Today I received an email from an anonymous reader asking the question "Do you know much about Aunt Becky?" Well, sometimes my mind works in a somewhat sarcastic way, so my first thought was......well, no, what about her and who is she? Forgive me. After reading the whole email, I realized this was from a terrific person who was just interested in finding help with hand-quilting. I hate to admit it, but I am not "up" on all the latest quilting tools. I've been called archaic and a dinosaur which should tell you that I quilt "the old fashioned way." I'm pretty logical, though, and figured "Aunt Becky" was some kind of new tool or other. So I set out to find out about it. I found it is a quilting tool that you use in your off hand......the one under the quilt that you often stab with the needle. Evidently you push up on it while quilting and when the needle comes in contact with it, you then know to return to the surface of the quilt with your needle-thereby saving your fingers from the wear and tear of all those little pricks.
My anonymous reader also expressed an interest in something "joint friendly." I have not used an Aunt Becky tool, however, in times past, I have used other inventions that accomplish the same type thing. And, long ago, quilters used the bowl of a spoon for the same purpose. Being "gadgetry challenged," none of these have ever been of much use to me, but I understand they have helped other people. I am not sure there is any such thing (yet) that is joint friendly, after all - you still have to hold whatever tool you use in your hand and over time....just holding something can hurt. I, myself, have arthritis in my hands and I am being serious here....my take on it is to just keep on keeping on. Even when it hurts. My mother-in-law was told many years ago (when she became aware that she had arthritis in her hands) to "use them or lose them." She quit using them and later, could not use them, just as predicted. So, since I love to hand quilt.....I keep on stitching just like I always have, even when it hurts. Consequently, I quilt for shorter periods of time, but I do eventually finish a quilt. I do use Handeze Therapeutic Gloves (only on my right hand) when I am quilting, embroidering or doing other hand sewing...they really help. My real advice is this...try all the gadgets to see if they help you. What helps one person, fails to help another. It's personal. And, when you find something that helps...stick with it. The important thing is to keep making those quilts that you are called to make and ENJOY it. And, my best advice for hand care when quilting.......wash dishes. No kidding. The hot water not only warms your hands.....but it also keeps your fingers from getting too caloused. It's therapeutic! So, Anonymous, try one of those Aunt Becky tools. I hope it helps you. Later, show me your quilt! Pat