How Important are your hands and Wrists?

As a milliner, how often do you think of the importance of your hands and wrists?   Of course, we all know that we need strong hands to block, but during your typical daily activities how often do you think, "I better not do that, I could hurt my hands or wrists?"  If you are anything like me, you cut, chop, pull, push, and generally use and abuse your hands, wrists, arms, and yes, even your ribs. all day, every day.  That is until that fateful day.

Who knew a regular daily activity like a simple bike ride would have such an impact on my hat making?  With five custom orders waiting, I met my bike riding partner a month ago to  enjoy our regular bike ride.  About 10 miles later, my hat making came to a screeching halt, when a field tractor failed to stop at a crossing, my front bike tire locked up, and I landed on both hands with fists gripped around the handle bars.  The good news was that I have really strong arms which helped keep me from landing on my face.  The bad news was that both wrists were in splints and I had a torn muscle over my bruised ribs.  Let me tell you, wrecking a bike at 52 is nothing like wrecking a bike at 25.

Staring at my splints I wondered how on earth I was going to complete my custom orders.  I couldn't even type, let alone stitch and block. Breathing was a whole other challenge Fortunately, my clients were VERY understanding, and willing to wait.  A month later my ribs are healed but, my wrists are still sore and weak. Obviously, I couldn't wait for my wrists to heal completely.  I actually have found that used correctly, wrist splints can allow you to block felt and straw, even when you can't pick up a jug of milk.  Also, crocheting is great for rehabilitating your wrists.  The rhythmic wrist action helps to pop the small bones in your hands and wrists back into place.  It also provides you with a number of crocheted cloches to sell. 

I am just now able to block more than one felt or straw in a day, and feel fortunate that I didn't have any more custom orders waiting, when I had my accident.   I will, of course, go back to riding my bike as soon as I replace my poor bent bike, but it does make me pause and consider how often milliners consider how important it is to protect their hands, wrists, arms, and ribs are to their trade.

Views: 192

Elaine Mergard

Ohh Bridget - had missed you online but presumed you must have been soo busy - this is awful . Do not know how I would have coped

Yes our hands & wrists are vital tools. My nail length tells how busy I am. I have always feared carpel tunnel  as my mum had it from too much cake icing. Pulling felts stretches my wrists so I do not do any for wholesale market anymore. On my morning walk I always stretch my hands as I walk as an old lady crippled with arthritus told me to do that otherwise I will have problems but so far @ 67yrs no problems. I love crocheting also my dream once I retire!! Look forward to seeing your crocheted cloches

Hugs & get better ASAP- Luv E

Dianne Graham

Bridget, how devastating, so glad you are on the mend, Our hands are so very important. kind of like a surgeons, we can't work if our hands can't do the job. I've known of surgeons that actually insure their hands because that is their livelihood. Good luck to you, hope to see your latest creations soon!

Bridget Early

Elaine, I have definitely been MIA for a while.  It took awhile to heal, and then a bit more to get caught up on orders. It takes much longer to complete a hat, with sore, weak wrists. The force of the impact was also so great that I just have not felt right. Fortunately, the orders that had to wait were from clients who had experienced health issues, or were waiting for hats, that other milliners did not want to attempt.  My clients either had an understanding of what I was going through, or were just happy someone would help them with their special needs. They could not have been more understanding! The first thing out of my mouth once I picked myself up and realized how badly I was hurt, was, "Dear God, I have 5 custom orders waiting on me."

I have already developed carpal tunnel which is magnified by hypothyroidism, so I constantly stretch my wrists as well--too many years as a writer.  Nail length? What nails? LOL Another good sign for me is how scared up my left thumb is from needle jabs.  I haven't decided if this is a personal problem, or if other milliners are constantly jabbing their thumbs.  Maybe I just don't pay close enough attention, as I stitch very quickly.

Dianne, I thought the same thing about insuring hands!  I wondered whether famous milliners ever insured their hands. I could have avoided most of the damage to my hands, had I tucked and rolled, but couldn't take the chance of rolling in front of the tractor, so my hands/wrists took the beating.

I had to laugh when this lovely young nurse at the emergency room said, "It's great that you can still ride like this at your.. . . . . . . .," and stopped.  LOL I took the compliment as she meant it.


I sympathize. Being the same age, I'm quite glad I can't actually ride a push bike, ouch! Hoping you heal fast and get better soon!

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