03 Feb 2010


Through all the long years since I first learned to knit there has never been a time when I didn’t have something on the needles. For almost twenty years knitting has been my constant companion; the first thing I pick up each morning, after I put the kettle on, and the last thing I put down at night. Even when I’m busy during the day, I always make time to knit. Waiting rooms, road and rail trips, every opportunity to sit quietly becomes a welcome opportunity to pull out yarn and needles. I have a hard time imagining leaving the house without knitting in my bag. Lately, however, I’ve had many opportunities to practice doing just that.

It’s been six days since I last knit anything; I can’t begin to count the many ways that I am missing it.

The reason I’m wandering in the wilderness of the non-knitting world is that knitting hurts. I’ve had a shoulder problem for over two years now that is exacerbated by any repetitive motion. Despite employing a variety of different treatments and strategies over the years, the range of motion in my right shoulder is about half what it should be. To illustrate: raise one of your arms right now – yes, now – and bring the inside of your elbow up to your ear. I can’t do that. I can’t manage to raise my arm beyond 45 degrees on the right side. (If I were a Nazi, I’d probably be in really big trouble.) Sitting at the computer for too long is bad, but nothing makes me hurt as much as knitting.

Though I’ve been aware for many months that knitting, specifically, causes me pain, I couldn’t hope to entertain the obvious solution until I’d moved through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘ Five stages of (Knitting) Grief. I’ve knit my way through:

1. Denial – This is isn’t happening. Pass the ibuprofen.
2. Anger – Pass the fucking ibuprofen.
3. Bargaining – Just two inches, I swear. No more. Seriously, pass the ibuprofen.
4. Depression – There is no point to a life without knitting. Pass the hemlock. And also the ibuprofen.
5. Acceptance?

This week I decided to put down my needles for as long as it takes my shoulder to heal. I’m still working on Acceptance.

I don’t think that knitting is the cause of pain my shoulder, but I am positive that knitting is one of the things standing between me and being well. Stumbling my way towards the final stage of Knitting Grief has forced me to admit that the many benefits I’ve received from a regimen of acupuncture and gentle exercise, have been entirely undone by my stubborn refusal to give up knitting, and my childish reliance on ibuprofen to mask the pain. That stubborn, childish behavior caught up with me earlier this month, when I awoke in the wee hours with the worst abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced. Worse than childbirth. Worse, even, than the pain after gall bladder surgery, because I was awake to experience it, and not groggy from anesthesia.

The nice EMT’s said I was among the 2% of patients they see whom they believe actually needs pain medication, so they gave me some and took me to the hospital. There the nice emergency doctor poked around and asked a bunch of questions and she suggested that, of four possible scenarios, a problem with the lining of my stomach was the likeliest cause of my pain. We talked about “corrosives”, of which ibuprofen is apparently a biggie. Drugs will help repair the damage to my stomach, and I will be fine, but it’s really gotta be the end of popping ibuprofen like Tic-Tacs.

Without ibuprofen my shoulder is unbelievably painful; the kind of painful that wakes you in the middle of the night, to remind you it will still be there for you in the morning. It’s even worse after knitting, so there will be no knitting, of any kind, from now until my shoulder is pain free. It’s been six days since I last knit anything (did I mention that?); I cannot begin to count the number of ways in which I miss it.

January was a blur of health issues, which ought to go some way towards explaining my silence over the past month. What’s even worse is that it must continue. Editing audio requires a very specific set of repetitive motions on the computer, and is also beyond my physical capacity. Truthfully though, even if I felt better, even if editing audio didn’t hurt almost as much as knitting, I’m not sure I could muster up the mojo for a podcast, nor would the podcast I’d create right now be much fun to listen to. Both knitting, and Cast On are unexpectedly on hiatus, until my shoulder heals.

We’ve all heard stories of people who knit once, but don’t anymore, and I know you’ve probably wondered, just as I have, how in the hell they did it. Did they wean themselves off it, or go Cold Turkey? Did they miss it as much as I do? I’m sure I don’t know.

I am also sure that there is a silver lining, a ray of sunshine, or some kind of bright side to all of this. There must be. When I reach Acceptance, I’ll let you know what it is.

Posted on February 3, in Blog


  1. Sam wrote:

    Oh Brenda, I am so sorry you’re unable to knit anything at the moment.

    I myself am finding I need to adjust my posture too, as I’m starting to get pains in my shoulders.

    Are you able to crochet? Spin? Sew?

    I hope you recover quickly and that the pain eases for you soon – all I can recommend for you are hot and cold compresses.

    Thinking of you xx

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  2. Marti wrote:

    I will miss you terribly, but what must be, must be. This too shall pass?

    Rest and recover… we will be here when you return.

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  3. Bonny wrote:

    Yikes!! I really feel for you, really I do. I just had surgery this past Christmas day to have a very inflamed gall bladder removed and I also have ongoing issues with my neck and shoulders. I only took up knitting again in September after 2 years of giving it a break. But I stopped voluntarily before my aches became too serious. I bought knitting books and subscribed to my favourite knitting magazine so I could at least read about knitting and plan projects.

    I see my chiropractor once a month to have my shoulders and spine adjusted and for me, that is key to my health. I also go for therapeutic massages maybe once a month. You know- the very deep tissue massages to break up scar tissue from over used muscles and also to keep my muscles limber.

    Recently, a friend told me about your Cast On podcasts and I’ve been slowly making my way through the archives from episode 1. It will keep me happy for a while yet as I knit on shawls and socks and…. sorry. Shouldn’t tempt you with projects.

    Take as much time as your body tells you it needs. You can take this time to practice your watercolours or pursue other activities you had no time for. When you come back, you will have a fresh focus and new experiences to share with your listeners. I for one, will be waiting patiently for that day.

    Take care of yourself. You are a very special and unique person 🙂

    Bonny in BC, Canada

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  4. Honnay wrote:

    Dear Brenda–

    Rest, take care of yourself, be smart about your health. We’ll be here when you’re ready to return to work.

    Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I shall cherish my cache of your podcasts even more.

    Honnay (elizh)
    Your Ravelry Fan Club moderator

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  5. Take care of yourself Brenda! The knitting world will be here when your shoulder heals. Maybe the silver lining could even be a new craft that won’t hurt your shoulder – keep your mind open and be well!

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  6. Jen wrote:

    Brenda – What a terrible time for you. I just wanted to send a message to say there are lots of us thinking of you and sending you all our best wishes. I hope we can muster some mojo for you, to help you while you get through this. Acceptance is a tough thing. But you’re a talented and creative person, and I have no doubt you will come up with a solution / outlet that brings you the joy knitting does. We’ll miss your unique voice while you recover.

    I’m sure it’s not comparable to yours, but I also get pain in my right shoulder when I knit (from a bursitis). Acupuncture has enabled me to keep knitting and spinning. Perhaps it could be some help to you too.

    Wishing you well,

    Jen in Dorset, UK

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  7. Sar wrote:

    Hang in there Brenda. I’d be gnawing off my fingers for sure if I couldn’t sooth myself with some knitting regularly. I too have to listen to my body — I’ve been noticing more and more odd tingling sensations in my right thumb and palm after having knit for a couple of hours. I have to keep reminding myself to take breaks; the knitting will get done in time; there is no hurry and it will benefit no one if I exacerbate what is clearly a repetitive strain issue (not yet painful thankfully; I hope to keep it that way as long as possible).

    Sending you healing vibes from across the pond,

    Posted on 2.3.10 ·
  8. I’m so sorry to hear that your shoulder has gotten to this point (I can’t imagine going without knitting!), but I am happy to hear that you are doing what you need to do to let it heal. I will both miss your show and welcome it back with equal intensity. 🙂

    Be well.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  9. Camille wrote:

    Oh Brenda! I can’t tell you how sorry I was to read this. Sending lots of good thoughts your way. Feel better soon!

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  10. Auntly H wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    My deepest sympathies. And, my greatest hopes that this forced break from (or end of) knitting is simply your watercolors begging for attention. I have no doubt your creative spirit will survive this physical detour.

    best wishes,

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  11. Rachel wrote:

    Brenda, you have been such an inspiration for me to go boldly in the direction of my dreams, and I am truly sorry that you are facing this lack of knitting. I am only one among the many who are with you in spirit, and I’m sure we will all be knitting many of our stitches for you.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  12. Connie wrote:

    We will miss you obviously, but don’t want you putting yourself in hospital to put out a podcast. I’ve had shoulder pain from the rotator cuff and I did have to take small breaks from knitting. The good news is with physical therapy and time to heal you can get better and knit again.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  13. October wrote:

    Oh my goodness – this breaks my heart for you (and rather selfishly for myself too – No Brenda!!! Indefinitely!!!! NOOOoooooo!!!)
    I am a new knitter (1 year) and the joy knitting has brought me is priceless. I happened on your podcast a few months ago and have downloaded and listened to all of them – several times. (You know how you feel about Norah Gaughan – yeah… )
    I do want you to know that you’ve been an inspiration not only as a knitter but in your outlook on life. So many times after hearing an episode – I’ve wanted to write but the words just don’t come coherently and when they do they sound celebrity stalker starry eyed or redundant.
    Just know you will be thought of often, wished well and missed horribly.
    Please keep us updated on your progress as you can.
    Feel better and much love to you and Tonia ~
    PS – I’m really enjoying The Age of Innocence too! Great work!

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  14. Deb C wrote:

    Yes, this has happened to me, although I’m a sewist. I’ve been sewing all my life, and there was a period of time where my shoulder hurt so bad I couldn’t sew. I thought my world would end. It didn’t, and I’m back at the sewing machine.
    Patience, and new ways of working are the key. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you for all the work you’ve done and we’ll wait!
    Love and healing,

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  15. Colleen wrote:

    I’m terribly sorry to hear this, Brenda, but I understand.

    Pain like that is terrible–and tiring. Please do rest up, and let us know how you’re doing when you can–even if it’s blog entries.

    You will find other things to fill in the time, honest.

    Thanks again with the help on altering men’s shirts to women’s blouses.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  16. Anna wrote:

    I’ve been knitting for less than a year and a half, and about six months in, my thumb started to hurt from wrapping the yarn for purling (trying to purl Continental style took me a while to do without hurting myself), and the pain spread down into my wrist. It was very difficult to set my knitting aside and let my hand heal. My husband kept taking it away from me because I didn’t want to stop for a few days, even though it hurt. And that was with less than a year of ingraining this habit into my hands. I can’t imagine how hard it is to set it aside after years and years of knitting, even with such impelling health reasons. I hope you heal well and soon.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  17. webfrau wrote:

    Heal well and quickly. We’ll miss you while you’re gone. I was listening to you just this morning walking through the snowy woods and laughing at the image of you carrying the dogs through the boggy bits. 🙂
    Thanks for all your hard work and dedication in sharing yourself with us. I hope you’ll be back on the airwaves(?) someday.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  18. Adrienne wrote:

    Oh! I’m so sorry that you’re in so much pain. Take care of yourself and do what needs to be done to heal.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  19. Carole wrote:

    I don’t know how to express my sadness… Well, I mean, I feel really sad for you of course. But I’m sooooo incredibly sad that you have to resign, which means that I don’t have anything left to feed my addiction 🙁
    I thought many times I should write to you to say how much I relate to you in so many ways, and now I know I should have. I will, eventually…

    Take care Brenda, and come back as soon as possible. We already miss you so much!


    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  20. Nina wrote:

    All the best for a peaceful recovery time. I hope the weather allows you to take some wonderful walks in your millenium woods! We’ll all be here when you get back.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  21. Olivia wrote:

    Oh Brenda I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you. Giving up knitting is unthinkable to me as I carry mine around like a talisman to ward off evil. My best advice is to try to find some humor in all of this. I often find humor to be my bestfriend and guide to accepting the unthinkable. Get well soon!

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  22. Beapea wrote:

    Hi Brenda, I hope you get well soon. I love your podcasts and will miss them, but your health is more important. Whatever you can do to decrease painkillers is vital. My husband is tall and was having a lot of neck problems a few years ago. He was eating ibuprofen like it was candy. One day he had horrible horrible lower back pain and was peeing blood. Long story short – he had become allergic to ibuprofen and his kidneys were in failure. Spent a few days in the hospital, had a few days of dialysis, and luckily with an excellent doctor has made a full recovery. But he can never ever ever take an ibuprofen or other drug in that class ever again. It was scary and awful and made me even more convinced that finding non-drug therapies for aches and pains is sooooo important. So I wish you lots of luck, while feeling optimistic for you that it can be done. (My husband now manages neck and back issues with more physical therapy and regular massages).

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  23. Beaweezil wrote:

    Take care of yourself first, the rest of us will do the same and all meet again when we’re ready. Be well Brenda.

    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  24. DebbieN wrote:

    Wishing you all the best for a full recovery and finding something to fill the gap (hopefully temporarily!) the knitting used to fill.

    Be well


    Posted on 2.4.10 ·
  25. alice pollock wrote:

    Brenda I will never again complain about losing my knitting needles to security on a trans-continental flight! I thought 8 hours with no knitting was bad! Please heal up soon,being very careful not to damage yourself by too much too soon.

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  26. Harriet Blakeman wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    I was so sorry to hear about your shoulder – and the abdomen. I did my shoulder in just over a year ago from over-knitting as a passenger on a long drive down from Newcastle to home. It wasn’t just the knitting but years of sitting badly at the computer and lugging a heavy laptop around. I ended up with some posh-sounding condition, but what mattered to me was that I could barely move my left arm, it hurt like hell all the time, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t drive, and I couldn’t knit. Rest, physio and pills that made me feel sick so gave up taking them, slowly, nearly, cured it. I still can’t get my left arm all the way up to my ear, but that has become normal. And the knitting? Oh yes, I can knit again, just not for too long. I guess I was lucky it was my left arm. Do left handed knitters knit the other way around? My mother had a rule that she would not allow herself to knit in the mornings, supposedly because once she started she wouldn’t want to stop and the daily chores would never get done. Perhaps she had a secret shoulder ache too?

    I really hope the shoulder recovers soon
    with love and best wishes from Harriet in the Home Counties

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  27. Evelyn wrote:

    So sorry to hear about your pain. Sending warm, heal-y thoughts your way. We will miss your soothing voice and cheering podcasts, but not nearly as much as you must miss knitting. Yarn is such a faithful friend, it’s really hard to imagine having to give that up. Let’s hope that this is temporary!

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  28. I feel for you. I had carpal tunnel for over 10 years and handled it the way you have your shoulder. I finally had surgery on both hands and was knitting ASAP – within a day or two. Still, the hours of knitting take their toll on our bodies.
    I see that you are a reader – read on! Now is the time to get to all those books that have been waiting. Relax, meditate.
    Thank you for staying in touch through your blog. We all love your podcasts and will miss listening but you have not lost your voice. Good luck.

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  29. EL wrote:

    Just dipping again into “Rigmaroles and Ragamuffins” and remembering what a great find you brought us in Elinor Kapp and the other great interviews you’ve done… would it cheer you up to go out and collect some more for future podcasts? You wouldn’t even have to edit them right away, if that’s too painful. Go out and “collect material” and you might distract yourself. It will enrich us too, later.

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  30. Heidi wrote:

    I read this yesterday right after you posted, and just couldn’t find words…..I cannot imagine what this must be like.. I think so many of us find some of our identity in our knitting, not to mention normalcy and solace. It is as though we become more and more woven into the works of our hands that it becomes an extension of ourselves. I am sure that this is a struggle….I hope that the rest will bring true and permanent healing to your shoulder, and I also want you to know that we do not love just “Brenda the knitter” or “Brenda the knitwear designer” or “Brenda the podcast creator” but we love you for who you are. I am certain that though your knitting future is unclear, that you will find some way to flex your creative energy in ways that will inspire us, for it is in the making where the true magic is.

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  31. Renee wrote:

    Oh dear, Brenda, I totally understand. And you’ve been a trooper all these years, with the amazing podcast and knitterly creations. Think of it as being on the injured reserve list. It doesn’t mean your career is over, just that you need to set aside the time to be well. May the world send you new things that will widen your love for the world and life during this time!

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  32. Megan Roberts wrote:

    I send all my healing thoughts and warm wishes your way. Your radio silence will mean many of us will be knitting along more slowly, more lonely. I have also experienced the “corrosive” stomach thing, damn ibuprofen.

    Posted on 2.5.10 ·
  33. Marceli wrote:

    Oh Brenda I’m so sorry… I have been “out” for many months due to ilness. I can relate to the pain of not being able to do what you love. Be patient with yourself and your body. It will heal. Don’t worry about anything but your health at this point. We’ll stick around!

    Posted on 2.6.10 ·
  34. Marie wrote:

    Take lots of time off, heal and relax. We’ll miss you, but we have your mountains of your podcasts to listen to over and over again while you’re away.
    I hope you can knit again. If not, there’s always radio. You have the voice for it you know.
    I wish you many creative adventures in your life. I hope we all hear you again talking about your knitting – someday.

    Posted on 2.6.10 ·
  35. Janet wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    I also have had to curtail my knitting over the past year due to a shoulder injury (different symptoms). I end up passing blood if I take typical OTC pain meds (Advil or asperin). I can tolerate Tylenol but don’t want to stress my liver more than necessary. I have had success with Boswellia. Shaklee uses it in their “Pain Relief Complex” and I’ve also seen other sources of it in the health food stores. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boswellia

    (I’ve also had excellent success with Intramuscular Stimulation from my physiotherapist to release my painful and pain-creating muscles. http://www.intramuscularstimulation.com/2.htm)

    Best of luck to you.

    Posted on 2.6.10 ·
  36. Esther McDonald wrote:

    Dear Brenda, last year I had a painful hand and thumb that the doctor diagnosed as some unpronounceable thing or other. I couldn’t type or knit for a month. At the end of the month I still wasn’t well so I deeply mourned the death of my knitting life. After three months it was gone! And I knit on. Yours will heal too.

    Posted on 2.7.10 ·
  37. alice marie wrote:

    Hi Brenda, so sorry to hear about your shoulder. I went through rsi via tendonitis and was off work for over one year and retrained to do something else but the silver lining for me…and maybe for you…is that after 18 mos. of enforced non-use, I learned how to do the right things to take care of hands/arms/neck and can now use the computer again, in moderation. It was a very scary experience and in the end it made me a stronger person with a better career. Recently I had surgery and can’t lift my left shoulder, just as you said, and it hurts just as you said. How do you wear a seatbelt? Oh, and finally, I have gastroenteritis, hello, from all the meds. Just wanted you to know that you are most def not alone in your experience and acceptance will come when it decides to. Take good care.

    Posted on 2.7.10 ·
  38. Amy wrote:

    Take Care…and rest and do what you need to do to be well both in mind, spirit, and body. 🙂

    Posted on 2.7.10 ·
  39. Lisa Jacobs wrote:

    I hope that you can hold a book comfortably, walk and enjoy the outdoors, listen to the radio and let someonelse do the podcasting work that you can enjoy listening to for a change. These illnesses and events which stop us in our tracks serve to remind us of the fragility and at the same time of the beauty of life. I absolutely love your podcast, think it is the best one around…and there are many many of them, and I will miss hearing from you and I am sure all your listeners feel the same. SO-take very good care of yourself, be kind and understanding of yourself and enjoy what you can from each day, knowing that lots and lots of people out here in cyberspace are thinking of you and wishing you well.xx

    Posted on 2.8.10 ·
  40. Cnyttan wrote:

    I will miss you! I just love your podcast and will sorely miss your voice and stories as I drive around the Amish countryside late at night, after catching a baby….

    I will send healing love your way, and the hope you will find something that occupies your heart and mind as much as knitting, in these weeks you must rest. At least you can still read! and listen! and walk!

    Best to you,

    Posted on 2.8.10 ·
  41. Gloria wrote:

    Brenda, sorry to hear about the shoulder, I to have had the same issue, if you stop when the pain starts for about six month, you will be able to knit again. Same for carpel tunnel, you have to quit whatever you are doing,and yes, you can come back, I did.

    Posted on 2.8.10 ·
  42. Gaidig wrote:

    Brenda, I am so sorry that you are going through this. Here’s hoping that you will heal and be able to get back to knitting soon.

    Posted on 2.8.10 ·
  43. Simone wrote:

    Hello! There are more of you out there… A friend of mine had to give up her music (as in concert flute player) for a shoulder issue, she now has another creative hobby in making stained glass window ornaments (can’t knit either).. but needed the time to get well. I hope you can start finding other joys to distract you from your loved activities as you get better! As everyone is saying, we are sad you are not here but will still be here if you can come back. 🙂 Rest rest rest!

    Posted on 2.8.10 ·
  44. Jean Wrightnour wrote:

    It’s 5:30 pm here in frigid NE Ohio and the sun is STILL out and the sky is BLUE, that blue that gives the housebound and cabin-fevered hope that spring WILL come! However, in checking in with your group on Ravelry, I discovered that you are OUT OF COMMISSION for some time to come and a wee bit of a cloud passed by. I think that this is a good time to schmooze the sick girl.

    And so, I will tell you, you who I have never even met but who I feel I know from your delicious, heartfelt writing, your soothing voice and style and your meticulous production, I will tell you how much your words have meant to me over the years. I came on board over a year ago and have enthusiastically recommended your podcast to my knitting buddies who were not familiar with it. I will tell you that they thanked ME for steering them to such quality information and entertainment. Just by referring you to them gave me credibility (how is this schmoozing going so far? You should NOT be reaching for ibuprofen at this juncture!!) When I first began to listen, I listened backwards and have about a dozen podcasts that I’ve yet to listen to, just waiting for a Cast-On Emergency! I will take this hiatus to utilize those emergency podcasts!

    (As an aside, for those of you who have not “listened backwards”, I cannot recommend it highly enough. You get the answer to the hanging question before the question is asked and because of the integrity of the writing in this series, there is value in the reverse chronology method as well as the “listening forwards” method.)

    Should you, Brenda, decide that this will be the end of your podcast (G A S P! I surely hope that it would not be so, but the river of life moves us along sometimes whether we know how to swim or not!), then I will grieve appropriately and wish you all the happiness that you have given to me be reflected back to you.

    Thinking of not knitting is crazy but I too have noted that both the knitting and a bit of the spinning I only recently learned can cause shoulder pain. I too have been relying more and more on the “ibuprofen is my friend” route and have been helped miraculously by said friend and can NOT imagine a day without it. **sigh** What wise elder was it who said, “Getting older is NOT for sissies!”? Well, we are NOT sissies but we are wise enough to learn to listen, even when we do NOT want to, to what we HAVE to do to do what we WANT to do in the future.

    All this just to say that there are those of use who have NEVER commented before but who appreciate and care about your health and well-being. You have enriched me through your podcast. The schmooze is over (thankfully!), but the sentiment is true.

    Heal well. Sending prayers out to the Goddess of Patience for YOU!

    Posted on 2.8.10 ·
  45. Duffy wrote:

    I’m sorry to hear that your knitting have caused you problems. I hope that you don’t have to be on knitting purgatory too terribly long and that you’re able to find something else to satisfy your creative drive. I’ve been there.

    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  46. Katherine wrote:


    I LOVE your podcast and will miss hearing from you. Take your time to heal. Unfortunately I can sympathize.

    I first experienced chronic hand/wrist/arm/shoulder pain at the tender age of 19 (NOT old enough to feel trapped in an 80 year old body). At at trip to the therapist I realized that MOST EVERYTHING I love to do in life (graphic design, knitting, creating art, playing the piano) intimately involves my hands. But it has helped me look around and see what is left for a repetitive motion junkie. Talking with friends and reading are two of the greatest joys in life, and with the help of hands free phones and book rests, hands are not strictly required.

    There is really no good way to go through knitting withdrawal. I sort of replace it with swimming as repetitive motion, but you can’t exactly do that while watching TV. I have come to live in an all or nothing existence with my beloved knitting. I can probably safely knit for about 10-20 minutes, but I never seem to be able to stop either. My main coping mechanism has been listening to Cast On to live vicariously through everyone else’s knitting. I wish we could somehow do something so wonderful for you!

    Even though I rarely actually knit, I still fall victim to heady, reckless purchases of delicious yarns. Expect this on the path to recovery. I hang the skeins up to admire so I don’t deprive myself of some yarn enjoyment ; )

    I have found several good repetitive strain injury books with a variety of concrete advice.
    -It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! RSI Theory & Therapy for Computer Professionals by Jack Bellis and Suparna Damany has lots of good advice for anyone with any type of arm pain.
    -The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief by Clair Davies has really helped with my pain.
    -He also has an excellent book about frozen shoulder, although I have not dealt with this personally. The Frozen Shoulder Workbook: Trigger Point Therapy for Overcoming Pain & Regaining Range of Motion by Clair Davies

    What has helped me the most is to carefully monitor my “hand budget” (ie not too much knitting, typing, etc), download and pay attention to a computer break monitor, and get massages as frequently as possible to work out the muscle adhesions.

    So sorry I can’t be of more help from across the pond. I would love to hear how things are going for you as your computer use permits. If you find it helpful I’m sure my fellow listeners would love to be a long distance support system. And even if your future podcast might not comment on you knitting, I would love to hear your beautiful stories on any subject.

    All the best.


    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  47. Darling Brenda, I’m so sorry to hear about your pain issues and the necessity to give up knitting for a while. I can’t imagine how hard it must be right now, but I know you are a creative, talented woman, and you will find some kind of outlet that will at least help to distract you from the knitting loss for a while.

    I had been saving the last two podcasts for the perfect time, and just listened to them yesterday as I was flying home, knitting a noro striped scarf. It was such a comfort to hear your voice on a stressful and anxious day for me (my cat was flying with me!). Please know you have friends and supporters all over the world, and our prayers and knitting mojo are with you.

    Take care of yourself!

    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  48. Colleen wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    When I sync up my ipod and unplug it from my computer I always first look to see if Cast On has been downloaded. Since it has been a little while since the last one, I was distressed to come to your blog to check the status and see that you are in such pain. I can’t imagine not being able to knit. It is hard enough to imagine some months or times ahead when I will not be able to knit to Cast On as it is one of the small pleasures in my life that add up to making my life – a very good life. I think if I had to stop knitting for a while – it would be one of those circumstances that would re-order my world – as it is such an intrinsic and ordinary part of how I live my life everyday – like drinking my coffee first thing in the morning and brushing my teeth last thing at night.

    My thoughts and best wishes with you for a speedy recovery from your pain. I hope you have a good physical therapist to help you through this and that we will hear your singular voice again very soon.

    All the best to you, from across the pond…

    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  49. Barb wrote:

    Brenda, I too have very hurtie shoulders. I have had one injection in the joint of my left shoulder and now am awaiting the scan results so I can get the right one injected. Anything I do makes them hurt right now: moving, sewing, reaching for the remote, lifting a cup of coffee to my mouth. The pain awakens me nightly several times and I can’t wait till the pain is over. I had to stop the oral anti-inflammatory medications a month ago because I developed an ulcer. Luckily it was caught early and the ulcer meds worked. Geez getting old is a $%@@@. So… I understand completely of why you need a break. I can’t put down my knitting totally, so currently I prop my elbows on foam pads and try and move my upper arms as little as possible. Kind of humorous to watch but I have to have at least 30 minutes of knitting a night or I would go insane. Be well and I can’t wait till your recovered and can knit like the wind again.

    Posted on 2.12.10 ·
  50. Patti wrote:

    I can so empathize with you. I am still going twice a week to physical therapy for an inflamed rotator cuff and frozen shoulder that began way back in August. However, even though I don’t have full use of the arm/shoulder combo yet, I have been able to continue to knit throughout the ordeal. Sitting at the computer and using the mouse is another issue altogether. I know my desk and mouse are not at the ideal height and that seemed to exacerbate the situation for a long time. Waking up at night in pain was also a way of life. And, I’m with you – fuck the ibuprofen (1200 mg at a time was like taking candy). I was onto the darvocet way of better living through chemistry. Cortisone shots have helped a lot, PT is tough but rewarding although tiresome after 3 months. You will be in my thoughts whenever I feel the achiness and I hope you get to that happy place when you can knit again soon.

    Take care!

    Posted on 2.14.10 ·
  51. Denise wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    I recognize myself in your description of your shoulder pain. Even before reading your post I’d realized I needed to cut back on my knitting, but I haven’t been able to go cold turkey yet. I’ll be working on acceptance. Your readers’ comments have been helpful.

    Another note about all that ibuprofen: your stomach’s rebellion may have saved your kidneys. A friend used it to mask chronic back pain due to an injury and is now in line for a kidney transplant. It’s easy to forget that just because a medication is available over the counter, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to used with care and respect.

    Posted on 2.14.10 ·
  52. Michelle wrote:

    OH Brenda wish for a quick recovery..I hope that you are feeling better soon.

    Posted on 2.14.10 ·
  53. Jennie wrote:

    Hi Brenda!

    I’ve been listening to your podcast for awhile now and I L-O-V-E it! I’m so sorry to hear you won’t be able to knit or podcast for awhile. I’m sending positive vibes from Texas and I hope you start to feel some relief!

    I feel like I can relate to you a little bit. I actually won’t be knitting for awhile either, although mine is by choice. I am an obsessive knitter and I decided to give up knitting for Lent. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I just feel like it’s something I have to do. I spend SO much time knitting, I’m curious to see what I will do with myself when knitting is not an option. I have today and tomorrow and then the sacrifice begins! I’ll be thinking about you too on your knitting hiatus!

    – Jennie

    Posted on 2.15.10 ·
  54. Angie wrote:

    Hi Brenda:)

    I love your podcast, your voice is amazing and you are so articulate, creative, and funny. I was wondering if you could switch to continental style knitting? I have a bad right shoulder too, and making the switch helped me immensely.

    Posted on 2.17.10 ·
  55. Lisa wrote:

    I miss your voice! I will go and listen to some of your older podcasts and while I am doing that I will send good vibes your way for a full recovery so that you can have your knitting back, and we can have you back. Take care and don’t be tempted to pick up those needles too soon.

    Posted on 2.17.10 ·
  56. Kristan wrote:


    My Mom had to do the same thing. She FINALLY went to see a surgeon, had surgery and physical therapy and now has full range of motion back!!! It is the “gardener’s” version of a baseball injury for her, and since it was something that happened slowly over time, and not while pitching in Prime Time, it took a long time to finally discover. They just made three little incisions and fixed her up! Maybe this is what yours is, too? I hope so, as it was really exciting for her to get back to knitting!

    Posted on 2.17.10 ·
  57. Alex wrote:

    Hi Brenda, I so recognize your description. A few years ago I had to put down my knitting for exactly the same reason. I was in such pain! It was a combination of Christmas knitting and long hours behind a computer that did me in. I stopped knitting for 4 months. Even today, years later, I have to mouse with my left hand only. If I use a mouse in my right hand for even an hour I can feel the pain coming back. I went to physical therapy (several kinds) and in the end the answer was just, simply, REST those muscles. The good news is that I’m back to knitting (a lot). I do have to pay close attention to my back and STOP using those muscles for a while if I feel even the slightest pain again. You WILL get through this. Patience is hard, but it’s what you need the most. Hugs and hugs, Alex

    Posted on 2.20.10 ·
  58. Beverley wrote:

    Hi Brenda,sorry to hear you are continuing to have problems with your shoulder. My husband is suffering with his right shoulder, unable to sleep most nights the night through as the pain wakes him. They strap his shoulder now and again which helps, but he can’t do this all the time otherwise it pushes the problem somewhere else. The painkillers they give him, leave him feeling in a fog the next day. He has been told he needs to do micro exercises as its the tiny muscles? that are damaged and need repair!

    The fact that you were woken with the abdominal pains might have been a Godsend, although it may not have felt it at the time. My son in law used to take painkillers all the time, (we didn’t know) for migraines, he has now been unable to work for almost two years and is on the list for a kidney transplant.

    Stay well, and try to find things you can do that won’t cause you pain, maybe write a book on the funnier side of knitting, you could dictate the book, rather than having to “write” it. I think your memoirs would be funny to read, and I mean that in the nicest possible way! Beverley

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  59. Eileen wrote:

    Your voice will be missed but you should rest and take time to heal. I had trouble with my elbow years ago from doing too much knitting in a short period of time. It took me a year to get better, you don’t want to be in that situation. Stay well.

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  60. Jena (the yarn harpy) wrote:


    I sincerely hope that time brings you healing – physical, mental, spiritual – and that at some point you are able to return to the needles and the microphone. If it does not, however, I know that you are a strong woman who will power onward and find a new way to fulfill the need that knitting and podcasting will leave open.
    Blessings and hope for you, knitsib.

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  61. Riin wrote:

    Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. Pain sucks.

    Maybe you could weave? Paint? Cut pictures out of magazines and make collages?

    Or maybe you could use this time to read some really engrossing novels?

    I hope you feel better soon!

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  62. Agnes wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    through listening to your podcast I feel as though we are old friends. We share a huge love for knitting and I also feel so connected to you because I am a Europian (German) living in the USA, also for love – therefore I know exactly what you’re talking about missing your home country but then again feeling so at home where you are.
    I’m glad to read this update on how it’s going and believe me, I can feel your pain. Both physically and emotionally (because of having to stay away from your great passion, knitting).

    Please have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as loads of greens during your time of healing, my dear friend!
    That will help your body heal even faster! 🙂

    All the best to you!

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  63. Paula wrote:

    I’m so sorry you have to give up something you enjoy. I’ll miss the podcast.

    Thanks for the ibuprophen warning. I needed it.

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  64. LynnH wrote:

    Brenda, I also can not handle ibuprofen because of stomach pain. My story there is not as dramatic as yours but has the same result.

    I teach and sing professionally. I had to not make a sound with my voice for 31 days, about 15 years ago. Doctor’s orders, total silence. Talk about grief! Silence makes you invisible. I am far too familiar with loss and grief, and that was the worst one for outright depression… valid grief but deep and personal.

    Love your podcast, but there are some old ones I’ve missed and I’ll go back for those. Also, I could re-listen to a good number forever, I have favorites.

    Meanwhile, nobody can take care of you, other than you. Good that you are at the point of willingness. Sorry that it took this much pain to do that for you.

    Hugs over the pond. Do what you must do, and we’ll catch you when you feel able to touch base here again.

    Posted on 3.17.10 ·
  65. Sorry to hear about your shoulder pain! Sounds like you are enjoying the learning experience with watercolor. Hang in there!

    Posted on 3.27.10 ·
  66. kaystir wrote:

    Please do whatever you can to heal yourself. I hope that you get better and can get back to knitting and podcasting. If that does not happen for a while – I (and a lot of people I am sure) will wait. You are more than worth the wait.

    I unfortunately know repetitive injury pain. I had thoracic outlet syndrome from data entry during the third year of college. I could not take notes (which during upper level course was not easy). When I would sign a credit card slip I would be in pain for hours. I have gotten better with the help of self awareness and physical therapy. The point is that I can do repetitive motions now (true I have to stop when my body tells me, and nothing helps like exercise) but this will pass. You will get through this.

    Sending loving and (I hope) healing vibes from the states.
    By the way – wow your simple watercolor from March 25th – awesome!

    Posted on 3.28.10 ·
  67. Robin wrote:

    i just surfed into your website from googling gallbladder (i’m having mine out in 2 weeks). your letter cheered me up, as did the comments. i also lost range of motion in my shoulder and had a lot of pain. with physical therapy it came back almost completely.. it was diagnosed as adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). i hope your hanging in there…

    Posted on 3.28.10 ·
  68. Naoko wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    Just catching up now–could it be that you have a “frozen shoulder”? (If you’ve figured it out from last post, don’t bother reading the rest.) This happened to me a couple of years ago; I could not raise my right arm above my ear. Putting on winter coats, lying on my right side, etc., hurt.

    If so, you need physical therapy. It took me weeks of physical therapy to be able to bring my arm straight above my head. Now my shoulder is fine; I am knitting & typing without pain again.

    A “frozen shoulder” occurs because you hurt your arm/shoulder somehow & avoid using it by “babying” it. The physical therapist & orthopedic doctor told me that stretching once a day–arms/shoulder rotating fully can prevent this from happening again. And it can happen again. My mom “froze” her shoulder twice. Imagine her pain; she’s a golfer.

    Posted on 3.29.10 ·
  69. marina wrote:

    I had very painful “frozen shoulder”, but weeks of physical therapy did not help. It turned out that the pain and severely reduced range of motion were caused by a very small bone spur in my shoulder. A quick operation (didn’t even have to stay in the hospital, it was done in a clinic in about an hour), and the pain was gone. A bit more physical therapy helped return my range of motion and now I barely can tell that anything was ever wrong with my shoulder. The bone spur did not show up on an x-ray, they had to do a more intensive scan to see it.

    Posted on 3.30.10 ·
  70. ansley wrote:

    Ugh. I am going through a similar “can’t knit” episode with my forearms…tendonitis. It pretty much sucks. I have been doing all kinds of treatments…drugs, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic and … nothing. I finally had a blood injection (autologous blood injection) into the elbow. One to three treatments are supposed to be the cure.

    As far as shoulders go, I listened to another podcaster who had a similar problem. She started doing the yoga cobra pose for 30-60 mins per day while she watched a TV episode. She said it cured her. Maybe a traction device could deliver the same results??

    At any rate, this is frustrating and depressing. I raise my glass to toast to a fulfilling, pain free year for both of us.

    Best wishes,
    Ansley in Los Angeles, CA.

    Posted on 4.3.10 ·
  71. Digitaldiina wrote:

    Brenda, you have my best wishes for recovering health. Don’t rush it. As much as I’d like to hear your voice again, I know what you mean by repetitive editing motions. As a technical writer, I get my share of keyboard / mouse repetitions, and the urge to pop some painkillers.
    It is great that you are blogging!

    Posted on 4.3.10 ·
  72. Caelidh wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I do miss the podcasts.. I have been dealing with the death of my mother a month ago… and realised you hadn’t posted a cast in a while.. I do miss it.. but I do hope you get better…. I understand how health issues can slow you down.. Please get better soon. You are always an inspiration. Namaste.

    Posted on 4.5.10 ·
  73. alala wrote:

    Oh no! I’m so sorry, and all best wishes for a speedy and COMPLETE recovery.

    Posted on 4.6.10 ·
  74. Audrey B. wrote:


    I feel for you. I, too, have had shoulder issues and it bites.
    Please try acupuncture, if you have not already. Not only will it help your shoulder, but also general pain management.

    And I just caught up on the podcasts! I will miss listening.

    Posted on 4.7.10 ·
  75. Sunnyknitter wrote:

    Just was thinking about you today and came over to the blog. Poking around a bit I found this. I, too, have battled with shoulder problems. I won’t bore you with the details and I’m incredibly grateful that they are for the most part resolved, but I do understand what you are going through. It’s frustrating, depressing, infuriating, painful, etc., etc., etc. It’s also a reminder to be good to yourself, something I apparently need to be reminded of from time to time.

    Getting through shoulder injuries takes time and patience, for you and those around you that have to deal with your reaction. (Yes, my family and friends should be sainted, frankly.) I wish you health and happiness as soon as possible and in the meantime send hugs to you and Tonya (sp?). You will survive and knitting will be there, or not if that’s what feels right, when you do. As a listener, I’ll be here no matter what you talk about, as long as it’s not brussel sprouts or giant furry spiders. (We all have our issues!)

    Take care,

    Posted on 4.8.10 ·
  76. Julie wrote:

    I came looking for you because I miss your podcast. So sorry to hear about your shoulder and stomach problems – ouch. Take care, put in the time needed to heal and get better!
    I wrote to you a couple of months ago about yarn shopping near Swansea, don’t know if you recall. I’ll be there in 2 weeks and am so excited to see Wales. My cousin and his partner will be touring me around so I get to sit back and enjoy.
    Best wishes,

    Posted on 4.11.10 ·
  77. Laura wrote:

    Brenda, Just wanted to let you kow how much I miss your podcast. Totally understand! Have had shoulder surgery and surgery on both hands. Rest well and heal. Take care!

    Posted on 4.15.10 ·
  78. Regina wrote:

    One day at a time. Just when you think this is as bad as it gets, you begin to heal. One day at a time. Always.
    The best of health to you.

    Posted on 4.16.10 ·
  79. Fiona Needham wrote:

    Hi Brenda

    As a recent newcomer to your podcasts I just wanted to say how much I love them. Really sorry to hear that you are poorly and hope that you will recover very soon. I have had difficulties in my life in recent years and can so identify with the comfort and meditative healing that knitting brings. Through your podcasts you give me a sense of friendship and a commonality of thought that only us crazy knitters know about! Thank you. My very best wishes. Fiona

    Posted on 4.29.10 ·
  80. Diana wrote:

    I might be late in suggesting, but have you tried massage therapy? From time to time trigger points develop in the shoulder (or muscles surrounding the shoulder) and do in fact contribute to frozen shoulder. Massage is a process, no quick fix, but a qualified therapist might be able to alleviate the pain you are experiencing, which could go a long way toward healing. I hope you find relief soon, and return.

    Posted on 4.29.10 ·
  81. LauraRose wrote:

    I just recently found your podcast, and downloaded about a years worth. The first one I heard was the one with Kim Werrker (sp?) leaving her job because it wasn’t new anymore, and I thought “Oh, no, this Cast-on woman is about to give up!” You didn’t of course (I later realized that I had downloaded a year’s worth so you couldn’t have given up and I needn’t have worried, but I panic easily). I am still only on about March 2009 (you just tried to tap some birch trees), and I hate skipping ahead in pod-casts, because I lose the overall thread. I did however notice that none had downloaded after Jan 2010, and I panicked again “Oh, no, it’s another new year–she has really given up this time!” So, while I am, of course, incredibly sorry that you cannot knit and wish you a full and rapid-as-possible recovery, I am glad in my selfishness, that you haven’t simply decided you hate to pod-cast!
    I say TRAVEL. Ask some nice young person to fetch your bag on and off the train and go visiting and just watch the world go by. Or maybe your fans could pay you to show them around Western Wales (if you still live there–again, I’m only in March 2009!).
    Maybe by the time I catch up to real time, you will be feeling better. Or maybe by then you will come up with a new ways to play and a new plan entirely. Good luck!

    Posted on 5.7.10 ·
  82. Elizabeth wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    So sorry that you’re in so much pain. Believe me, I understand. A few years ago I severed my supraspinatas tendon,(the one that allows you to elevate your arm to the side). The tendon had been damaged for a long time, and I had had chronic and sometimes debilitating pain for years.

    When the tendon actually severed, the docs had trouble diagnosing it because other muscles and tendons had long ago been recruited to help do supraspinatus’ work. After six months of PT and acupuncture I was no better. I finally coughed up the major cash for an MRI and the problem was clear. Major invasive carpentry was needed to reattach the tendon.

    I don’t handle pain meds at all well, and the post-surgical pain was extreme, but a device called the Donjoy Iceman saw me through the ordeal. Maybe it could help with your pain, too.

    The Iceman is a mini cooler into which you put ice and water. The chilled water is circulated, by means of a pump, through a flexible plastic pad that you strap to your shoulder. It is way more comfortable and tolerable than using ice (I used it for hours at a time), and it really helps to reduce inflamation. If you can get your hands on one, I wholeheartedly recommend trying it.

    Take the time that you need to heal well and fully. I wish you the best.

    Posted on 5.12.10 ·
  83. KnitterPam wrote:

    Any updates on the healing process? Any idea if/when you’ll be back? I hope it won’t be the 3-yr hiatus that KnitCast took…pretty please?

    Posted on 5.12.10 ·
  84. T2 wrote:

    The new site looks beautiful. Maybe it’s not that new and I just haven’t been for a visit in a while, but it really looks great.

    If you’re still in search of an upside, maybe this is a chance to explore your water coloring painting more. Any chance of seeing some of those on your blog in the future?

    I hope your body mends soon and you feel better, body and soul.

    Posted on 5.16.10 ·
  85. Margie Foster wrote:

    Reading your description of your shoulder pain reminds me of my father’s shoulder. He had bone spurs that the doctors were able to brake loose while he was put under. After that he was fine, never had the trouble again. Just a thought. Good luck with your shoulder.

    Posted on 5.18.10 ·
  86. Jonathan wrote:

    I don’t really know you from a hill of beans, but through the magic of your podcast, I feel like we’re buddies! I’m so sorry you’re in pain, and that you can’t knit–that sux, bigtime!
    Be strong, stay away from those beckoning pointy sticks. For every stitch you don’t knit, you heal a little more!!!
    Love your podcast, you’re fabulous!
    Thinking of you in Berkeley, CA.

    Posted on 5.19.10 ·
  87. Shirlee wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I have been hearing your podcasts for a couple of years even though I don’t knit much. I miss your wonderful voice and just love listening to you. My favorite podcasts are when you take us along on your walks or trips.

    I was a fellow sufferer of sholder pain a while back and will never forget it. My problem was a frozen shoulder and couldn’t raise my arm more than a few inches from my side. My therapy was NOT FUN, but with exercise, and my therapists help I did recover. I hope you are getting the help you need so you can get back to doing all the things you want.

    You are much loved,

    Almost too hot to knit in Cave Creek, AZ

    P.S. Your painting is super!!! Thanks for sharing it.

    Posted on 5.20.10 ·
  88. Liz wrote:

    I miss your soothing voice and wonderful story-telling approach. I’d love a reminder of which podcast you used to tell the story of the extreme pain in your shoulder and the many proposed solutions you had been trying (I accidentally deleted it). Because of your story, I was able to recognize that the pain in my right shoulder must have been from knitting. So I forced myself to stop. For about 2 weeks. And that was enough. I also forced myself to learn to switch from English to Continental. That was terrific – until my left shoulder rebelled in the exact same way. So I stopped again – almost done with the yarmulkes promised for a wedding (they did get finished). Now I knit a few rows each day and force myself to stop. Sometimes I try to satisfy the need by reading about knitting. Not quite the same now, is it? Saturday I go to learn Portuguese knitting from Andrea Wong, hoping against hope that this will enable me to knit a little more, a little longer. Acceptance is hard to come by. Actually, the whole thing stinks!

    As you can tell, we’re all missing you. Take care of yourself and your shoulder. I hope you find some long term solutions – and that you get to share them with the rest of us who are also searching for them! May you find complete healing.

    Posted on 5.21.10 ·
  89. cherubhmm wrote:

    I hate to tell you but I had exactly this shoulder problem and the exact excrutiating pain a couple of years ago and it lasted about 9months! I couldnt stand, sit, sleep etc and just cried and cried! It came with a nice case of pins and needles which fluctulated on and off down my left arm. Many many ibruprofen and pain killers later it did eventually go (now and again it rears its ugly head!). I did find a couple of things that did ease the pain. Firstly every time I sat or was able I kept my elbow on a parallel with my shoulder using cushions of pillows – elevated. Secondly when I was walking, I held my right shoulder with my left hand. I did find both of these things helped. Good luck..! Ps. Try getting heat bag to put on it to when you go to sleep – it helps!

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  90. Min wrote:

    I so hope you are feeling better. I broke my hand in May and still have to have therapy twice a week and have some issues which don’t want to go away. Imagine – the one thing that would get me through this is knitting and although I can now knit a little – I fatigue really quickly.

    Wishing you a fast recovery. Looking forward to your podcast resuming.

    Posted on 10.13.10 ·

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