Earlier this week on one of my discussion groups, someone asked about what kinds of aids there were for stitchers who had suffered a stroke and thereby lost use of one hand.
This is a subject close to my heart, because my initial MS attack was misdiagnosed as a stroke for over five years until I had a second ms attack. Many of the problems I’ve had are similar to those people with strokes have.
Obviously the most useful tool here is a stand. which holds your needlework firmly in place. There are many kinds of stands from ones which sit on the floor, to ones which sit on your lap. They are big investments, which improve anyone’s stitching, so test out some and think about how and where you stitch before buying.
Scissors can be a real problem, but Fiskars makes a pair of shears with short blades which you squeeze to cut. They have nice padded handles too. These are great and could be used to cut thread ends. They may have a smaller size out by now, but if people need smaller scissors, they should look for Thread Snips, which also work by squeezing.
There also may be some problem threading needles. I haven’t tried them but Clover makes an automatic needle threader. I think you load up with needles and put the thread in a press a button. I read that it worked with all kinds of needles.
Lights, especially florescent, are a problem because of flickering. You may find LED bulbs better than something like Ott Lights. Good light may help a lot.
Tacks for mounting canvas are also a problem (it’s that fine motor control thing). Get big head tacks or brass stitcher’s tacks. The best large tacks I’ve found are quilter’s tacks, they are stronger (and cheaper)than other large tacks. To get the tacks out, try a lever-style staple remover. Then you don’t have to work as hard or have as much strength to get the tacks out. Buy quilter’s tacks at quilt shops and fabric stores and brass needlework tacks at your LNS. Store them in a tin can or box.
I also find that the more I can do in advance, the easier stitching is, so I do things like cut my skeins of thread as soon as I open the package, put things onto thread tags so I don’t lose labels, mark my stretcher bars with the sizes big enough so I can read them, and buy project bags, lots of them, so each current project is in its own bag. I also buy lots and lots of needles and keep them in used containers, because I can drop three in one evening of stitching.
Even with all this, there are times I can’t stitch because of weakness, when this happens I get out some old needlepoint books and look at the projects and dream of future things to stitch. When my hands start to hurt, or the stitches start to bee too hard, I always take a break for awhile, because continuing makes it worse. I stitch much more slowly than I used to.
The hardest thing, I think, of having a stroke is learning how to go easy and slowly. It can be hard and depending on your customer’s attitudes you might even want to say (and it’s true) that these tools will help anyone stitch more easily.