This post has been a long time in the making, but here we go. Since my business, Hybrid Rose Jewelry, is about to turn two years old, I thought it would be fitting to talk about the battle between RA and crafting.
Three years ago, I was sitting around having a nice little pity party for myself. RA seemed to be taking so much away from me. I’d always been the Martha Stewart type and the thought of not being able to spend my free time making stuff was horrifying. Out of this fear grew an impulse to learn every single crafty thing on the planet. Like, to the point of becoming OCD about it. If A.C. Moore and Michael’s had stocks, I could’ve been rich. Might as well use it before I lose it, right?
In some ways, I think crafting is what saved my not-so-flexible hands. Doctors often tell us RA patients to move around as much as possible to keep our joints from getting stiff. And while I love to dance around the house or go for walks when it’s possible, I hate doing hand exercises.
Alright, alright, I hear what you’re saying. Alyssa, you’re kidding me, right? My RA has progressed so much that I can’t even pick up a drinking glass or chop an onion, and you want me to work with tiny little beads and stuff?!
I totally get it. My first jewelry project was awkward. I couldn’t pick up the microscopic-sized seed beads. There was a mess on the floor from where I dropped most of them. It was horrific and hilarious at the same time. I kept trying new things until I found what worked for me.
So, these are some of the things I can still do despite having stiff old lady hands:
Knit/Crochet. My mother swears that knitting is easier on her arthritic hands than crocheting, so that’s
what she sticks with. I prefer crochet and have no problems whatsoever. I tried using the ergonomic-crochet-handle-attachment-thingies that they sell in craft stores to help people who have issues gripping the skinny hook, but I found that they put more pressure on my hands than just trying to grip the hook itself. Know your limits. If my hands begin to hurt after 30 minutes, I stop. Walk away, try again later.
Jewelry Making. I prefer working with chains, large beads, and large components, which are all easy to grip. I can still work with seed beads on occasion, so long as I use beading needles and a bead spinner to help me pick them up. Invest in a good set of tools. They make great pliers that help with grip.
Floral Arranging. Again, it’s all about the tools.
Scrap booking/Paper Arts. You may have a hard time using paper punches if you’re sitting down. Try bending over the puncher and pushing down with both hands to give you more leverage.
What crafty things do you still do, even with RA?
*All photos are my own.*