's canal syndrome in my hands. It seemed like learning to knit was definitely beyond reach now.

I couldn't imagine holding knitting needles for any significant length of time. The repetitive motions of knitting made me wary as well. The desire to learn knitting never completely disappeared.

Thinking about how I've made some accommodations for drawing and painting, I wondered if there was any way I could knit. Then, I was introduced to knitting looms. I was browsing an arts and crafts supply retailer when I saw a knitting loom on sale. I didn't know there was such a thing. The loom was the KnittingBoard (KB) Super Afghan Loom. I did a little research of customer reviews and YouTube videos of people using this loom and other looms on the market.

The KB Super Afghan Loom is a 60" S-shaped loom. There are other S-shaped afghan looms available, but this one seems to have more space between the ends of the loom and middle which can be a tight working space on some looms. With the carpal tunnel and Guyon's canal syndrome, I wanted to choose a loom that would be the easiest to use.

Space between the end of the loom and the middle
Space between the end of the loom and the middle

Starting to Knit on the Loom

As the video states, the loom comes with instructions for four projects. Though I understood the project instructions, I did not understand the diagrams for how to make the stitches. YouTube was most helpful for teaching me the basic stitches on the loom. The first and easiest project simply alternates between an e-wrap stitch and purl stitch. Easy enough, right?

Well, I am completely new to knitting. I don't even understand the knitting jargon associated with choosing a yarn. The instructions that came with the loom suggested a boucle yarn, so I chose Rainbow Boucle in blues by Purl Essence for my first afghan.

With the help of some short YouTube videos showing how to cast-on the loom with the e-wrap stitch and how to do the purl stitch, I was amazed how quickly I progressed. My afghan is more like a belt at this point, but I was surprised by how easy it is to knit with a loom. I only do a couple rows at a time. If I try to do more, I start having pain in my hand. I find the loom makes it very easy to stop whenever I feel uncomfortable and pick it up again without worrying about missed stitches.

E-wrap Stitch

Purl Stitch

Crafting with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

As I've found with my art and now with knitting, carpal tunnel syndrome doesn't have to stop you from doing something. Instead of thinking you can't do something, ask how you can do it. For drawing, I found that using charcoal instead of pencil requires less pressure from my hands.

Many crafts can be completed with small adjustments. If there is craft that you enjoy that causes discomfort or pain due to the carpal tunnel syndrome, I recommend taking the craft to the doctor or physical therapist to determine the best ways to continue to do that craft without aggravating the carpal tunnel syndrome.

The humble beginnings of my first afghan.
The humble beginnings of my first afghan.


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    • profile image

      Teboho 3 years ago

      i was in the middle of cominetnmg here this morning, and well, you know.I was gonna say the skirt looks so perfectly swingy! I have several vintage knitting books etc etc, but have felt kinda lost when it comes to knitted boy things. and why is it that the goodwill has so many more girl clothes than boys? not fair. For all of the crafty-goodness to be made, I can't help but hope for a girl next.

    • Sheila Wilson profile image

      Sheila Wilson 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you, Audrey. It's a lot of fun.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      So glad to hear that you have found a way to continue knitting!

    • Sheila Wilson profile image

      Sheila Wilson 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you, purl. I think activities like arts and crafts are wonderful for all ages to practice. It definitely exercises the creative mind and is good for self-esteem with progress and mastery.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      Great to hear about your experience knitting with a loom. I do a lot of knitting and have designed some knitting patterns, but haven't tried one of these looms yet. They look like fun.

      I have a friend who goes to nursing homes with the simpler versions of these looms and teaches the residents to weave. Such a great activity to keep the mind active, the creative juices flowing, and the fingers nimble :)