As knitters, we plan our projects with such care and precision, from choosing the correct yarn to using the correct size knitting needle. We know the importance of knitting a gauge first so that we cast on the right amount of stitches for the project to get the perfect fit and size. We should care for our best tools-our hands-in the same way!
Have you ever concentrated on your hands and their movements as you knit? The movements of our hands can influence the physical body. Pay attention to your neck, shoulders, and wrists before and after knitting, and you will gain a new level of awareness of your body.
We can form Mudras by holding the hands and fingers in specific formations. Mudras have been explored over thousands of years in many different cultures. The word means 'seal': to seal together, just like a knitting stitch. The movements of our hands while knitting are similar to Mudras or gestures of expression, such as the movement of the fingers casting on stitches.
Perhaps unaware, you have been practicing Mudras with your hands: shaking hands, waving with your hand, bringing your hands to your heart when you say something heartfelt, or even what you do after you say that common expression, "Let me give you a hand.” Prayer hands are among one of the most recognized mudras. Putting palms together in front of the chest is often a sign of devotion. For a sense of stillness and grounding, try placing the thumb inside the palm and closing the other four fingers over the thumb, then place the hands palms down on your lap.
We also use our hands to express ourselves. For example, we put a hand up to set a boundary, or we may wave to someone to get them to come into the room. The fingers offer communication as well: we can give someone a thumbs up, put up the pointer finger to say 'one minute', wave the pointer finger back and forth to say ‘no,’ or bring the pointer and thumb together to say 'okay.'
I am intrigued by the hands as an expression of the art of knitting. I began to practice gentle hand stretches including extending the arm and shoulders after a long knitting session. Similar to
taking a walk after sitting, stretching the hands helps to relieve stiffness or discomfort. I've found these few hand movements before and after knitting very beneficial:
(1) Interlacing the hands and gently moving the wrist to soothe the joints
(2) Interlacing the fingers and extending the arms up over the head
(3) Wrapping the arms around your body as if giving yourself a hug and tuck the chin slowly, then unwrap and do the other side
(4) Stretch the wrist by holding your hand out in front with the palm facing away with elbow bent, keeping the shoulder relaxed, gently place the other bring the hand toward you
It's important to take short breaks, to stretch and to listen to your body. Along with knitting needles and yarn, our bodies are also tools, especially the hands. Careful stretching before and after knitting will relieve stiffness, so we can continue to do what we love every day.
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