How the Cello Helped Me Crochet Painlessly

Before I dived into the wonderful world of yarn and crochet hooks I was a cellist — an injured one. Twenty years of playing, one surgery, and years of retraining made me hypersensitive to pain, especially pain caused by repetitive motion. When I started work at Interweave, I met many gifted crafters who invited me to join them. I excitedly picked up a hook, but then the pain I’d had surgery to eliminate returned.

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Even as a novice crocheter, I knew I had to be doing something wrong if my elbows were bugging me after only a few months of loving yarn. Modern cello posture is geared toward imitation of the body’s natural tendencies to prevent injury and create sustainable habits. I decided to see if I could apply the ergonomics of cello playing to crochet and see if it would help the pain. It did!

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First, I warmed up my body with a few stretches and then I tackled my posture. I mimicked the straight but relaxed sitting position I take with cello and leaned against the back of my seat. I let my shoulders relax and my arms move naturally in their sockets without raising the shoulders. My head stayed square and only slightly bowed to avoid cricks. My arms created natural angles: straight lines from shoulder to elbow and elbow to wrist. Most importantly, I incorporated frequent rest and stretching breaks that made a world of difference in my crochet experience. I also discovered a few crafters who rest their elbows on pillows while crocheting. I fell in love with this method because it keeps my elbows in place without muscle involvement or stress. Plus, it’s really, really comfortable!

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I hope these tips from my personal crochet adventures will help you on your way. However, if you are in serious pain, please go see a medical professional. Repetitive stress injuries are frequent in the world of crochet and yarn. My story was born of that, but it has a happy ending. I crochet painlessly now!

P.S If you’re interested in crocheting the hat I’m wearing, check out Brenda K. B. Anderson’s Zelda Cloche, originally found in Interweave Crochet Spring 2014.

—Lisa Espinosa

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