Bright shawls to wear during cancer treatment, blankets to swaddle new babies with, and hats to keep little ones warm — these are just a few of the projects I’ve made in the past year. In my opinion, the best gifts are knitted or crocheted, made with love, and keep you warm.
Handmade gifts are beautiful gestures of love toward those going through difficult times. Young people going through diagnoses of juvenile arthritis or facing flares may feel extra appreciative of receiving a handmade gift, especially since many of their struggles often are invisible. Knowing someone saw that pain and thought of them is touching.
There are lots of ways to help kids with JA feel better with crocheted or knitted items. Feeling cold can cause people to tense up, making stiff and painful joints feel worse. Or, you could make something that helps take the weight off their shoulders — literally. If you want to make a gift for a loved one with JA, consider one of the following items.
Hats and mittens
A classic! Who doesn’t love getting new hats and mittens during the chilly seasons? A matching set in a favorite color or material is always appreciated.
Mittens have a few advantages over gloves for kids with JA, because it’s less painful than putting each finger in a sleeve. Plus, you can easily slip in a small hot pack for extra warmth.
I find my fingers get quite cold, even while keeping busy writing or drawing indoors. While I was in school, I frequently wore fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm and keep my fingers from feeling too stiff. These are perfect for warmish days and when it’s a little chilly inside.
The hottest accessory for 2020 I’ve seen circling around in my crocheting and knitting groups are pocket shawls! They’re long scarves with pockets at each end. They’re an adorable accessory that can keep your hands warm, and they’re especially helpful for girls and young women who often struggle to find cute, warm clothes with pockets big enough for the hands.
Plush socks and slippers
Crafter confession: I hate making socks and slippers. The patterns can be quite complicated, plus you have to make two similarly-sized items. Talk about pressure. But I love receiving soft socks and slippers!
Because I deal with enthesitis due to my juvenile-onset psoriatic arthritis, my heels can become quite swollen at times and cause pain when I walk. Wearing slippers with a nice thick sole or socks that can cushion my feet in my shoes has saved my feet from a lot of pain over the years.
Purses and backpacks
I find it pretty painful to have to carry things around. My purse and backpack put a lot of pressure on my back and shoulders and easily aggravate my joints (even when they have a small load). And on some days, my hands don’t cooperate, so I find it difficult or painful to hold my phone or carry a wristlet. Having a soft, lightweight bag to throw small necessities in can be helpful.
It’s essential to ask your loved one what style they prefer, as making a wristlet for someone with wrists that are painful to the touch makes no sense. But regardless, something with a nice, thick strap is perfect since the large width will distribute the weight more evenly. It may be more helpful to have a zipper or magnet closure than snaps or buttons.
Water bottle holder
Kids with JA may have two favorite bottles: a hot water bottle to put on stiff joints and a regular water bottle to stay hydrated (essential with some JA treatments) and to take medication. Creating a cozy for either one is a fun way to personalize a tool they use frequently.
I imagine snuggling up to a hot water bottle in a cozy made of plush, velvety yarn would feel like pure heaven. And having a fun water bottle cover is a cool way to accessorize. Bonus points if you add a thick strap to make it easier to carry!
You can’t go wrong with handmade gifts
While I hope my suggestions are helpful, remember to put a lot of thought into what the receiver would appreciate the most. For a young child, that might be a cozy teddy bear to cuddle up with. For someone who uses a wheelchair, it may be a lap blanket to keep them warm while they’re out and about. Whatever you choose to make, I’m sure it will be received with lots of love and appreciation.
And remember, it’s the thought that counts. So often, those with chronic pain suffer in silence and feel isolated. Receiving a gift that was created with thought and love is heartwarming and healing for someone with JA.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.
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