Knitting Callus

Either I'm knitting too much, or there is something wrong with my needles!

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Bill's picture

do you know you can buy little stick on dots? They're used like a thimble for sewing. Amazon has them, and many sewing stores.

CLABBERS's picture

I had that issue when I first started knitting when I used to push the left needle through the stitches with my right finger. I found a way to slide the yarn off without pushing the needle, but not always. I do find that my fingers get tired and a bit tender if I am doing difficult stitches. I tend to hold the needles too tightly when I am stressed when trying to get tiny finger yarn stitches just right. I have to make a point to remember to not hold the needles that tightly. I remember trying to knit with a bandage on my finger once. That wasn't a good fit, so I just put down the knitting for a few days and tended my blister.

Of course, a couple glasses of wine while knitting helps relax hands too...and it tastes good too!

Safe knitting!

kiwiknitter's picture

I get this when I knit too tightly and I can't slip the stitches easily. Fortunately, I'm not usually a tight knitter (unless unduly stressed!) but a loose knitter so I don't have this problem.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Tallguy's picture

A callus (or callosity) is a toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation. Rubbing that is too frequent or forceful will cause blisters rather than allow calluses to form. Since repeated contact is required, calluses are most often found on feet because of frequent walking. Calluses are generally not harmful, but may sometimes lead to other problems, such as skin ulceration or infection.

Normally, a callus will form on any part of the skin exposed to friction over a long period of time. For example, people often develop calluses on the middle finger of their dominant hand due to writing with a pen or pencil. I have a permanent bump on my middle finger from a time that I did a lot of pen writing about 45 years ago! Another cause is from playing string instruments like the guitar or the violin; calluses will develop on the four fingers of the hand used in holding the strings down to the fingerboard, and sometimes on the fingers of the hand used for pizzicato or strumming.

Activities that are notorious for causing calluses include (but are not limited to) construction work, many sports, wood carving, playing musical instruments, use of a chef's knife, Trikke carving, rock climbing, hiking, martial arts, weight training, BMXing, dancing (especially ballet), chopping wood, monkey bars and wearing high heels. Now we can add knitting! Tenpin bowlers will often develop calluses on their thumbs and occasionally their middle fingers from frequent bowling. Although often found on the foot (where the most pressure and friction are applied), calluses can occur anywhere on the body as a reaction to moderate, constant "grinding" pressure. It is the natural reaction of the palmar or plantar skin. Too much friction occurring too fast for the skin to develop a protective callus will cause a blister or abrasion instead.

Corns and calluses are easier to prevent than to treat. When it is not desirable to form a callus, minimizing rubbing and pressure will prevent callus formation. Footwear should be properly fitted, gloves may be worn, and protective pads, rings or skin dressings may be used. You can find finger cots made of many materials. [see my crocheted one below -- how do I add photos??] People with poor circulation or sensation should check their skin often for signs of rubbing and irritation so they can minimize any damage.

Calluses and corns may go away by themselves eventually, once the irritation is consistently avoided. They may also be dissolved with keratolytic agents containing salicylic acid, sanded down with a pumice stone or filed down with a callus shaver, or pared down by a professional such as a podiatrist or a foot health practitioner.

I found a very simple solution that works for me: I sewed a very basic finger sleeve from a smooth, stretchy, spandex-blend fabric. This fabric doesn’t fray, so all I needed was one row of stitching to turn a small rectangle of fabric into a tube that fits tightly over my finger. It’s not pretty, but it works!

When I wear it, my yarn runs smoothly over the fabric and it doesn’t affect my knitting tension. The tube did stretch a bit after a few days of hard use and became too loose to be effective, but I just stitched another seam slightly further in and it hasn’t stretched further since. The best part is it only takes a tiny scrap of a smooth stretch fabric, and you can customise it to exactly fit whichever part of your finger gets rubbed or irritated by your yarn. I keep the seam on the outside so it doesn’t dig into my finger.

If you’d like to try making a finger sleeve, look for a smooth fabric with spandex/lycra so it’s nice and stretchy. Or, if you don’t want to spend money when you only need a tiny scrap of fabric, I bet a piece snipped from an old swimsuit would work perfectly…