Since the weather has warmed up, I've been making a lot of knitted and crocheted jewelry. It's important when doing this work to be sure to use different thicknesses of yarn and work in different gauges. If you keep on making really tightly knitted or crocheted fine jewelry using tiny needles or hooks, you are eventually going to get hand problems.
Unfortunately, I speak from experience as a person who's had multiple rounds of physical therapy from repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and most recently DeQuervain's Syndrome (a new one that causes excruciating pain in the wrist). I've been able to conquer them all and have two articles on my website -- KnittingGuru.com -- that deal with these problems. If you're having hand pain, I hope you'll take a look at these -- Ergonomics for Knitters (or Crocheters) and Exercises for Knitters (or crocheters)
You all know about exercises to loosen up your hands, but you may not have heard about ergonomics which is setting up your work to avoid pain in the first place. The way you hold your yarn and needles (or hooks) will influence how your body reacts to hours of knitting and crocheting. Your posture when working and the kind of chair you sit in are also important.
In addition to the ergonomics and exercises, I've found it important to vary gauge so that you go from using tiny needles and hooks to large ones, and from using thin threads to larger yarns. The way you hold a small crochet hook is very different from the way you hold a large one. The tightness of the work will also affect your hands, so try to vary between tight knitting and crochet and looser work.
For example, I crocheted this Hyacinth Ruffle Choker with a tiny
vintage steel hook and yarn not much thicker than sewing thread. It took hours of tight work. When I finished, I really needed a rest.
The next piece I worked on -- Ocean Fantasy Lariat -- is crocheted in
a much larger scale using cotton worsted weight yarn. It's very long so it took awhile, but it was much easier on my hands than the Hyacinth.
Another recent piece is my Sweetpea Necklace. It's made with thread in between the two others, about fingering yarn weight. The necklace is
crocheted over a metal base and the sweetpea needed to be worked tightly so this was hard on the hands too.
As you can see nature, and especially flowers, have a big influence on my work. So guess what I love to do when I'm not knitting or crocheting? Gardening! This is not kind to the hands either. I've been out of physical therapy for my hands for many months now.
WISH ME LUCK!!!