Yes, that’s true – I used to crochet all the time. In fact, it was something I learned right after college and I crocheted all the time, pretty much right up until I had my kids. I taught friends how to crochet even, and they taught others as well.
I crochet in kind of an odd way. I tend to be left-handed in many areas, but when I took a crochet class, the teacher couldn’t figure out how to teach me lefty, so she suggested I learn right-handed. But I don’t hold the hook or move it in the ‘usual’ way. In fact, even though I hold the hook right-handed, I use my left hand to maneuver the yarn. It’s awkward – I never realized until I saw someone who crochets ‘normally’ just how slow my way is. But it works – or at least it used to.
Back then I crocheted a lot, mostly afghans. I made them for myself, for friends, for my mom, and I made one for my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift before my husband and I got married. When one of my closest friends got married, I crocheted a large table doily as a wedding gift and also made her a shawl to wear over her wedding dress since the wedding was in December. And my other close friend was pregnant at that same time with her first child – I made several baby afghans for her. For a while there, pretty much anyone who was having a baby got an afghan – and I made a couple when I was pregnant with my first baby too. One of those is still my daughter’s favorite ‘blankie’ that she insists on sleeping with every single night. I wish she’d picked something else to cling to though – this one is pretty much irreplaceable. It took me 6 months to crochet back before I had kids – since it’s all done in single crochet stitches. Nowadays it would be impossible for me to make something like that. Not just in terms of time either, unfortunately.
I first noticed the pain in my hand when I tried picking up a half-finished crochet project when my girls were small. So I put it down again, and didn’t try to crochet anything else for another few years. At that point, I won a beautiful baby blanket from a blog giveaway (right about the time I began blogging) – but it had a simple crocheted edging that was a ‘do it yourself’ kind of project. I finished the edging, but was in a lot of pain while doing so. It was about that time that I decided that maybe it was time to try something else instead – I remembered how much I liked working with yarn and creating things, but I thought perhaps knitting would be easier on my hand, so I re-taught myself how to knit, this time left-handed (I’d learned from my mom right-handed back when I was a kid, but it always felt awkward to me).
I haven’t tried crocheting since then, a little more than 3 years ago now. And knitting was pain-free at first – but over the past year I have noticed the same pain in my left hand now too. Mostly while purling – or on the socks I’m working on I really notice it when I’m trying to keep my stitches nice and tight to try to prevent laddering when switching between dpns. The pain is mostly in the fleshy part of my thumb – down near my wrist. It’s a cramping kind of feeling – not really like joint pain, but more like a tendon getting too tight or something. I asked my doctor about it earlier this year, but since it only was happening when I was knitting, she didn’t have any real ideas. But now, I’m starting to notice the pain when doing other things too – especially when trying to mix cookie dough the other day. My hands both cramped when the dough got stiff after adding the flower and I couldn’t grip the spoon well enough to stir it very well.
My mom tells me that arthritis in the hands runs in our family – but I am so hoping that’s not what this is. I’m also hoping that it won’t keep me from knitting – although I can’t knit for very long at a time because of the pain. That’s one reason why it takes me a little while to complete projects. I’ll go back to the doctor next year and see what I can find out. But no matter what, I’m planning to continue knitting – I’ve learned to enjoy it way too much. And maybe if I can find some answers, I can pick a crochet hook back up again too one of these days.