Weaving & Spinning Environment~
I spend a fair amount of time on forums and groups dedicated to spinning and the types of weaving I do. I’ve noticed the same questions come up several times in all of them. Where and how do you like to weave/spin? What do you do to prevent and/or heal health problems from posture and repetitive motion from weaving/spinning? I see these questions asked frequently on every board and group I’m a member of, and they’re asked in many different ways, but it’s the same basic question. I thought I would take a moment to give my answer. The short and quick answer is: I craft where ever I enjoy spending my time doing anything else. Since I’m a multi-tasker, I like to have other activities around me as well. As for preventing and helping health problems associated with my crafts – I take a practical approach. I adjust my technique and posture to my comfort and listen to my doctor.
Anything we do repetitively will eventually cause wear and strain on a body part, most likely a joint. Much of this is soft tissue and fixable, some even reversible. Taking frequent breaks gives us a chance to stretch, switch position, and use that body part for a different task. Our tendons sometimes begin to tighten and retract, it’s good to give them a gentle stretch. I like to gently pull my fingers and hand back toward my body. I put my arm out straight with my palm facing out (like motioning someone to stop), then I take my opposite hand and gently pull my fingers and hand back toward my body. The same can be done by placing my palm down flat on a surface and stepping forward giving my hand and fingers the same stretch. Posture is important, but so is comfort. I could craft in a straight back chair, with both feet flat on the floor like there’s a stick
stuck up my tied to my back, but I wouldn’t get any crafting done. I need to be comfortable, and sometimes that means sitting on the couch, or in a patio chair, or at my kitchen island. If I’m comfortable then I’ll notice when that comfort ends, and it’s time to re-position. Also, when I have other activities around me, like the TV, computer, deer grazing, or a pot on the stove, it gives me the opportunity to take a quick break.
My favorite places to spin and weave are my favorite places to do everything else. I love to sit on the deck behind my house to spin and weave. I can listen to the birds and squirrels, and watch the deer come by to graze. The small deck in front is nice in the morning. It’s shaded in the morning and a great place to have coffee and watch nature. I see more butterflies and dragonflies in one day than I can count. I have a kitchen island where I like to Inkle and Tablet weave. It’s connected to my mother’s living room, so I can have coffee with my mom and enjoy my weaving too. I like to do my knitting and crochet on the couch, as well as spinning and weaving. I can enjoy a program (especially one I’ve already seen) and hear when I get new email. It gives me a moment to pick my head up and not have it down for long periods. I love to take my weaving to my local weaving group. I get a chance to catch up with my peers, get some weaving done and compare notes. I have a craft room, but I prefer not being sequestered. I use my room to house the plethora of equipment and supplies. I also work in the craft room for things that don’t transport well. I sew in my craft room, and keep my jewelry bench there. Even my large Navajo loom is in my living room.
I deal with injuries I already have by following my doctor’s advice. Since I have a long history of repetitive motion injury in my wrists, I wear a wrist brace to bed when I feel trouble starting. I have issues with the skin on my hands as well, and keep a good lotion on them all the time. I find some lotions to be especially good while I’m actually crafting like Udder Cream and unscented Lubriderm and Cetaphil. When that’s not enough, I use a prescription with white cotton gloves overnight, but I try to avoid that. Safety first goes a long way also. Walking with the scissors correctly, never cutting towards myself, and using safety features like sheaths, protective covers, and rotary cutter safeties keep me from doing more damage than I do. Magnification helps prevent eyestrain, and makes small tasks safer. Some things are unavoidable; spinning a usable amount of yarn for a project will make my fingers ache. Crochet and knitting will cause my fingers to go numb and Navajo weaving will make my back ache. Stretching, breaks and braces go a long way, but sometimes we have to factor in the changes to our bodies as part of the cost of our passions.