Yarn work, such as knitting and crocheting, can be a fun and relaxing hobby even if you have arthritis. Perhaps you've thought that you could never pick up that hobby because you experience stiffness in your hands or wrists. However, avoiding it or giving it up is unnecessary. You can still continue to work with yarn just like someone without arthritis, but you have to do certain things differently. Activities such as these can be beneficial for your arthritis, but without taking precautions, they could also make it worse.
Warm your hands before working:
Try warming up your hands before starting on your project. Hold them under warm water or try various stretches and exercises. Some people have had success finding gloves which keep their hands warm and dexterous while working. Ask your doctor about any special exercises you can do to limber up your hands. While you're working, don't let your hands tense up, and take a break to stretch your fingers periodically.
Change your tools:
You may need to change your tools and use needles or hooks made of materials other than metal. Try a lighter-weight tool made of bamboo, plastic, or a light wood such as birch, which are more giving and less cold to the touch. Bamboo needles also tend to have a smoother surface that makes it easier to slip through the yarn. It's best to stick with yarn made of wool or that has some percentage of wool, as it tends to stretch more easily and is less difficult to handle.
Know your limits:
Even though you are excited about a new project and can't wait to get it finished, you still need to rest, especially when you have arthritis. Doing too much at one time can actually make it worse, and, in the end, you may have to give up your hobby. When you choose a project, make sure the size and complexity is within your limits. Some large projects can get heavy, and some stitches require repeated complex stitches which may make your hands sore and tired.
Knitting and other types of yarn work can work to your advantage if you have arthritis. It helps keep your fingers nimble and functioning better. However, do too much or fail to prepare to work, and you can make things worse. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to make working with your hands easier or find ways to reduce swelling and pain. That way you can continue knitting for a lifetime. Contact a doctor to learn more about your arthritis treatment options.