Our most important tools: and top tips to look after them

As knitters we are often asked what our favourite tools and notions are and we will happily discuss the merits of wooden needles vs metal ones. We rarely give much thought to our most important tools of all though - our hands.

I experienced a mild bout of RSI a few years ago after trying to take part in a challenge to knit 26 pairs of socks in a year. I got to June if memory serves but all that sock knitting took its toll and I had to take a short break from knitting altogether. That experience was so unpleasant, and the thought of not being able to knit was so uncomfortable (read: horrific) that I vowed to take better care of my most important tools in the future.

1. I always try to give myself a weekly manicure. If my nails and hands look good I'm more inclined to treat them better. I try to wear gloves whilst washing up and doing the housework and have little pots of handcream dotted around the house and in my project bags. I particularly like the solid lotion bars, such as the Love + leche ones pictured above, for my knitting bag as there is no risk of the dreaded lotion explosion.

2. Some knitting friends on Instagram recently shared a tip with me for smoothing rough skin when working with silk yarns - which will catch on every tiny flaw. Mix a small amount of olive oil with sugar or salt and use to massage into your hands. Rinse under hot water and dry.

3. Frequent breaks. I take a tip from the Knitmore Girls and take a short break in my knitting every 15 minutes. Even if it is just to set down the needles, flex my fingers and move my gaze to somewhere in the middle distance (my eyes also have a habit of complaining if I focus too long in one spot). I do this even when power knitting to meet a deadline but I do find it hard to remember sometimes so I set a reminder on my phone.

4. Stretches. I found this website a few years ago and they have a great series of hand exercises specifically for knitters which I try to do as often as I can. 

I hope these tips help you to take care of your mitts and if you have any top tips that work for you do please let me know, I'd love to hear them.

If you need a bit of motivation you could always check out the #nailsandknitting hashtag on Instagram where people (myself included) have fun matching their nails to their yarn. If you are going to be taking a photograph of your hands that's always a good incentive to slap a bit of handcream on.