A Thank You Letter to Crochet

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Dear Crochet,

We got some really good news today and I wanted to share it with you. But first I need to thank you for everything you have done for me. Two and a half years ago I was in a bad place. I couldn’t stop worrying about my son. I couldn’t stop dwelling on “what if” scenarios. While scrolling through Pinterest late one evening, I stumbled upon a photo of you and that moment changed my life.

(Here’s a link if you would like to read more: Why I started crocheting and you should too!)

You have kept my hands busy so my mind could rest. You have given me hours of entertainment. My love for you has even helped me make new friends! I cannot thank you enough for that. While some may see you as just a silly hobby, I know you are so much more. You give back and expect nothing in return. You are always there waiting when I need you.

I’ve learned so much from you. I’ve learned that I can persevere even when something is tough. I’ve learned that I can stay up late just to finish something beautiful. I’ve learned that I can make others happy too! I have sobbed with a crochet hook in my hand, and I have laughed until my sides hurt. You were always there. Quiet. Patient.

Back to my good news, today we sat in the neurologist’s office and heard the words I have wanted to hear for so long. The doc had a big grin on her face as well. I kept asking if what I was seeing was true and she assured me and my son that it certainly was true. My son does this thing where he tries to hide a big smile when he’s embarrassed, and he did that today. It melted my heart. I could see that he understood what that moment meant. He understood that this is the end of a long hard road that took many twists and turns down dark, scary paths.

I promise that I will share how wonderful you are. I will share with others how you help people through the good times and the bad. I will tell others about your calming presence.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming into my life. I wouldn’t be here without you. I know that my son’s situation may change. I know that the good times may only be here for a short time. But I also know for a fact that you’ll still be here.

Love,

Elise

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5 Lessons Makers can Learn from Disney

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Pio Pig – Made by me – Pattern from Les Petites Mains de Khuc Cay

Yes, I am that crazy woman who brought a crocheted pig into Disney World and snapped a photo of him! On an average day almost 53,000 individuals enter the gates of  Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL. Gasp. Let that sink in for a sec… That equals over nineteen million visitors each year! It is the most visited amusement park in the world and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon, even with more competition coming on the scene in recent years.

We recently went on a wonderful trip to Disney World. It had been almost a decade since we had been there and I saw it with new eyes! Waiting in line for the Small World ride my family and I began discussing how well Disney deals with the overwhelming crowds of people. I noticed how clean all the little nooks and crannies were while waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. At the Confectioner’s Shop I couldn’t help but be impressed with the smiles from the cashier even though she had likely been there for quite a while and had been ringing up customer after customer.  It got us all thinking about the inner workings of the iconic park and how they have perfected the concept of “experience”.

For the rest of the trip and the nine hour drive home I thought about how Disney does what they do and how well they do it. It began to dawn on me that many of these same principles can be applied to our own little handmade businesses as well!

(For more information about the pig pattern check out my Amigurumi Pattern Directory)

Branding

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No one, and I mean no one, has perfected their branding like Disney. Their font is instantly recognizable. The music, the movies, the merch… it doesn’t even need to have their name or logo on it and we all know exactly where it came from.

How can we as handmade makers begin to develop our own brand recognition? First I believe we all need to be clear about who we are and what we do. I have a few friends on Instagram that I immediately recognize their photos, I don’t even need to see their handle. The products they make, the style of their photos, and their consistent editing make them a brand, and a good one at that! One maker has a very rustic look throughout all her photos, another has bright pinks, yellows, and turquoise! They both have different photos, products, and messages they are promoting, but they stay true to their defined aesthetic.

Details

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I was awestruck when I really took the time to notice all the details at Disney. Since I had a lot of time to wait I started looking for them and I was not disappointed. Each and every ride had so many details, from the cobwebs at the Haunted Mansion to the antique furniture in the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, no element was overlooked.

In my humble opinion details make the creation. What I mean by that is the little details create the entire piece. For example, my little piggie wouldn’t be nearly as adorable if he didn’t have eyebrows, or suspenders, or his little bowtie. Even if you are making a toy that doesn’t have a lot of details within the original design, that shouldn’t stop you from creating them yourself. Packaging and tags are another way to add those personal details that make toys special.

(For more about how to create those memorable details: Making Amigurumi: The Artistry is in the Details)

Consistency

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Disney shows up day after day, week after week, month after month…you get the idea. When someone buys a ticket to Magic Kingdom they can be assured that the quality of the rides, the food, and the entertainment value will be the same. I have been going to Disney World since I was a young girl and there is a sense of comfort knowing that I’m going to enjoy my favorite rides and shows.

As makers we need to show up, whether that’s on your social media accounts, blog, or website. We need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And that’s hard. It’s hard when you’re in a creative slump. It’s hard when you’re sick. It’s hard when you’re busy. But that’s what sets apart the serious makers from those who just want a hobby. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby, but for those of us who want more consistency is key.

Message

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Disney’s slogan is “The Happiest Place on Earth” and they work very hard to make sure that message comes across loud and clear. They aren’t screaming this statement from their rooftops but they are clearly communicating it. Every employee has a smile on their face. Every ride is full of happiness. Take the Haunted Mansion for example, some theme parks have haunted houses and they are scary! But Disney’s is spooky in a fun, childlike way. Their message is unambiguous and consistent.

What message are you trying to convey? Are you a serious maker, are you silly, are you quirky? What do you want people to know about you? How do you want them to feel when they interact with your content? Defining your message and communicating it in written and visual form is paramount to your success.

Service

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Every single Disney employee we encountered was friendly and knowledgeable. The waiter at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant was professional and conscientious. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was so charming. I’m certain that Disney employees are trained in excellent customer service.

We as makers should treat our own customers with great care. We are creating an experience for them as well. When they purchase a finished product, respond to our content, or buy a pattern they should feel our appreciation. I don’t have a physical storefront, but I do have a virtual one and I try to treat online customers just as I would if we were face to face. Making people feel welcomed is something each one of us can do!

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These five principles are simple. It doesn’t take a genius to see how important they are for handmade businesses but it does take effort, a lot of effort. What suggestions do you have for making your small business better? Do you have big scale organizations you look to for inspiration?

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The Lazy Gal’s Guide to Beginner Embroidery

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I’m lazy. I hate doing things the hard way. I always have. If there’s an easier way to do something, sign me up! If you want to stitch a beautiful embroidery project with half the effort, this is the tutorial for you!

This beautiful design by Lolli and Grace is perfect for the beginner embroiderer. Not only will learn how to make several foundation stitches, but how to prepare to embroider as well. The Lazy Gal’s Guide to Beginner Embroidery will help you stitch a beautiful hoop without any fussy, unnecessary steps!

Disclosure: Please note that some of these links are affiliate links, and at no cost to you, I will earn a teeny, tiny commission if you decide to purchase them from Amazon. These are products that I know, love, and trust. I have and will continue to recommend them regardless of my affiliate relationship with Amazon. Thank you for supporting Le Petit Saint Crochet!

MATERIALS:

Home, Love and Dreams from Lolli and Grace

Embroidery Floss

Darice 39104 Wood Embroidery Hoops 7in

Caydo 12 Inch Embroidery Hoop Bamboo Circle Cross Stitch Hoop Ring for Art Craft Handy Sewing

Edmunds Quilters No-Slip Hoop Tape

Wrights 8823005 Water Soluble Marking Pen, Blue

Aleene’s Fabric Fusion Permanent Fabric Adhesive 4oz

Linen fabric

Felt for backing

Embroidery needles

Scissors

Step 1: Prepare Your Hoop

I have stitched embroidery hoops before and spent too much time trying to keep the fabric stretched taut inside the hoop. The lazy way is use hoop tape that secures your fabric so you don’t waste precious energy adjusting it every five minutes! Hoop tape has an adhesive side and a rubbery side. The adhesive side touches the hoop while the rubbery side touches the fabric. Carefully wrap the tape around the inner hoop. The package will have good instructions as well.

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You may not think you need this hoop tape, but you do. Just buy it. It’s not expensive. But it will save you the time of having to constantly stretch you hoop and keep it taut during the stitching process. Make sure that as you apply the hoop tape you work hard to keep it neat.

Step 2: Prepare Your Floss

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When you separate your floss and keep it well organized it makes for an easier time, but honestly its not necessary. Do it if you want, but skip this step if you are on the extreme end of the lazy spectrum.

Step 3: Transfer Your Pattern

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Before you begin transferring your pattern make sure your fabric is unwrinkled. Mine needed a good hot ironing, but that’s because it is linen and had large lines from where it had been folded. Do this step as lazy as possible! You might even hang up your fabric in the bathroom when you take a hot steamy shower. But just make sure the wrinkles are out! Transferring the pattern is a necessary process and it’s kind of fun. I pin the paper pattern underneath my fabric so that it doesn’t move around while I am tracing.

You will also need a light source. I used my ipad opened up to notes, but you could use a light box or even tape it to a sunny window. It’s critical that you use a water soluble pen so that if/when you make a mistake you can take it out. It also makes finishing the pattern super easy.

Step 4: Cut Your Fabric

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If you have a large piece of fabric you will need to cut it. I used a 12″ embroidery hoop to trace a circle to cut the extra fabric. You don’t need to purchase an additional hoop but this is the lazy way. Otherwise measure 1.5 – 2″ away from the outside of the finished hoop and draw a circle to cut the excess fabric. You will want to have your fabric in a circle shape to make finishing the hoop super simple. Since my linen fabric had the habit of fraying at the edges, I used a little bit of fabric glue on the edges to keep it from fraying. You could also use Fray Check or a similar product.

Step 5: Stitch Your Pattern

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Backstitch

A majority of this pattern is backstitched and even when it’s not perfect it turns out really nice.

The next stitch you will do is the Lazy Daisy. This is another super easy one but once you see how it’s done you realize that the term “lazy” is the perfect adjective. You will also need to Split Stitch and Satin Stitch in this pattern. The Satin Stitch is the most difficult but with a little practice you will become more comfortable and proficient at it.

Backstitch Tutorial

Lazy Daisy Tutorial

Leaf Stitch Tutorial

Satin Stitch Tutorial

Step 6: Finish Your Hoop

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To finish your hoop you will want to make a running stitch on the outside of the the excess fabric. It will gather all your fabric and create a neat little package to hide underneath your felt.

Step 7: Erase Your Blue Tracing Marks

This step truly is the most fun part! You’ve done the hard work and now you get to see the results! I used a wet paper towel and gently patted the fabric. Magically the marking disappears and leaves your gorgeous stitching! Voila!

Step 8: Prepare Your Backing

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I know I need a manicure!

To make your embroidery hoop look neat and professional you will want to add a felt backing. Using your water soluble pen trace an outline of your embroidery hoop onto a piece of light colored felt.

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Carefully cut just inside the line so that when you place it on the back of your hoop it doesn’t show from the front.

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This is where this project really gets lazy. Using your fabric glue add a generous amount to the outside edge of your felt backing.

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Press the felt backing to your hoop, making sure that the fabric touches the inside gathered, excess fabric. Finishing a hoop in this way hides all of the unsightly things on the back side of your project

Step 9: Impress Your Friends and Family

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This is when you get to impress your family and friends! Only you and I will know that this wasn’t as hard as they all thought it was.

In all seriousness embroidery is such a fun hobby and with a few tips you can make a beautiful hoop without a ton of effort!

Differences of Knitting vs Crocheting Amigurumi

Differences of Knitting vs Crocheting Amigurumi

I’m just going to admit this right here and now, I’m an amigurumi addict. I love making them and love learning new ways to create them.

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Even though I’ve crocheted dozens of amigurumi, knitting them was totally intimidating. I consider myself a basic knitter and was unfamiliar with the techniques used to create knitted amigurumi. When I discovered the adorable patterns from Mary Jane’s Tea Room I knew I had to give it a try! I’m so glad I did. Her pattern is also a tutorial in and of itself and worth every penny! There are wonderful explanations and photos to help along the way. She also has links to video tutorials to help with certain stitches.

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There are several differences between crocheting and knitting in general. The main one is in the way crocheted stitches are completed before moving onto the next stitch. Whereas in knitting the stitches stay on the needle until completed in the next row. The fabric each produces is also quite different. If you are nerdy like me and like learning about these things check out the fascinating Wikepedia article all about crochet and the differences between it and knitting.

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Differences in Crocheting vs Knitting Amigurumi

  1. The texture and attributes of the fabric                                                                               The differences in the fabric these two techniques create is striking. Crocheting creates a knobby, thick fabric while the knitted fabric is finer and smoother. But the biggest difference is in the quality of the stretch of the fabric. Single crochets create a nice tight weave for making amigurumi, but there is very little stretch at all. The stockinette stitch knitting creates is a very stretchy fabric which in turn changes the entire structure of the amigurumi animal or doll.img_3877
  2. In the round vs. flat construction                                                                                           Before making this pattern I had only crocheted amigurumi in the round. Those patterns typically either start at the top of the head and work down, from the nose and work in, or from the feet and work up. The teddy bear pattern from Mary Jane’s Tea Room (you can find a link to the pattern at the bottom of that page) is knitted flat and then seamed together. For quite some time this technique kept me away from attempting to knit amigurumi. It seemed so incredibly foreign to me and I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge. But I found that its like any skill that just takes practice and a desire to learn.img_3883
  3. Seaming: Joining vs Mattress stitching                                                                                With crocheted amigurumi attaching snouts, limbs, and heads is a fairly simple technique. There is however a delicate balance between pulling the yarn tight enough to hide the stitches and not causing the fabric to pucker. Here is a link to a great Youtube video showing the way I like to join my crocheted amigurumi pieces: How to Join Amigurumi Pieces. For knitting, mattress stitches are used to close the flat sections to create the rounded parts. This stitch has proven to be a little tricky for me causing the joined sections not to look as neat as I would like. I did improve as I continued working the pattern. I found that using stitch markers to identify which rows should be joined together helped in making the seams more even. (Link to Youtube video tutorial for mattress stitch: Mattress Stitch Tutorial )img_3873
  4. Stuffing                                                                                                                                         In my book, this is the most important difference. With crochet, stuffing typically will not change the shape of the amigurumi toy. It is quite important to make sure that it is stuffed really well, it actually feels overstuffed. Over time stuffing will deflate a bit and an an under-stuffed toy will not look its best. In knitting, stuffing is part of the shaping process. The pattern may even specify which areas need more stuffing to create the desired shape. Because of the stretchy fabric knitting creates, strategic stuffing is imperative. If you add too much Polyfil to a knitted toy it will distort the the entire shape.         img_3914                       
  5. Final product                                                                                                                                Knitted and crocheted amigurumi may both be toys but the process and final product are quite different. The crocheted toy is solid, sturdy, and structured. The knitted toy is typically soft, squishy, and supple. Both are adorable and both have their challenges. I do not have a preference and believe that both are worthy of making. I plan on making many more crocheted and knitted ami!

I’m so glad that I didn’t let my fear of knitting amigurumi stop me from trying. My little teddy is far from perfect but he is perfectly wonderful! There are a plethora of great amigurumi toy patterns (Check out my Amigurumi Pattern Directory to find some of my favorites) but I have not found as many for knitted toys. Be sure that I will be on the hunt for them and will share them with you all!

Thank you so very much for coming to my blog! I am so incredibly thankful for each and every one of you! I would love to know if you have crocheted and/or knitted amigurumi! Do you have a preferred method?

 

KonMari for Crafters

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Why This Crafter Needs KonMari

This is the stuff of horror movies and I’m putting the carnage and chaos on full display.  I’m ashamed to admit that my beloved crochet room is no longer the pristine, restful place that it was just a few short months ago. When we turned our spare bedroom into a space for my own creativity I proudly shared a tour and was so incredibly proud of it. (You can read more about that here: A Room of Her Own: A Tour of My Little Crochet Room and What it Means to Me). Fast forward to today and it’s a complete disaster. A big hot, unorganized mess. The video below isn’t for the faint of heart! Lol!

I wish I could write that I purposefully trashed this room for dramatic effect for the blog. But sadly that would be a lie. This is the state it is currently in and I am bound and determined to do something about it! I’m sure by now you have heard about Marie Kondo, her book, and her Neflix series. KonMari has become a household word in my neck of the woods and has me so excited about taking control of my spaces.

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Fabric scraps in a mason jar, crochet books, and magazines piled high on an overstuffed dresser.

The KonMari Method

1 – Commit yourself to tidying up: 

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I’ve been avoiding this particular step for some time now. I’ve made excuses for why this space stays so unorganized like, I’m creative so it’s going to be messy. I’ve even equated messiness with creativity. But in actuality that is just a crutch and it only gives me a reason to keep the junk. So although this may seem like the easiest step it is probably the hardest for me. I’m committing myself to tidying up my crochet room and I’m no longer going to give myself a hall pass.

I do think it’s important to understand why this space has become so completely unorganized while the rest of my home is fairly neat and tidy. I think the number one culprit is too much clutter. There’s way too much furniture in this small room and it always feels crowded no matter how organized it is. I want to remove pieces of furniture to allow this space to breathe.

2 –  Imagine your ideal life

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When I imagine my ideal crochet room, it is roomy, uncluttered, organized, and beautiful. It creates a feeling of calm when I cross the threshold. It sparks my creativity and inspires original thoughts. Currently it is the exact opposite. It stifles my imagination. It causes me to feel anxious. I avoid it. It’s claustrophobic.

3 –  Finish letting go first

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I’m actually really looking forward to this part. I’ve been telling myself the lie that I need to keep certain things like yarn I don’t like, because I may need it some day. But truthfully I only use a handful of yarns and I rarely if ever even look at the others. I need to donate the yarn that I am never ever going to use again. I need to toss the scraps that somehow I have talked myself into keeping as well.

4 –  Tidy by category, not location

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Crochet tools in a repurposed makeup caddy.

This makes the most sense for this space. Tidying by category, not location, will make my job much easier. I’m going to keep yarns separated by brand and weight. (You can read more about my favorite yarns for amigurumi here: Yarn Recommendations). I want to keep my tools in a more logical order as well. Knitting needles and crochet hooks need a place of their own. My patterns have a file box but somehow when I pull them out they just end up in a pile on the floor.

5 –  Follow the right order

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Marie Kondo recommends tackling clutter in the following order:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (a.k.a. Miscellaneous Items)
  5. Sentimental Items

I think for my crochet room I will adapt this since it doesn’t really fit for this space. For the clothes I will substitute my yarn and all other fiber materials. I will keep the books and papers in the above order. I’m also going to substitute tools for Komono. The final step will will be for miscellaneous items like my camera equipment. I don’t really keep sentimental things in my crochet room so that category can be eliminated. Here is my revised order for tackling this space:

  1. Yarn, embroidery floss, fabric, and ribbon
  2. Books and magazines
  3. Papers – patterns, certificates, printed articles
  4. Tools – crochet hooks, knitting needles, embroidery hoops, scissors, etc.
  5. Miscellaneous (anything else in the room like camera equipment)

6 –  Ask yourself if it sparks joy

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This is the part of the KonMari method that really speaks to me. Since I was a small child I have been personifying every single thing in my life. In middle school I remember a pair of Esprit espadrilles that had seen better days. I didn’t wear them anymore because they were so battered and worn out but I couldn’t bear to throw them out. I kept imagining how sad and betrayed they would feel at being discarded like just a piece of garbage.

Marie Kondo recommends holding each item to see if it “sparks joy”. Does it give a thrill or happy feeling when it is in your hands? If not, thank the item for serving you and either put it in the donate, sell, or throw away pile. I can really get behind this action. I love the idea of thanking items for their service, but at the same time removing them from my own home. It is acknowledging items for what they are and have done and letting go without guilt. img_4046

I’m actually looking forward to this process now. I have a plan and for me that is half the battle! Do you follow the KonMari method for your home or crafting area? How do you keep your creative spaces organized?

Interview with an Amigurumi Designer: Crochet to Play

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Have you ever thought that something looked fairly simple, but when you actually tried doing it yourself you found it incredibly difficult? No, just me? Haha!! Well that is exactly what amigurumi design is! When a designer does it well, they make it look easy and that certainly is the case with the talented Jennifer behind Crochet to Play

Jennifer’s style is whimsical and full of the wonder that fills childhood play. I found Crochet to Play just last year and was immediately impressed with her unique designs and adorable characters. I feel lucky to now consider her a friend. Jennifer’s designs are so imaginative and I want to make every single one of them! I was honored to be able to pattern test her Felicity Fawn pattern last month! Isn’t she adorable?

I’m not the only one noticing Jennifer’s work, recently her Little Red and Wolf pattern was published in Crochet Now magazine! She is currently designing animals for her Forest Friends collection and has released Mrs. Millie Mouse and Felicity Fawn. Jennifer just finished designing Mr. and Mrs. Hedgehog and they are the cutest pair you ever did see!

I am amazed with Jennifer’s “scope for the imagination” (bonus points if you know where that phrase comes from) and I can’t wait to see what is up her sleeves! I hope you enjoy this interview and I just know you’re going to love her work!

 

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Jennifer from Crochet to Play

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, husband, kids, job, favorite food, movies, hobbies outside of crochet. I’m from the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where I met and married an amazing guy and where we’re now raising our three sweet kids together. We met at a golf course over 18 years ago – I was a cart girl and he worked in the restaurant. The rest is history!  I’m a part time teacher (I work with students with reading difficulties like dyslexia) and mostly I’m just a busy mom. I love Mexican and Italian food and tend to binge-watch Hallmark movies while I crochet at night. Crochet is definitely my main hobby, but if I don’t have a hook in my hand, I love making memories with my family – going on walks, to the zoo, or to the beach.
  2. When did you start crocheting? I started crocheting about nine years ago when my oldest daughter was a baby. I wanted to be able to make her cute things and was intimidated by knitting, so I learned to crochet. I knew a little bit from my mom and grandma and learned the rest from the public library!

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    Daniel and the Lion’s Den

  3. When did you start making amigurumi? One day, a few years ago, I was browsing the yarn aisles at Michael’s and I stumbled across Ana Paula Rimoli’s book Amigurumi World.  To say I was mesmerized by the cuteness is an understatement! I fell in love with amigurumi right then and there and haven’t stopped making it since.
  4. When and why did you start designing amigurumi? I designed my first amigurumi pattern (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) three years ago. I was ready to transition from selling made-to-order items, mostly hats at the time, to something totally different. So I gave designing a try, and knew right away I wanted to design amigurumi. I had (and still have!) notebooks full of ideas that I couldn’t keep inside. It was a slow start, maybe a pattern every few months at first, but it has built up over time.

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    Little Red Riding Hood

  5. What does your creative process look like? Like I just mentioned, I have notebooks full of toys, themes, and sketches of amigurumi I’d like to make. When I officially begin a project, I generally do a quick sketch and then decide on yarn colors. This can be painstaking for me. I can always “see” the finished design ahead of time and then have to find yarn to match my vision. Once I finally do, I map out the parts and pieces I’ll need to shape and join and then I start experimenting until I get it right!
  6. Why do you think people should make amigurumi? Oh, so many good reasons!  I think amigurumi makes people smile. It’s such a unique niche in the fiber arts.  It’s very satisfying to make a toy from start to finish, especially as your skills improve and you can enjoy it more and more.

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    Felicity Fawn

  7. What makes you excited about the yarn and crochet community? I am crazy about the crochet community!  I absolutely love the connections I’ve made with other makers in this craft – people from all walks of life who get just as excited as I do about a yarn delivery, or a new finished project, or a pattern release that has roped us all in. Social media has given us a window into how many amazing makers are out there right now, putting their fresh stamp on crochet. It’s being modernized in a lot of ways and I love getting to see it and being a part of it.
  8. What are your goals and dreams for Crochet to Play? This year, I’d like to continue releasing patterns from series I’ve started – more animals for the Forest Friends, more Bible stories, with a few other patterns in between. I would like to grow Crochet to Play in the future as my kids get a little older, but I don’t yet know what that will look like. Perhaps books, perhaps with a blog.  It’s been a dream come true already so I am open and excited to how it’s going to grow.
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    Christmas ornaments

     

    You can find Crochet to Play on Instagram and Etsy

    If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

Making Amigurumi: The Artistry is in the Details

Do it Scared…Explore Your Creativity

 

 

How I Healed my Crochet Elbow: AKA Tendonitis

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I tend to overdo things. When I’m interested in a subject I will eat, breathe, and live every single minute detail and then some. Crochet has been no different for me, if anything it’s been more engrossing than anything I have been passionate about before. I love reading about it, looking at it, writing about it, and doing it!

I began having problems early in 2018. I would occasionally experience pain and stiffness only in the right elbow but that began to change as the months wore on. By spring of of that year the pain was waking me up at night and doing normal everyday activities began causing me a lot of discomfort. Gripping items like a hairbrush caused lightening bolt pain to radiate up and down my arms.

For months I tried to ignore it. I tried a few home remedies but nothing worked. Finally I went to the orthopedic doctor. He diagnosed me with Tennis Elbow, or tendonitis. He recommended a shot of cortisone in the joint might help with pain and advised that I take some time to rest. The injection itself was fairly painful, and I say this as a woman who has given birth with no anesthesia! It wasn’t horrific but it was definitely uncomfortable. By the next day I was actually regretting having the injection done because I was feeling a good bit of pain. By day three the discomfort was noticeably better. A week later I claimed that I was completely healed and went right back to crocheting 24/7.

Approximately three months later the trouble with my elbow was worse than ever. Everyday activities were even more difficult and I was now emotionally worn out and discouraged. Something that brought so much joy to my life was now causing so much harm. I reluctantly went back to the orthopedic doctor. He recommended that I begin physical therapy and that’s when my condition finally began to improve.

The following suggestions are what I learned from the physical therapist I worked with. She was very knowledgeable about repetitive motion injuries and how to heal them. I am so grateful for her wisdom and understanding! I hope you find something that you can apply to your own life to either help heal tendonitis or help prevent it.

Rest

This was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. I did not want to put my crochet hooks down for any reason, but eventually the physical therapist convinced me that I would never get better if I didn’t. What surprised me was that I didn’t have to put them down for days, weeks, or months at a time. She just recommended that I only pick them up for a max of a couple of hours a day and to take breaks. This seemed very reasonable to me and I began implementing this right away. I stopped the marathon crochet sessions late into the night. I started taking breaks every thirty minutes or so. If I could only recommend one suggestion this would be it!

Stretch

When my physical therapist first examined my arm she noted all the knots up and down my forearm, around my elbow, and up my tricep. These knots are caused by tight muscles and tissue bunching up and causing pain. During my crochet breaks my PT encouraged me to stretch. I would stretch my wrists, elbows, chest, forearms, and back muscles. As with most things, in the beginning I would overstretch and cause pain and more damage. My PT taught me that stretching should never hurt. Push to the point where you feel the stretch but not to the point of discomfort.

Ice

This is my second most important suggestion. After putting ice packs on my elbows following crochet sessions I began noticing considerable improvement right away! This was the hardest thing for me to remember to do, but I also believe it made a huge difference in my recovery from tendonitis. I used simple gel packs from Walmart and always kept one in the freezer so that I could apply it at any time.

Identify

Identify what triggers your pain. While listening to a BHooked podcast about different types of yarn I learned that cotton could be part of my problem. (You can read more about that here: Saying Goodbye to my Beloved Cotton Yarn) I switched to wool and wool blend yarns and began to notice a big difference right away. During my physical therapy treatment I tried using cotton yarn again and immediately began feeling that familiar pain. I haven’t picked it back up even though I absolutely love the look and feeling of quality cotton yarns.

You can read more about my favorite podcasts here: My Favorite Handmade Business Podcasts

I also identified that holding my dog’s leash was causing problems as well. My physical therapist recommended using a different type of leash that I could wrap around my forearm rather than by holding the handle on the type we have.

Crocheting was definitely the main trigger for my tendonitis but there were other factors that were contributing to it. Really begin to notice what could be causing pain, even if it seems too small to be the culprit. You might be surprised what little things you are doing in your own life that could be causing problems!

Strengthen

My physical therapist used a metaphor that helped me to see more clearly the objectives we were trying to achieve through strength training. She compared crocheting to running. Just running improves your cardio condition and endurance levels but to prevent injury you need to strength train. The muscles you use to crochet need to be strengthened to prevent injury down the road.

My preferred way to gain strength is through yoga. Many people think of yoga as more of a stretching activity, but upper body strengthening is a key component. I regularly practice gentle yoga through the YouTube series Yoga with Adriene. There are a few poses that do cause pain in my elbows and wrists so I adapt them or skip them altogether. For the most part it has been the easiest way for me to gain the strength I need and stretch tight muscles caused by crocheting.

Heal

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“Dry needling is also called trigger point dry needling or myofascial trigger point dry needling. It is done by acupuncturists, some chiropractors, medical doctors, and some physical therapists (PTs) to treat myofascial pain. The word “myofascial” is made up of the roots “myo” (which refers to muscle) and “fascia” (which refers to the tissue that connects muscle).

Muscles sometimes develop knotted areas called trigger points. These trigger points are highly sensitive and can be painful when touched. They are also often the cause of referred pain (or pain that affects another part of the body). Clinicians push thin solid needles through the skin into trigger points. The needles are used to stimulate the tissue, not to inject medication.” – Cleveland Clinic

Dry needling is not something I was particularly looking forward to. Thankfully I’m not afraid of needles, but they aren’t my favorite either! Dry needling was done during my physical therapy appointments and was one of the best things I did to help heal my tendonitis. The sessions were $30 each and were well worth every penny. The physical therapist explained that inflammation is not always a bad thing. By injecting the needles into specific trigger points she was causing controlled inflammation. She explained that bringing fresh blood into the area would help the healing process. I’m so glad that I didn’t let the fear of a little additional pain prevent me from doing this treatment. It did cause discomfort at times, especially when she would tap the bone with the needle. When she would pinpoint a particularly good area my muscles would spasm! She always got excited when that happened because it was a sign that she had gotten the right spot!

Wait

This is the absolute hardest part. I can be a very impatient person and want problems to be fixed yesterday. Tendonitis definitely taught me that healing takes time. Typically there are no easy fixes, especially if you wait a long time to deal with a problem. My current strategy is to prevent tendonitis from happening in the first place. I work really hard to rest, stretch, ice, and strengthen routinely so that I keep my joints healthy for years of healthy crocheting!

I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful! I would love to hear about some of your own tips for keeping your joints healthy for crocheting and knitting!