Favorite pastimes like knitting and crocheting turn ugly for those who suffer from tendinitis. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Favorite pastimes like knitting and crocheting turn ugly for those who suffer from tendinitis. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Put down those needles! Struggles of a recovering yarn addict

She gave up knitting and crocheting 13 years ago due to tendinitis and carpel tunnel. It hurts.

When my daughter asked me for knitting lessons, I immediately said: “Yes.”

“Don’t do it,” said my husband. “You know what happens when you knit.”

“I’ll be fine.” I opened the door to the garage and marched into darkness. After I flicked on the light, I rummaged around storage boxes and uncovered three skeins of yarn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the knitting needles. I must have donated them when I went cold turkey. But I did find a crochet hook.

I raced out of the garage and upstairs to my daughter’s room.

“Let’s start with crochet,” I told my fourth grader. “That’s what I learned first.” I pointed out the obvious advantages, one hook instead of two needles, and one stitch instead of knit and purl. “Of course, crocheting doesn’t have to be boring,” I said, pushing up my reading glasses. “There’s double crochet and the granny stitch, chevrons and tatting.” My heart was beginning to race. “But you can single crochet both directions and it’s really easy.”

“Great.” My daughter reached for the yarn. “I want to make a scarf.”

“Not so fast.” I yanked the skein away. “Let me start the first two rows for you. That’ll make it easier.”

“Put down the yarn!” My husband called from downstairs. “I beg you.”

“Don’t listen to him.” I closed the door, sat down on the carpet under the light and tugged at the skein. “Worsted weight yarn. So basic, and yet so versatile.” My fingers wrapped around the steel hook and I chain-stitched the foundation.

It’d been 13 years, but my hands knew exactly what to do. Endorphins flooded my bloodstream as my mind zoned out into the rhythmic hook and release of the yarn. My fingers flashed, the yarn twisted off the hook and one row turned into two.

My daughter raised her eyebrows. “Wow, Mom, you’re really good at that.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” I said without one ounce of humility, “I’m an expert.”

The past stretched behind me like an afghan trailing down the stairs. My 20s were full of blankets, sweaters, lace and scarfs. My 30s were a wasteland of nothing. Now, here I was at 40, hook in hand, feeling the buzz of relaxation mixed with creativity.

“Is it my turn yet?” my daughter asked.

“One more row.” I poked and prodded the yarn, explaining each move as I went. “Poke. Hook. Pull it through. Release. It’s easy-peasy,” I said — but it wasn’t. My right hand cramped. Pain shot up my arm like a rocket. My wrist ached and then went numb.

Those old friends of mine, Tendinitis and Carpal Tunnel, had shown up for old-times’ sake.

“Here.” I thrust the yarn into my 9-year-old’s hands. “Your turn.”

“This is really hard,” she said a few minutes later. “Can you show me again?”

“Sure.” I ignored my throbbing elbow and reached for the hook. Now my other arm was hurting, too, just like my husband had predicted. “On second thought,” I said putting down the yarn with a huge sigh, “maybe this is a job for Grandma.”

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.

Talk to us

More in Life

Photos by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times 

The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House will open to public visitors Memorial Day weekend.
A landmark steeped in 19th century history reopens on Whidbey

Beginning May 28, you can venture inside one of the state’s oldest buildings: The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House, which dates from the 1850s.

Caption: Incorporating frozen vegetables into your menu plan is a fast and cost-effective way to save money on rising food costs.
The secrets of cheap meals: frozen veggies and slow cookers

They not only stretch your food budget, but also timesaving godsends for busy parents. Here are three recipes to try.

Cinderella_Red.jpg: Red Riding Hood (Katelynn Carlson) gets advice from Cinderella (Grace Helmcke) in Red Curtain’s production of Into the Woods, running May 20-June 5 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave. in Marysville.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Marysville troupe stages a Stephen Sondheim musical masterpiece. Jazz, featuring the sons of legend Dave Brubeck, takes over Edmonds. And there’s this music festival in downtown Everett …

Navigating the rough, often scary seas of a hospital stay

After helping a friend who underwent major surgery, Paul Schoenfeld reflects on ways to cope for patients and their loved ones.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

I canceled my flight to Frankfurt, but now I can’t use my credit

Melissa Crespo receives a $2,060 ticket credit when she cancels her flights to Frankfurt, Germany. But now her online agency has told her she can only use 25% of the credit at a time. Can it do that?

Lonicera ciliosa, commonly called orange honeysuckle or western trumpet vine. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: orange honeysuckle

Its orange trumpets announce spring is here, and hummingbirds are irresistibly drawn to it.

Home & garden happenings in Snohomish County

The Mill Creek Garden Tour will return this summer after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.

Photo Caption: Would you believe a zipper sold for $18,450 at Morphy Auctions? What about a diamond necklace that looks and works like a zipper?
X-Y-Z spells ‘big money’ with this high-fashion zipper

It’s actually a necklace, but the zipper function works. Someone paid nearly $18,500 for it at a recent auction.

Most Read