If your hands hurt when you stitch, it could be for many reasons. This can be a problem for all of us, but usually gets worse as we get older. Today I’m going to look at some fixes that might help you with this problem.
Thread and Needle Mis-match
If you thread is too thick for the canvas or of your needle is too small for the thread, you might start getting sore hands, I know I do. That’s because you are having to work harder to get the thread through the canvas. You’re unconsciously tensing your hand to give you better control. That makes you hands hurt. I know that for me, this is often my first clue that there is a mis-match.
Your thread should go comfortably through the canvas holes without distorting the canvas. Even if your shop or teacher says this is the “right” size of thread to use, if your hands hurt, the thread is too large. Everyone stitches with different tension, so trust your body and consider all thread sizes as “serving suggestions only” until you actually stitch with that combination of thread and canvas and try a larger needle.
To solve this, first try a larger needle, this can open the canvas holes enough for the thread to go through. If you hands still hurt. try switching to fewer strands or a smaller size of thread.
Is the Mesh Size Too Small?
This problem usually shows up in different ways, but stitching on small mesh can cause you to tense up and will make your hands hurt, try using larger mesh. I’m seeing more and more designs that come on both 13 and 18 mesh or that are only made on 18 mesh.
Switching to a larger mesh may make both your hands and eyes happier.
Stitching in Hand
If you stitch in hand or hold your frame in your hand, you may get soreness and cramping in the hand holding the canvas. I can’t stitch in hand any more because of this.
If you stitch in hand, consider stitching with your needlepoint stretched on a frame. Your hand won’t need to grip the frame as tightly. If you use mini stretcher bars, think about switching to standards or ever-tites, the thicker bars are easier to grip.
Your posture can make a difference here as well. Be sure you are sitting relatively straight and not slouching.
No matter the kind of frame you use, consider adding a stand of some kind to hold your stretched canvas. You will not have to be holding the frame and can either stitch two-handed or allow your non-dominant hand to rest.
Are You Taking Breaks?
Sometimes breaks and stretches help this problem because your hands get sore from repeating the same motion. Because this is a huge problem for knitters, look for knitter’s hand stretches in Internet searches.
Are You Cold?
It sounds silly but many folks suffer in the winter from cold hands or feet. If that’s your problem try putting a blanket on your lap, wearing slippers or socks or wearing fingerless gloves. That’s if you can’t easily turn up the heat.
Might Arthritis Be the Problem?
Arthritis can spoil many if our favorite activities, including stitching. If you suspect this is your problem or if you have tried the other solutions and you still have hurting hands, this is the next step.
There are several companies that make stitcher’s gloves for arthritis, including Handeze and the Crafter’s Comfort Glove. These gloves are fingerless so you can still feel the needle and work by compression. The compression helps warm the hands and that relieves your arthritis.
I haven’t used them, so I can’t make specific recommendations, but these and other brands can be found in all kinds of shops.
Stitching should be a joy not a pain. Try these tips and tools to relive your pain and make stitching fun again.