Friday, July 16, 2021

Book Review: Knitting Comfortably


As I mentioned in my recent post on reading, I got Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Handknitting by Carson Demers (via interlibrary loan [all the way from New Mexico!]), and though this isn't exactly a proper book review, I did want to share some of my thoughts on it (which I guess is a book review? I don't know; it's not going to be very organized, anyway).

The author is a physical therapist as well as a knitter, and thus brings a knitter's eye to ergonomics and presents information in a way that is very specifically helpful to knitters. Not that a non-knitter couldn't learn a lot about ergonomics from it, but there's something about mention of the specific issues and tools and techniques relating to knitting that brought it all home to me more.

By issues, I mean that he discusses the potentially problematic ways a knitter might be sitting while knitting, as well suggesting specific fixes with knitting in mind: not just "if you sit in this way, it can cause these problems," but "if you sit with your knitting pattern where the light falls on it, the glare can cause a problem, as well as your having to turn to look at it, which can hurt your neck in this way, but if you use a document holder, or just a binder clip and a binder, you can have it better positioned for both issues"*.

*These are not actual quotes, obviously.

By tools, I mean that he discusses different types of needles, and why one might work better for you than another, and how different needle materials will interact differently with different types of yarn and the effect that can have on the body, and how different styles of project bags can be good or bad for different situations.

By techniques, I mean that he goes through different ways of knitting, and what effect certain motions can have on the body over the long term, and suggests ways to tweak how you do things to minimize problems. He suggests certain exercises and stretches that can help keep the body working, using knitterly language: "Sit tall and imagine a piece of yarn tied to an imaginary button on the top front of your shirt. Imagine the yarn being pulled gently toward the ceiling, raising your chest and rib cage until your spine is erect."

The book has plenty of photographs and diagrams to illustrate what he's saying, and the writing style is comfortable and accessible. Ironically, the book itself is rather heavy! I felt several times that there was no way to read it without straining my hands or my neck. But it's well worth reading all the same.

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