Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Healing Hand-Aid

August 15th is National Relaxation Day!

Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.

Here’s a little ball, 
To take away your stress.
To exercise your hands, 
Just grab ahold and press.

It can be used in other ways: 
To release your pain or anger.
Just throw it at the culprit 
That raises up your dander.

~Limerick by Pam Perkins~

We should all take care of our hands.
It doesn’t matter, if we crochet, knit, play the piano or guitar, type on the computer, whatever…  
Our hands can hurt at times.
Arthritis can be very painful, too.
I stretch and compress my hands to exercise the joints and increase flexibility.
One thing that helps is an exercise ball:  It massages and strengthens.

This little ball (filled with stuffing) provides just about the right amount of resistance.
I squeeze it whenever my hands start to hurt.
It fits nicely into my palm, and the tips of my finger can curl around the edges.
And, it is pleasurable to hold…… or throw.

It is a relatively easy pattern.  One can be completed in a couple hours.
It could be made in one color (solid or variegated).
Or, it can have a center section with a lighter color.
It can have an embroidered name or word, or maybe, a short slogan or a design.
Contrasting lines, to define the center, are also quite nice.
Moreover, the colors could be changed with any or all rounds, to use up scrap threads.
This pattern is an updated version of my Personalized Stress Ball.
It is elongated for extra comfort and fit.

So, go ahead and have a ball. 

·         Two strands of Crochet Thread size #10 can be substituted for the Size #3 Crochet Thread.
            It will yield a slightly smaller sized ball, but still very comfortable.
            Crochet thread #10 requires double the total amount needed, when using 2 strands held together.
 For example, if you are making an All-One-Colored Ball, you will need 2 balls: ~ 35 yards each (Total = ~ 70 yards)

·         Optional: The ball could be filled with poly-beads, dried beans (such as lentils) or rice.
     It would produce a different texture for squeezing.  Although, it would not be safe to throw.

·    Rounds are joined.  Be sure to keep the joining-slip-stich tight.
A little tug on the loop after the slip-stitch, will yield a less visible seam.
After the tug, be sure to pull the working yarn back into position for the next chain-1.

For All-One-Colored Ball:
Size #3 Crochet Thread: a total of ~ 35 yards

For Contrasting-Center Personalized Ball:
Main Color: Size #3 Crochet Thread: ~ 28 yards
Light Color: #3 Crochet Thread: ~ 8 yards
Embroidered Word:  Crochet thread #10 (OR Embroidery DMC Thread)
~ 18 to 30 inches [46 to 76 cm] of black (or dark colored) for stitching a word. 
(I used ~ 24” [61 cm] to write “Stress - Ball”)
Defining Lines:  Crochet thread #10 (OR Embroidery DMC Floss)
2 Lines = ~ 2 yards (~ 1 yard single strand for each surface-slip-stitched line around).

Also needed:
2.50 mm / C hook (or 2.25 mm / B hook: If you crochet loosely)
Tapestry Yarn needle
Poly Fiber Fill Stuffing

~ = Approximately
Ch = Chain
FO = Fasten Off
Dec = Decrease by crocheting 2 single crochets as one
Inc = 2 Single Crochets in same stitch
MR = Magic Ring
Rnd(s) = Round(s)
Sc = Single Crochet
Ss = Slip Stitch
St(s) = Stitch(es)

US Terminology

Gauge:           Not Critical
6 sts / 6 rows = ~ 1” (2.5cm)
With #3 Thread: 3 rounds of the pattern = ~ 1” Diameter
Double strand of crochet thread size #10 will be slightly smaller.

Finished Size:       
~ 7.5” (19cm) circumference around the center and ~ 9.5” (24cm) around the length.
          Double strand of crochet thread size #10 will be slightly smaller.

Regarding copyright:
This is a free pattern for your personal use. 
Please, do not sell the pattern or reproduce the text without permission.

Thank-you to Joy Merrill (Joyful Yarns Crochet) and Jackie Ramsdell (read-through testers).

·         If you plan to make the ball in all one color, do not fasten off… just continue with the same color throughout.
·         Work over the tails, to eliminate weaving in later.

Top section:   With 2.5 mm hook and Main Color: size #3 crochet thread
(Or 2 strands of size #10 thread held together)
Rnd 1:  7 Sc in a MR.  Join to the first sc with a ss.   Pull the beg yarn-tail tightly to close the ring.   (7)
Rnd 2:  Ch 1, Inc around.  Join.  (14)
Rnd 3:  Ch 1, (Sc, Inc) around.  Join.  (21)
Rnd 4:  Ch 1, (Sc in 2, Inc) around. Join. (28)
Rnd 5:  Ch 1, (Sc in 3, Inc) around. Join.  (35)
Rnd 6:  Ch 1, (Sc in 4, Inc) around. Join.  (42)
Rnds 7 - 11: Ch 1, Sc in each st around. Join.  (Five rounds of 42 sc)  
If you plan to personalize the ball with a word or design, FO Main Color at end of Rnd 11.
If not, just continue with same color throughout.

Middle section:   Join Light Color in the first st.  
Rnds 12 - 15: Ch 1, Sc in each st around.  Join.  (Four rounds of 42 sc)
FO light color at the end of Rnd 15. 

Bottom section:  Join Main Color in first st. 
Rnd 16:  Ch 1, Sc in each st around.  Join. (42) 

After round 16, it is a good time to add the defining lines and embroider the name, word or design.
Note: Backstitching the defining lines and words can be done after the ball is completed, if you prefer.
But, I find that it is a bit easier to stitch, and also to secure and weave in the ends now.

A word or phrase, that is 13 letters or less, can fit (with a space between).
To stitch a word, place a safety pin (or stitch marker) on the working loop to secure it.
Be sure to keep the working thread out of the way, while stitching the name and lines.

Using a single strand of dark or contrasting crochet thread #10, stitch the name in block letters:
2 sts wide by 2 sts high (See graph).
You can center the word, so the joined-stitch will be in the back.

Defining lines between the color changes: see photos below.

·         Using a 2.5mm hook and a single strand of Crochet Tread size #10 (or a 6 strand Embroidery DMC Floss).
·         Pull up a loop from the inside, between rounds 6 and 7 (at the bottom mid-section).
·         Surface-crochet slip-stitching around.
·         When you reach the end, cut the yarn and pull it to the inside.
·         To secure, it can be tied to the beginning yarn.  (The knot will be hidden on the inside of the ball).
·         Repeat for another line, between rounds 11 and 12 (at the top mid-section).

Rnds 17 - 21: Ch 1, Sc in each st around.  Join.   (Five rounds of 42 sc)
Rnd 22: Ch 1, (Sc in 4, Dec) around. Join.   (35)
Rnd 23: Ch 1, (Sc in 3, Dec) around. Join.   (28)
Rnd 24: Ch 1, (Sc in 2, Dec) around. Join.  (21)
Stuff snugly.  

Rnd 25: Ch 1, (Sc, Dec) around. Join.  (14)
Rnd 26: Ch1, Dec around. Join.
Ch 1, and FO with ~ 6” (15 cm) to sew closed.  (7) 
Weave through last 7 sts.  Secure and weave in ends.      

© 2015 GPC P Perkins