Monday, February 18, 2013

Knitter’s Elbow and Birthday Yarn

It’s become kind of iconic in our household: Mama sitting on the couch, knitting. Sometimes when I put my three year old to bed, she tells me that I need to go sit on the couch, in my regular spot, and KNIT.  It’s like she feels safe knowing that I will be there, with my needles clicking, if she needs anything. So, knitting is kind of important in our house.  Which is why this next part is so hard for me to talk about.  But I’ve decided to tell you the truth...

I have... *sigh*...  Knitter’s Elbow. Sometimes called (ok, always called) Golfer’s Elbow, which is basically tendonitis which causes pain on the inside of the elbow.  (Tennis Elbow hurts on the outside.) It’s really, really crummy, because it means no knitting for me. They might also call it Carrying a Baby Elbow because that’s another thing that makes it worse.  I’ve tested it.

This pain has been nagging me for awhile, and now it has become unbearable.  If you found this blog because you googled “Knitter’s Elbow,” here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.  (I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.  No, not really... I’m not a real doctor or even a fake doctor. My comments are experiential only - take it for what it’s worth.)

1. Tendonitis is sharp pain, found on one localized area.  If your forearms are generally fatigued, that’s great news!  It’s not tendonitis. I saw several recommendations on websites for ways to massage your tired arms.  Do it GENTLY.  I think I did it too hard and made it worse.  Don’t do that.

2. Tendonitis gets worse if you keep knitting.  Trust me, I know how hard it is, but you have to REST.  Once they feel better, ease back in.  Don’t try to knit that baby blanket all in one night if you’re recovering.  REST.

3. Use ice and ibuprofen as needed.  It makes it feel better and probably reduces inflammation.

4. Save your arms: Carry the baby in a carrier. Tell the kids you’d love to watch them color, but can’t grip a crayon until your arm heals.  And watch how you sleep.  If you’re sleeping with your arm bent, then quit it.  Keep your arms straight or just slightly bent when you sleep. How sad would it be to reduce your knitting ability while you’re SLEEPING?!

5. Finally, (and this seems like common sense, but I haven’t tested it, yet) wear a brace to relieve fatigue on those poor tendons.  I just ordered one and will keep you posted on how it works for me.

So, for now I keep walking by my stash and feeling the yarn... holding it up and looking at it in the light and just generally admiring it.  And then I sit down and cry.  Which is a little ridiculous because not being able to knit isn’t like having a terminally ill child or something.  Some people have real problems.  But it’s still kind of a bummer.  

Anyway, on a lighter note, I have a birthday this month.  I’m turning 35.  “Halfway to 70!” as my husband likes to say. And I love that people give me yarn for my birthday...  Well, they give me money, which I spend on yarn (obviously) and gift certificates to yarn stores. Now I have a really ridiculous amount of yarn.  Enough for quite a few projects. This wonderful pile of goodness arrived in the mail yesterday.  How about that Madelinetosh Merino Light?  So beautiful... I would like to make about 100 Cream and Sugar Cowls.  Someday... I hope. 

Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light: Pea Soup Mix colorway

Madelinetosh Merino Light: Oak colorway

Madelinetosh Merino Light: Charcoal colorway


  1. Oh no! That's terrible you can't knit for a while. How painful both for your arm and heart. I hope you heal quickly so that you might be able to get in a row or two very soon.

  2. Ouch! I hope your recovery is speedy & without a hitch. Ultra Alpaca ymmmies...hate the name but love the colors of Pea Soup mix & Peat mix. Haven't tried any Madelinetosh as yet. I got a brand new Knit Picks catalog in yesterday's mail; catalogs are very good for filling time when you'd rather be knitting (but can't yet, bummer!), just be sure to lay it down on a table or desk while reading it. I've had issues with my wrists, from holding large novels as I read -- I know better now!

  3. I've only just seen this post, and I would love to know how your elbow pain has gone? If it was a brace that helped, can you say what kind of brace it was? Cheers.