TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Does your craft or computer bother you?

If you are reading this, most likely you have bloggeritis, fiberitis, craftitis, or some other affliction related to what you make or what you read. Too many hours doing the same thing? It will come back and hit us with a vengeance at some time in our lives.

Several years ago, I was sitting at my sewing machine, sewing away at something or other. I had to get up to go to the bathroom, but when I tried to get up, I couldn't feel my legs. Well, I could feel them, but had no strength in them. "Huh," I thought to myself. "I'll just keep sewing and see if it goes away." It didn't. I finally had to pee so badly that I threw myself on to the floor and crawled to the toilet. I was able to pull myself up to a 90 degree angle (which was fine for driving) and drove myself to a chiropractor. I had a pinched nerve and there was nothing to be done but take some ibuprofin and sleep.

It went away. But, other ailments have come and gone. I've had bouts with carpal tunnel. Once it was so bad I felt like a truck had run over my arm. I found that braces help, taking vitamin supplements, and breaking the day into different activities. Sit in the morning (blog, shipping, listings, etc), do something physical in the afternoons (clean, mow the lawn, photograph product), then sit again at night (answer e-mails, research, listings, etc.). I tore my meniscus in my knee two years ago (it's still torn- no health insurance), gained 20 pounds, and was turning into a total blob. So, I had to do something! I've been seeing Dr. Christi Bonds who is treating me with acupuncture and supplements and I do feel a lot better. And, I started swimming almost daily. Still pretty crooked, but improving all the time. See me in the second lane here:

Just kidding! I am improving, but now my shoulders hurt, too. I've been watching the Olympics a bit and find it so interesting how the athlete's bodies become shaped to their specific skill. And, so do ours. Artists and crafters who spend hours and hours creating, often put themselves in bizarre positions that will eventually make your body scream. (Especially after 40. Just wait, you young whipper-snappers! It will happen to you, too.)

I know I am not alone in this. I have a knitter friend who had surgery on both hands last year for carpal tunnel. She's back to knitting like a maniac. There are the injuries we inflict on ourselves from too much sitting, crouching or standing, and then others that attack us and force us to develop a new strategy in order to keep going. One friend just had a bone marrow transplant, another has terminal cancer (and she just keeps producing!), another has ms, and the list just keeps growing.

Then there is the addiction side to what we do. Two women have mentioned (via e-mail) this past week that their husbands are worried about the time they spend online. I know I often have to force myself to step away. What would be the term? Cyberholic? It's becoming a serious social problem:

And, as I've been trying to learn the ins and outs of blogging, of attracting new readers, of understanding all the networks you have to plug into to get the word out about your blog or your online business, I am overwhelmed by the scope of it. Some of the tools do help decrease one's online time. I now RSS sites I like and can catch up quickly on new posts or articles. But, I recognize that I also spend a lot of dead time on the computer, just kind of staring into cyber space, thinking or not being productive. Meanwhile, the house becomes a total pig sty and I haven't done any sewing for months. This little video may seem extreme, but captured the level of emotional frustration I sometimes feel towards my computer:

How about you? Does this sound familiar? Do you have some tips that can help the rest of us become healthier in how we craft and with how we relate to cyber space? Would love to hear them!


A little bit later: I walked away (to do some vacuuming!!) when it occurred to me that I left out an important point in this post. There are always two sides to a coin, right? Well, the other side of this one is that both crafting and cyber "living" do offer an alternative for people who have mobility problems or who live in isolated areas. I don't think I realized how hard it would be to move to a small town in Kentucky where good jobs are scarce, especially if you have only had your own business for the last twenty years. It's tough in Chicago, too, but there are many more options, especially for my chef husband who is still there. So, for me, the internet has also been my salvation in many ways, both in earning a living and in having social connections with people. (I do miss Chicago's diversity!)

I have seen many, many references on Etsy's forums of other artists who have disabilities or who live in remote places and really depend on their online connections for income and friendships. So, to put things into perspective, the internet is a great tool. Our crafting abilities are wonderful. The question, then, is how do we keep things balanced so that our bodies and minds stay healthy, right?


  1. LOL Love this post. I suppose all of us get in a rut. It's great that you are swimming everyday. I am considering doing the same thing - especially once winter begins - there is an indoor pool nearby and it would be a great way to beat the winter blues. I have your last video on my desk top at work - captures the sentiment of too many hours at a computer!

  2. I was nervous about posting that clip because it's so bloody, but sometimes that is how I feel when I've been on the computer too long. Your blog is beautiful!

  3. I too spend WAYYYY too much time on the puter. I love to create and once I can get myself away from the puter I get a lot done. Unfortunately due to my love of altering any and everything, knitting, sewing, hand sewing, and more I have gone through hand surgery, shoulder surgery (can't blame that on my creating or putering), have neck pain and back pain that keep me from doing it all too long. I will hit 60 YIKES, in November (why do I still feel like I am in my 20's????) I love to look at others blogs that create. I have developed wonderful friends through cyberspace and wouldn't change it for anything.

  4. You touched on the solution - and the key to everything is balance. Sure spending time on the internet is fun, as is creating, but once in a while we have to get up and vacuum.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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