Head and Shoulders, Knees and…Elbows? Searching for ergonomic solutions in small writing spaces

Dear Vi,

I hate to be a complainer, but I just have to tell you:

Too much hand quilting, knitting, typing, and gripping heavy weights at the gym have given me tennis elbow in both arms and caused the arthritis in my hands to flare up.

It’s my own fault. I let it go too far. I let it get away from me. I let it get to the point where it hurts to even pick up a cup of tea.

And that’s not all. Poor ergonomics in my sewing and writing life are affecting my shoulders, neck and back, which (not surprisingly) has worked it’s way down into the knees.

‘It hurts when I cackle!’

Because I’m a writer, I’m often at my laptop for several hours a day. If I want to continue, it’s imperative that I address the ergonomics problem.

Fortunately, I know what I have to do to fix it.

Yesterday I went to Staples and bought myself a properly adjustable office chair. My lower half notices the improved sitting situation already, but my shoulders are still complaining because the keyboard is too high.

In a perfect world, I’d buy a properly adjustable computer desk. But the reality is, we all have to work with what we’ve got. And what I’ve got is pretty small. My neighbour’s chicken coop is bigger!

Whatever modifications I make to my writing space cannot infringe on the rest of my very small house, and they also have to fall within my fixed-income budget.

Installing a sliding, adjustable keyboard tray (and new keyboard) under my sewing table and using my laptop like a desk computer may be the best solution.

The laptop can easily share real estate with the sewing machine. Both are lightweight & portable, and can easily be unplugged and set it aside to make room for the other. Mr. C will have the final say on whether or not the sewing table can be modified.

It may take a month or more, but getting back to my home yoga practice, doing physio & massage therapy for the elbows, and making these ergonomic fixes will hopefully take care of the worst of the problems.

Have you ever suffered repetitive strain injuries or dealt with ergonomic issues when sitting for long periods at the keyboard or sewing machine? Has knitting or hand quilting ever given you tennis elbow?

Do tell!

Crow (raven) Pose

Dear Vi

I miss the ravens of the Yukon. I miss their burbling and clicking and cawing and the thousands of different sounds they make. I miss them being ever present and watchfully perched on the lamp posts, heads tilted. I miss the way they fluff their feather up so they look like they’re wearing furry black parkas in the winter 

If I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be of a raven. If I ever master this yoga pose, perhaps I will.

I don’t know why, but I just know that in this pose I will know myself to be physically strong. That hovering in crow pose, I will be as strong as I will ever need to be.

Partly it’s because this pose requires strength from the entire body: tremendous core strength and the shoulder & arm strength that I have been lacking. And mental strength, too, to overcome the fear of falling forward and doing a face plant on the floor.

Why I love yoga

Dear Vi,

I admit it…yoga doesn’t meet the usual definition of working out. We aren’t racing our bicycles down the highway or dancing in a zumba class or running on a treadmill in a gym. We’re in our bare feet, doing what looks, to the uninitiated, like a lot of stretching. We’re sweating lightly instead of moping it off our faces with a towel. We’re slightly out of breath instead of gasping for air. When our practice is over, we lay down on the floor like we’re all taking naps together in kindergarten. We’re smiling and looking peaceful and trusting. We’re breathing with the effort, softening, looking inward, setting intention and releasing what doesn’t serve us.

 I practice yoga for a lot of reasons. One of the main reasons is that I want to be strong. And happily, what I’ve have found since I’ve been practicing  two to three times each week is that it’s working. I’ve been getting stronger. Physically stronger. Poses are easier to get into. I can stay in them longer. I can bend into them deeper.

Let me say it right out: Yoga builds physical strength.

Because we move through the poses using our own body weight, the muscles develop in a natural way … following the natural movements of the body.

This feels so much more natural to me than going to the gym and lifting weights, listening to the clank and clatter of the metal disks and the loud pumping music.

What I enjoy about building strength through yoga is that my brain feels just as refreshed as my body does when I’m finished.

I always feel as though the day has slowed down and I’ve slipped those 30 or 60 minutes into it, like a love letter into the envelope of my day. โ™ฅ

Knitting and Novel Writing… and Lord of the Dance for the letter L

Dear Vi,

So, you remember a couple of days ago when I told you about the green sweater I wanted to knit? I’m so glad I decided to switch patterns. Somehow the way this sweater pattern is written reminds me of how I’m writing my novel.

What?

On sweaters I’ve knit in the past, you start at one end and you knit until you’re finished, hopefully at the other end. A lot of writers write this way, as well. They cast on with the first chapter, knit up the body of the work, throw in a few interesting twists and turns (maybe a cable stitch or two,) then cast off with a nice, tidy ending. Hopefully, everybody lives happily ever after and there are no loose ends.

Well, in the Grace Cardigan that I’m knitting, the first thing you do is knit up a small piece, add some shaping, and then set it aside for a bit while you work on something else. While it’s resting in the knitting basket, you cast on another little bit, only this time using a  technique called the “provisional cast on.” This leaves the cast-on edge “live” so that you can go back later, pick up those stitches and knit in the other direction.

That’s exactly the way I’ve been writing my first novel, Holding Space. I wrote a bit on the beginning, then set it aside and spent some time in the middle. Then I went back and worked on the beginning again. At some point, I picked up those stitches that I left “live” and knit/wrote them going in the other direction, until eventually the two halves met up. Then I worked on the ending.

Now I’m working on the polishing. That would be the knitting equivalent of burying the loose threads, sewing up the seams and doing the final blocking.

Gee, I feel very writerly for noticing that! (is writerly a word? Oh, who cares!)

LLord of the Dance

I chose this pose for the letter L today simply because I love the name!

Also because it’s a balance pose and I love balance poses. Maybe because I’m pretty good at them.

…although some days I feel like the little sister in this video… (It’s only 27 seconds long and honestly…ya gotta watch it! I dare you not to laugh!)

If you need to, use a chair or the wall to help you with your balance.

…or a horse, if you’ve got one handy…

God, this is fun! Balance poses are all great for working the core!

http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/lord-of-the-dance-pose/
http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/lord-of-the-dance-pose/

 

x

Indy sewing patterns…and King Cobra for the letter K

I’ve been spending my allowance on sewing patterns this last month, and they’ve been arriving like hotcakes! Is there anything better than getting presents in the mail? Not much, let me tell ya!

Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files
Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files

 

These pajamas are going to be so awesomeย  –ย  I can’t wait to make a set or three. This is an intermediate level pattern, so will stretch my skills with collars, cuffs, button bands and piping.

Closet Case Files is located in Montreal. The Carolyn pajama pattern has gotten great reviews.

 

 

I really do want to learn to make my own clothes. To that end, I’ve purchased a couple of Craftsy sewing classes. Bonus: they come with patterns!

vogue 8793
vogue 8793

Vogue 8793 is by designer Katherine Tilton.

…and Vogue 9057 is by her sister, designer Marcy Tilton.

The Tilton sisters co-teach the class. I’ll do a review of the class once I’ve done it.

Both will be great additions to my winter wardrobe.

Funky!

vogue 9057
vogue 9057

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s mail brought a parcel from Collette Patterns, in Portland, Oregon.

The Rooibos Dress – fabulous design details:

cp1006-rooibos-06-large-9547fae8f1b92c230f476549b6121597ff771a00ae600016224aa3427498dbd8cp1006-rooibos-03-large-5644b68bfd33110eec439a72ff66940befe79af772cae7e5b2b9d672b2d586e8

The Lily Dress – more fabulous design details:

cp1020-lily-06-large-05520e8c7871c5f568f0b2b99524dc07a1f855f058fc66657da6892313ecb342cp1020-lily-03-large-3fc4efb27f4fa8b86dd996672d984ae2d231c56bc1c6af81b3929736cbfd2f3e

The Laurel Dress – classic shift with lots of options:

cp1025-laurel-12-large-818764633d8862d1b4da235e826b82d41eb9dd463e3a1806080ef1627cb793cbcp1025-laurel-01-large-7d8eb2c14b5758fe0e40d7e6a149286ca32dd7c10e92c37e6cd199e58d264988

The Crepe Dress – a wrap dress that ties in the back:

cp1013-crepe-08-thumb-86754aafe3be4c73f403ee95e4a13e83135f6f29756f2fbf8f535032206f756acp1013-crepe-06-large-b74c45a22b8d8d004196276e54b496808d9e70c6f87a9631cba90e50189667b0

That should keep me going for a good long while, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

…and now for the letter K in the April A-Z Blogger’s challenge:

KKing Cobra

This is the advanced version of the Cobra pose: King Cobra.

A lovely pose that I am content to admire from afar. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

tribesports.com
tribesports.com

 

Mending…and Janusirasana for the Letter J

Hello!

Today’s letter is a very short one. Also kind of boring, actually. Sorry.

Here goes: the other day Mr. C asked me to mend his jeans.

sew1

I knew that my little Janome 2030 wouldn’t have enough jam to sew over the heavy denim seams that the repair required, so I pulled out my antique Singer hand crank machine.

sew2

This baby will sew through anything! And in half the time that fussing with the electric variety would have taken! Who would have thought doing the mending could be so much fun?

sew3

 

See me turning the handle? ๐Ÿ™‚

And finally, in keeping with the A-Z Blogging Challenge, I present to you the only yoga pose I was able to find that begins with the letter J:

J

Janu Sirsana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend)

This is a pose that you see in all types of athletic activities, from runners to dancers. And yogis, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

Support the bent knee with a pillow if needed. Lean forward over the straight leg, any amount.

 

http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/head-to-knee-forward-bend/
http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/head-to-knee-forward-bend/
http://www.theyogaposes.com/yoga_poses.php?input_page=yoga-head-to-knee-pose
http://www.theyogaposes.com/yoga_poses.php?input_page=yoga-head-to-knee-pose