Friday, December 19, 2008

"My finger hurts from pushing back the left needle tip"

Have you ever given yourself a sore fingertip from pushing back the pointed end of the left knitting needle to bring up the new stitches to be knit? Many knitters use their right forefinger to push back the tip of the left needle (the one with the stitches about to be knit) as a way of delivering fresh stitches to the left needle tip. Some have gone so far as to split the skin of their right forefinger from the repeated jabs.

Even if the problem doesn't extend as far as an actual wound, "pushers" are pretty much prevented from using the really really pointy needles that can make some knitting so much easier (p5tog, anyone?)

So, for all the sore-fingered pushers, here is a little trick: use the barrel of the opposite needle to push back the needle tip. Here's how in three illustrated steps

1. (below) Pinch the right needle firmly (pinch indicated by light brown area)

2. (below) Slide the left needle between the pinching fingers until the tip of the left needle touches the barrel of the right needle.

3. Bracing the left needle tip against the barrel of the right needle, pinch the left needle AND the stitches you want to slide with your left fingers (pinch indicated by light brown area) and push along the needle so the stitches slide towards the left needle tip. The left needle point won't go skidding off the barrel of the right needle, because the right fingers prevent that. Note that the right fingers aren't actually holding the left needle at all--they are only guiding the left needle while pinching the right needle.

You have been reading TECHknitting on "how to prevent a sore finger when knitting"


Blogger Bonnie said...

Brilliant! Thank you!

December 19, 2008 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger TopHat said...

I have that problem all the time, especially when I need to knit tightly. Thanks for this

December 19, 2008 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Jerry & Maxy said...

Genius!!! Thank you!

December 19, 2008 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

It seems so obvious now... but yet, it never occurred to me. My poor finger gives thanks for your genius!

December 19, 2008 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Hmm.. maybe that's why Mum's a slow knitter... I'm not sure if she's a 'pusher' or ... Must get her to read this post. Thanks for sharing :)

December 19, 2008 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger rozaroni said...

My calloused right fingertip thanks you.

December 19, 2008 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just use a thimble on either my index or middle finger. A little clunky at first, but you get used to it.

December 19, 2008 at 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Debra in NC said...

Ok, I must be weird! I just split the skin on my LEFT thumb (actually, I literally poked the knitting needle into the skin) a few days ago while I was knitting a pair of fingerless mittens. Here's how I did it: When I purl, I use my left thumb to "push" the tip of my right needle down and through the stitch.

Got a fix for this? TIA!

December 19, 2008 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hello Debra. I can't imagine using the opposite needle to push in this circumstance--I think you have to get some moleskin--a sticky pad product which you can trim to size and put over the place where you'll be pushing, so then you'll be pushing down the right needle tip with a little cushioned pad on the tip of your left thumb.

If you cut and paste this URL into your browser, you'll see some moleskin:

December 19, 2008 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

I'll join the chorus -- brilliant! I've been trying to figure out ways around pushing, now I have a way to keep pushing :-) whew!

December 19, 2008 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Beth Gray said...

Thank you, your timing is perfect as I already have very sore fingers from my Christmas knitting!

December 19, 2008 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Sorka said...

That's odd I always get a callous on the left index finger.. Though I push with both fingers.. interesting! It only happens when I am 'pushing' to get a project done for a deadline!

December 19, 2008 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Angeluna said...

Such a clever girl! Thanks.

December 20, 2008 at 2:06 AM  
OpenID mrsfife said...

I use my left forefinger to push the right needle back through the stitch (yes, I'm a thrower as well as a pusher). I've never had this particular problem, though, because I tend to take my hands off and push the stitches forward. No wonder I'm slow.

December 20, 2008 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Erron said...

I caught this blog by accident when I saw this thread little lights started flashing in my head. I have that problem! I can't use a thimble because I use my right index finger to manipulate the feeder yarn so I would use flexible medical tape to tape a dime just below my finger pad thus still allowing me to manipulate the yarn, but save my poor finger. I have a friend who thinks this is a riot! I never thought to use the other needle. I'm all over it!!!

January 5, 2009 at 12:15 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

I started out using a Band-Aid on my pusher finger, then switched to a "rubber finger" from the office supply store. May try the dime idea next. Thanks

January 23, 2009 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger kaykatrn said...

Yay! So intuitive! I knit much more evenly now!

January 24, 2009 at 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

DEBRA: Try pushing on the side of the needle (where it tapers to a point, not the straight part) with your thumb, rather than directly on the point. I do this when my thumb gets sore; should do it all the time!

TECHKNITTING: This is how I push: After forming the knit stitch but before taking it off the left needle, I pinch the two needles together with my right thumb and index finger and push the stitches on the left needle with my left hand.

January 27, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Good idea! I was having this problem this summer.

February 1, 2009 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Rudegirlalexis said...

Thanks so much! I've been knitting all day and my poor finger aches! I will certainly try this next time I knit!

January 21, 2010 at 9:01 PM  
OpenID stephcuddles said...

boy do i feel stupid :D it's so simple! Haha thanks :)

July 14, 2010 at 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make darn sure you don't start nudging the stitches on the left needle along with your left thumb, otherwise you are going to have to try explaining to your doctor why there is no cartilage left in your bottom thumb joint. Ouchie! Didn't even realize what I was doing until I watched some youtube videos of others knitting.

January 22, 2011 at 2:17 AM  
Blogger Lex Starwalker said...

Thank you! You've saved my finger's life!

October 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Random Places Kids Sleep said...

Oh my gosh I love you! My finger is bleeding, and when it hurt too much to push using my finger tip, I started pushing with the side of my finger. My knitpicks are pretty sharp. Thank you for posting this!

October 29, 2011 at 2:27 AM  
Anonymous Matilda said...

Thak you for this tip! I've often had to pause my knitting for several days because of the sores on my thumb from pushing down the needle.

December 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Stef said...

You can find very flexible, lightweight leather thimbles with a metal plate in the tip, on sewing sites. I put a small amount of rubber cement inside to keep them on. I've only had to do that once per thimble. Sometimes I forget I have them on, they are so comfortable. I don't use them for knitting, but they'd work.

These are my favorites for sewing; however, the one right below might work better for capturing knitting needles--

another type--

or possibly a quilter's thimble--

or even if you want to make one--

May 19, 2012 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger eStitched at eStitches said...

I was suffering from this last night. it felt like my finger would split in half. I can't thank you enough for posting this - even if I am a little late to the party.

September 25, 2012 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Jesslyn said...

Oh my goodness. After years of crocheting, I just learned how to knit and yes, my right finger is sore after a few rows! I love your site and am working through it systematically post by post. You are so great for sharing all this knowledge. Would love to learn how to NOT push the needle back.

March 7, 2013 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous marjorie said...

I have split the skin on my right hand finger and thumb they are so sore. i was thinking about cutting the finger and thumb off some rubber gloves, perhaps that will help. dont want to give it up, just getting back into knitting and crochet after a very long time off because of illness, once ive susted out a pattern i find it very theraputic sitting in the garden with the sun shinning the birds singing and my four cats playing, nothing better.

May 3, 2013 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too have this problem particularly when using small lace needles. I've watched others knit who don't have to push off the stitch, it looks to me that they are knitting very loose. I've tried to go that route, but it's hard. I tried using the other needle as you've suggested - not very successfully. Now I'll try the flexible thimble. I love your site and your extremely helpful instructions. Thanks,Linda.

May 5, 2013 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Babbs Hollywood said...

Thanks! I was looking for a knitting "thimble" and found this instead! Why didn't I figure this out sooner?!

January 31, 2015 at 12:49 PM  

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