PlanetJune Craft Blog

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finger protector for crocheters (or knitters)

When I was writing my new book, I had a lot of project samples to crochet in a short period of time, and that’s pretty hard on the hands.

my crocheting style
This is how I crochet (and this is my meerkat amigurumi, not a book project!)

When I’ve been crocheting for a while, the yarn starts to wear a groove in my forefinger as it rubs over it, and, if I keep going, my finger gets red and sore, and my skin condition gets aggravated. A chafed finger really isn’t something you want to see in close-up book tutorial photos, so I needed a solution to protect my finger.

chafed finger
Groovy (and not in a good way) – this is after just a few minutes of fast amigurumi crocheting

First I tried crocheting a finger sleeve, which worked really well for comfort and maintaining tension, but it looked clunky, and after a few minutes of use it began to spin around on my finger and wouldn’t hold in place. I also tried using plastic and metal yarn guides (meant for stranding multiple colours of yarn) which stopped the rubbing, but I found they messed with my tension.

Other suggestions from my ever-helpful Ravelry group members included finger cots, taping the finger, or wrapping paper towel around the finger and then taping over that.

In the end I found a very simple solution that works for me: I sewed a very basic finger sleeve from a smooth, stretchy, spandex-blend fabric. This fabric doesn’t fray, so all I needed was one row of stitching to turn a small rectangle of fabric into a tube that fits tightly over my finger.

finger sleeve
It’s not pretty, but it works

When I wear it, my yarn runs smoothly over the fabric and it doesn’t affect my crocheting tension. The tube did stretch a bit after a few days of hard use and became too loose to be effective, but I just stitched another seam slightly further in (thanks to Kris for that suggestion) and it hasn’t stretched further since. The best part is it only takes a tiny scrap of a smooth stretch fabric, and you can customise it to exactly fit whichever part of your finger gets rubbed or irritated by your yarn.

I keep the seam on the outside so it doesn’t dig into my finger, but rotate the sleeve on my finger so the seam doesn’t touch the yarn. Sometimes a simple solution is best: this little tube took mere minutes to make but has already saved me a lot of discomfort as I worked on all my book projects.

I still use my finger sleeve when I have a heavy crocheting session or use yarn that chafes, and I think I’ll whip up another half dozen or so – the biggest problem with finger sleeves is that they seem as prone as yarn needles to being mislaid! If I have a few handy, I’ll be able to keep one in every project bag.

finger sleeve
Problem solved!

If you’d like to try making a finger sleeve, look for a smooth fabric with spandex/lycra so it’s nice and stretchy. Or, if you don’t want to spend money when you only need a tiny scrap of fabric, I bet a piece snipped from an old swimsuit would work perfectly…

My starting fabric rectangle was 4cm long by 6cm around (about 1½ by 2⅜”) but I have small fingers, so you may want a longer and/or wider tube. Just measure your finger and remember to add a little extra width for the seam allowance (but not too much, as you need a tight fit so it won’t slip). If it’s too loose, just sew another seam to make the tube slightly narrower, as I did.

Do you have problems with yarn chafing your finger when you crochet or knit? Please share what works for you in the comments!

22 Comments »

  1. Patti S said

    Wonderful idea! My problem is the tip of my middle finger gets tender from the hook poking thru to receive the YO. I have tried a leather finger tip protector, but it is too bulky and messes up my “flow”. Any ideas? And thanks again for your postings, very, very helpful!

    • June said

      Hmm, do you mean you ‘stab’ your fingertip with the tip of the hook with each stitch? I haven’t experienced that or heard of anyone with a similar problem… Covering your fingertip with anything would make it much more difficult to crochet, because you’d lose the feedback from the nerve endings in your fingertip – I’m not surprised the leather protector messed up your flow.

      All I can suggest is that a hook with a less pointy (more rounded) tip may help. Does anyone else have any ideas for Patti?

      • Miriam said

        It’s funny – I have the same problem as Patti and had never heard of anyone getting a groove in or irritation to their skin from the yarn. My tension must be much looser and yet I think of myself as a tight knitter/crocheter. My skin is very smooth and soft and I get blisters at the drop of a hat, too.

        But back to the “stabbing” problem. I’m left handed and my left index finger has gotten quite sensitive lately – it feels over-used. I noticed that I rub my crochet hook past it when pushing through a stitch in my work. I do the same thing with knitting needles but to a different finger. Unfortunately using the mouse wheel at work further aggravates my left index finger.

        My only solution has been to relax my crochet/knit style. It doesn’t seem to have slowed me down much, either. I just keep reminding myself to not worry so much about going through the wrong stitch (crochet is SO easy to rip out!) or dropping a knit stitch. From my experience, you don’t need to have your finger so close to the stitch you’re working in that your hook hits/rubs. Try gripping a little distance away.

        Sorry I don’t have any other suggestions! I hope Patti finds something that works for her!

        • June said

          Well, isn’t that funny, Miriam?! I was about to suggest that my problem may be related to the tight tension you need for amigurumi, but then I realised there are no amigurumi projects in my book, and I definitely still had the same problem, so we can scratch that theory. It’s so interesting that we can all form the same stitches when we use such different hand positions and motions to form them – crochet certainly is fascinating :)

      • Carrera said

        I’ve recently started a filet crochet pattern and am using a size 9 steel hook. My finger is so sore from stabbing it with the little pointy hook. I tried band aids and a crochet sleeve won’t work because hook just goes right through. I feel like a rubber sleeve – kinda like the grip on ink pens – but to fit around the finger below the knuckle would be great. Haven’t came up with a solution or product yet

    • Margaret said

      This is the exact problem I have. I’d be interested to know if anyone has a solution (beyond use a rubber thimble…)

  2. Joy said

    Great idea! Maybe this will help somebody too: I have atopic eczema which means that my hands – especially knuckles – often split or crack open, or I get scabby, rough patches or worse still, open sores. Luckily I am quite well at the moment (worse in winter) but I often wear a stretch satin glove to crochet if my hands are poorly and “catchy”. I cut the finger ends off the glove(s) so that I can still “feel”. I find them a great help and the yarn flows quite smoothly over the glove(s).

    • June said

      That’s a great suggestion, Joy – thank you. (My own eczema manifests differently, but I moisturise my hands countless times a day and use steroid cream at the first hint of a problem, to try to keep them looking decent for my pattern/tutorial photos!)

  3. Jana said

    I must not crochet enough! I never have this problem! LOL! I DO however have problems with stiffness and soreness in my hands. I have to take frequent breaks to stretch them. After a marathon crochet session on Sunday, I am now having pain in my RIGHT wrist that is mirroring the same I had in the left, which I had surgery on to fix. :(
    On a good note-I now need to make a lion for one of my students! I showed her the pic from the pattern and she loves it! I have so many of your patterns, that I get excited when I get to make one I haven’t made yet!
    Thank you so much for all of your wonderful tutorials and practical ideas!

    • June said

      Uh-oh, Jana, that doesn’t sound good :( I’ve just made a note to write another post here to share how I solved my wrist problems without surgery – I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you, but it couldn’t hurt to try and see if it helps you too. (And you’re very welcome!)

      • Barbara said

        How do you resolve the wrist problem. I broke my wrist 3 years ago and this is what I fear.

  4. Mike Burton said

    I don’t usually have this problem… until I picked up some cheap yarn at a thrift store. It was two balls, each 800 yards, of polypropylene yarn. It was actually two placement kits that made 4 placemats each. Got ‘em for $3 each. Definitely NOT worth the aggravation. It’s like pulling barbed wire across my finger. Never going to use this stuff ever again (as soon as the gigantic doily I’m making is finished.

    • June said

      Ouch! It’s definitely worse with some yarns than others – unmercerised cotton and cotton/linen blends feel almost like rope burns across my finger.

  5. lesley said

    i am new to crochet – currently trying to teach myself – and notice already that my middle finger on the side of the nail bed gets very sore! i am glad to know i am not the only one – i thought i was doing it wrong!

    • June said

      Don’t worry, Lesley, there’s no right or wrong way to hold your hook and yarn! We all do it differently and the ‘best’ way for you is whatever is most comfortable – you may be able to experiment and find a finger position or a way to wrap the yarn over your fingers that feels better to you. Remembering to take breaks and put the yarn and hook down for a while helps too :)

  6. Rachel said

    I have the exact same problem when I knit continental!! Funny you should mention it aggravating a skin condition, because recently I’ve dealt with two cases of dyshidrotic eczema. I’ve never had this before, but it appeared very shortly after I began knitting with wool for the first time. It only appears on my left index finger, where I tension my yarn. I can’t shake the feeling that the knitting and the eczema are related, even though I really hope that isn’t the case. My skin is clear for now, so when I resume knitting I think I’ll try to prevent this chafing like you did.

    • June said

      That’s interesting, Rachel – I’ve had that a few times on my index fingers too, since my skin problems developed. I’ll pay more attention to which yarns I’m using if it recurs… maybe we’ll make a medical discovery! I’d also recommend Gloves In A Bottle for preventing irritation from yarn fibres you’re sensitive to, although it doesn’t help against chafing.

    • Margaret said

      Are you perhaps allergic to wool? if one can be allergic to cat or dog or rodents, could one not be allergic to wool?More likely it’s simply something about the texture of wool that just aggravates your skin.

  7. PatC said

    I had a similar issue with grooves. I cut the fingers off an odd pair of spandex gloves (isotoner like) & used that. I actually have a permanent groove in my finger from a particularly irritating yarn blend! Nice to know I’m not alone…

  8. I love your blog and this unique idea was an answer to my prayer. I am an avid crochet and found that especially when using cotton yarn or making large blankets my forefinger really gets chafed. I will definitely make one of these and share your blog with your great idea to my friends.
    (Gainesville, FL, USA)

  9. MsKat said

    If cotton spandex still has too much drag for some, try swimsuit fabric, nylon spandex. More slippery, less friction. Sidenote: years ago I fractured a toe, and the only treatment is to tape it to other toes. I made a couple little sleeves similar to this to use in place of tape, with polar fleece. 2 layers for firmness. Worked wonders, it healed flawlessly. Made 2 so I could wash one while I wore the other. Sometimes the simplest of things, like a little fabric tube, can be the biggest lifesavers!

  10. Cheryl said

    I suffer from arthritis and De Quervain’s disease at the base of my left thumb which holds the fabric as I crochet. I am right handed. The pain from holding or “pinching” the fabric means I cannot crochet for very long. I even tried to hold the fabric between my pointer and middle fingers! But that did not work for long. I would really appreciate any suggestions. I’ve been searching for solutions. Thanks!

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    June Gilbank
    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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