View Full Version : Student Are There Proper Tatting Ergonomics?
10-01-2012, 09:12 PM
I am a needle tatter (just a novice) and am trying to learn Shuttle Tatting. I knit, crochet, etc. I am hurting in my left hand after each session (about an hour) of trying to learn shuttle tatting. Am I doing something wrong? Help will be greatly appreciated.
10-01-2012, 09:22 PM
:blink:Don't tat for an hour. Take it from a stiff necked old bird. It is not good for your neck. I get sore in the muscle below my thumb, so I give it a rest. I've also had tennis elbow (not nice). Some people get away with it, but your body will suffer eventually. Try exercising your hand by opening and closing it slowly. You may be using new muscles, even though you are a knitter and crocheter. Don't over do it. Even though it's fun. :blink:
10-01-2012, 09:59 PM
As a newbie in tatting you are probably tensioning the muscles in your left hand more than needed, keeping the thread tighter than needed. A common challenge when learning to tat. Make pauses every now and then to ease the tension in your fingers. As you get more experienced and your left hand learns how to make just enough tension, the problem should be lesser. I can tat for hours - provided I have a pillow to rest my left elbow on to avoid problems with my shoulders - and something to watch on tv.
Tips that might help:
Try relaxing the fingers of your left hand, do not use more "power" than you have to. A relaxed left hand is easier on the hand. And make sure you relax the fingers - using the muscles to bend the finger is not relaxing.
This goes for "the pinch" as well - it should be more like a "rest index (or middle) finger on thumb keeping the tatting in place" rather than pinching hard.
This might be hard in the beginning but should be easier as the flip is automated. At the same time: a relaxed left hand makes it easier to do the flip.
Another thing to check every now and then, is the sate of your shoulders. Tatting is done using your hands. There is no need to lift your shoulders up under your ears. Make sure to let them sink down.
If these tips make you more stressed than just tatting - tat for short periods until you get the hang of the tatting, then start relaxing.:sunnysmile:
10-01-2012, 10:40 PM
I agree with AnneB. When tatting a ring you only need to hold the ring open, not push against it. You should use your pinky or ring finger to pull the ring larger, as you need it. Some people even like to use their right hand to open the ring more (again pulling the ring in the right place).
10-01-2012, 11:10 PM
One thing is to look at your "action". If you are using "slip & slide", most of the action should be in your elbows moving in and out. This allows the shoulders to stay relaxed and back, where they should be, wrists straight and held in position with the least effort, and the hands just about chest height. I have fibromyalgia, have damaged both shoulders, but can tat for several hours at a time because I use as little force as possible and keep my shoulders relaxed. Nothing needs to be tight or stressed.
If you are using a more intense method where you let go of the shuttle to wrap it around the thread, this may explain the issue, and you may want to look at changing your action. But remember that any new exercise takes practice, and 20 min on, 10 min off will get you farther than pushing for longer in a session.
10-01-2012, 11:25 PM
Yeah, there is a Tatting Ergonomics, but mostly it's what your mother told you, sit up straight, don't slouch, and relax. Whether you hold the work high or low depends on your own personal body mechanics. As a short person with tight joints, I hold my work just above the table height. And it is super important for me to have my feet flat on the floor, since that makes my whole body take on the optimum position. Other people with different heights and frames might be more comfortable in another position. I always say to look for a neutral position. If you listen to your body, you will find it. The more experienced a tatter you become, the smaller your motions will become. So listen to your body and stretch and and take a break when you need to. It's not a race!
11-01-2012, 08:40 PM
how are you holding your hand? I ask because I found that I couldn't tat without getting the shakes (and pain) when I tried to tat with the "traditional" way - holding the tatting between the pointer and thumb. I can't do it! I hold the tatting between my middle finger and my thumb, using the pointer and ring as a tensioning fingers like I do when crocheting. try both ways and do which ever one works for you.
Here's a web site with images http://www.tattedtreasures.com/2011/09/tatting-tip-a-crocheters-hand-position/
Susan B T
12-01-2012, 05:23 PM
I agree with PattyD, Also RELAX you hand and fingers. Do not keep your joints stiff, but fluid. If you feel you hand, wrist or arms tensing up...STOP and RELAX!!
Each person holds the shuttle differently... find one that best fits you....
Also do finger and thumb range of motion exercises.. . You need your arm, wrist and hand muscles to be flex and relax. The first part of the below vid. gives you an idea of some of the motions that are good for the fingers. The second part is a promo. I am not sponsoring him in any way, just like the hand moves in the first part.....
13-01-2012, 02:04 AM
Not too long ago I messed up my shuttle hand thumb pretty bad. While trying to rehab and still tat, I learned how tightly I hold the shuttle. Now that I'm holding it more loosely (still securely though) I've noticed I don't have the pain in my elbow or upper arm anymore.
I am a tight tatter also, so there's that stress on the other hand. I've been working on breaking that bad habit. Frequent breaks are a very good idea. Read somewhere that in Ireland when girls worked in the factory making lace, they had to stop and wash their hands frequently throughout the day. While it might have helped keep the lace clean, it also helped the girls take breaks to rest the muscles.
Since you also knit and crochet, take breaks to work on one of those. Different skills use muscles differently, so sometimes just changing your work relaxes muscles. I also find that slowly working my hands in warm water, like the hand washing Squeeky mentions, followed by a good hand massage in the form of applying hand lotion, is quite helpful.
13-01-2012, 11:15 AM
Like Squeeky I tend to tat very tightly. Recently I finished a doily project that I started quite a while ago. I was shocked at how different my tension was then and now. I had to really back off on how tightly I tatted so that it didn't look different when finished. I found that by easing up on how tight I was tatting my hands didn't tire near as fast and the rings closed much easier. I also have one of those squishy balls for hand excercising that I use to to give my hands a break from the tatting and as Lynn says a good hand massage helps wonders too.
13-01-2012, 04:04 PM
My hands tend to swell from time to time because of the lupus. Take a few breaks from it every now & then. All of the ideas the others have shared are wonderful. Most important though you must listen to your body. Pain means something is wrong. Finding the cause and correcting it will profit you in the long run. It could be the way you are holding things or just concentrating so hard that you are clamping your muscles too tight. Relax your tatting should be enjoyable and fun.
14-01-2012, 07:13 PM
Thank you everyone for the help. The video for hand/finger exercises may help me with all the activities I love. I do believe the Relax advise is one I need to take seriously! I need to remember that I do all these activities for the enjoyment of them and not for the speed of completion.
That's the spirit. Enjoy the journey.
Because of a nerve condition, I cannot use shuttle methods that require much of a "pinch". So mostly I needle tat. Its also Ok to needle tat, and work up to shuttle tatting a little bit at a time, practicing each day. We often laugh about how we hold the threads... each one is a bit different. We say, "The knot does not care how it is made."
01-03-2012, 03:25 PM
One thing my md suggested to me when I was having repetetive motion pain was to wear braces on my hands and wrist while sleeping. He said that while we sleep our hands go into funny positions which makes the problem worse. It worked very well.
01-03-2012, 03:49 PM
I suffer from two disorders that mean by rights I should not be at all interested in tatting - one is de quervain's syndrome, which is a problem with the tendons that allow the thumb and fingers to grip and the other is a tendency to tennis elbow.
You're likely gripping too hard at the moment, especially as you're just learning - it's quite natural to want to wrestle control from this strange object (if you also find yourself poking your tongue out while you do tricky bits be careful not to sneeze - I did that once!)
You need to be aware of your grip, an experienced tatter will have a light grip on the shuttle/needle. If you notice that you're tense, put it all down, stretch out your hands and fingers and then pick it up again.
Try to set a timer so that you only do 45 mins at a time. As you get more experienced you will be able to do more.
If your hands are sore after a session, wrap them in ice. Ibuprofen can be good to relieve inflamation but do check that you're OK to take that, stear clear of it if there's any chance you could be pregnant for example.
Never ever ever start a session if your hands are sore to begin with. It's not worth it. Wait a day and see how they are then. Trust me, you'll miss out a lot more if you push too hard - I ended up having to give up a career I really loved because of pain. Spend the day surfing for the next pattern you'll do instead :)
You may also find it useful to do a multitude of crafts - each craft has different movements, so if you tat one day then knit the next and crochet after that for example you are moving in different ways each day, this can help you not overuse the same muscles.
And finally, there are exercises that can help strengthen the muscles and tendons in your hand - check with a physiotherapist for advice.
24-03-2012, 02:10 PM
Don't hold the shuttle with a death grip!! I used to do that... :(
24-03-2012, 03:14 PM
I think most of the replies have answered your question, You must relax your hand and when you have a few mins, now I am not being rude when I say this do some finger exercises, wriggle your fingers on both hands, rotate your wrists every so often during the day, you need to strengthen your fingers a little, when your hand gets tired rest it for a while go make yourself a cup of tea and then start again, in time you will be able to tat for longer.
I think when you tat you are trying to get the tatting right that you are riged and not relaxed, just relaxe and you will find it won't hurt so much, practice, practice and more practice it will become easier.
24-03-2012, 04:34 PM
Well...you all said the things allready,
I can well remember the pain, cramping and frustration, when I learned to tat with the shuttle!
at first the akward movement to get the flip and the tension right....with time, it becomes an easy swift movement, pretty much a reflex, and you and your fingers relax and there is no pain at all from the work with the shuttle.
With practice and time, you will automatically seize to think about it and might not even spread and move all fingers. By now, I hardly move my fingers anymore...it's more like flicking the finger really, as a group of us noticed while tatting across one another.
Just a short tuck with the middle and index finger flips the knot in place.
Many shuttle tatters have noticed the same, when tatting at their work speed, I am sure.
Don't give up, as with every new exercise...it gets easier and better
24-03-2012, 11:30 PM
Not sure if this will work or help
I have recently taken a video of my tatting. It doesn't show the tatting very nicely (sorry, first time taking tatting video with still camera) but shows my hands/ hand movements. After studying this video I realised that my middle finger and my pinky play crucial roles...also, I wasn't aware of how much my thumb moved!!!! I can well understand how your hands might hurt after shuttle tatting for a while. I do notice some neck and shoulder fatigue after a while since I'm looking down all the time when tatting. It's hard to relax and take breaks.....I often have to ask my hubby to please wait to have my attention until I'm finished with this ring or whatever.
I am a 37 year old cook at an assisted living home for seniors with Alzheimer's and Dementia. I am very lucky to have strong hands. Tatting is a beautiful escape for me and a gentle exercize for my hands.
Tatting for some is mental therapy... the soothing repetitive movements... if you're not rushing it. Just takes some time to practice before you get to that point.
28-03-2012, 01:46 AM
When trying other ways of holding the tatting, don't grip to tightly or you'll end up with Tatter's Claw!!