Knitting and Crochet
If you're taking up knitting again after losing your vision, be sure to give yourself time to practice and learn to use feedback from your sense of touch. Start slowly with simple items and move on to more difficult projects as your confidence builds. You'll get there!
Getting Started and Organizing Your Work Area
- Check the lighting. If you have low vision, make sure that the lighting in your work area provides sufficient illumination. You can read more about lighting at Home Modifications. A lamp with an adjustable flex-arm or gooseneck is usually a good choice because you can adjust the direction of the light as needed. Some lamps also have built in magnifiers.
- Use light/dark contrast. Use a contrasting background, such as a light or dark cloth draped over your lap, to help you see and locate your knitting. Use needles and hooks that contrast with the yarn color. Create contrasting work areas by using light and dark non-skid shelf liner, placemats, or plastic table covers.
- Use a low vision device. Talk with your eye doctor or low vision specialist to determine if a low vision device that will keep both your hands free, such as a chest or around-the-neck magnifier or a magnifier mounted on a flexible gooseneck stand, could be helpful for knitting. For more information about low vision devices and training, see What Is A Low Vision Examination? and Low Vision Optical Devices.
Tips To Help with Knitting and Crocheting
- A good way to begin is to switch to larger-gauge materials, such as bigger needles or thicker yarn. This will help with counting stitches and reviewing your pattern.
- If you're a beginning knitter, try to avoid using mohair wool or any type of yarn that splits easily. Consider using multi-colored yarn in place of a design that requires various changes in yarn color.
- Enlarge your knitting instructions or patterns on a photocopier, record them, or use a closed circuit television (CCTV) or video magnifier.
- Work with your fingers close to the tips of the needles. You'll be more likely to be aware of stitches falling off the needle (dropped) or left on (added). You can also ensure that each stitch is done correctly.
- To keep count of rows or stitches, place a "counter" -- such as a penny, a button, or a matchstick -- inside a container as each row is completed. Count them as needed. Some people use a cribbage board to keep track of rows. Others use a small abacus.
- Identify stitches by the location of the loops. The loops on "knit" stitches are on the side away from you, while the loops on "purl" stitches are on the side closest to you.
- Organize your yarns by color, using large print or braille labels. Use large bold print with easy-to-understand abbreviations made with a wide-tipped felt marker, or a tactile marking in braille. For additional hints about labeling your yarn and knitting supplies, see Labeling and Marking for People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision.
- Place yarn skeins in plastic Ziploc bags or old coffee cans with plastic lids. Create a one-inch hole in the center of the lid and thread the yarn through it to prevent it from rolling away or getting tangled.
- Keep each knitting project (yarn, needles, and pattern) together in its own bag or container.
- When storing your work for the day, place corks or rubber bands on the tips of the needles to ensure that stitches will not drop off accidentally. For added security, push your work to the back of the needles.
Source: Nancy Paskin, M.Ed., CVRT, Vision Rehabilitation Advisory Board; Polly Abbott, CVRT, OMS, Director of Rehabilitation Services, Second Sense. Used with permission.
Additional Knitting Links and Resources
- Horizons for the Blind provides braille, large print, and audiocassette instruction in crafts; plants and gardening; recipes; knitting; crocheting; and sewing needles and craft supplies.
- Copper Dots offers craft books and patterns in braille for knitting, crocheting, and cooking.
- Lion Brand Yarn provides free instructions to help you learn to knit or crochet, along with free knitting, crochet, and craft patterns.
- Loom Knitting Help is dedicated to the fiber art of loom knitting. Includes instructions for loom knitting and lists of projects.
- The Yahoo Blind/Low Vision users group for knitting, crocheting and spinning offers instructions and resources from a group of blind knitters.
- The Yahoo Blind Craft Discussion Group offers information and resources for a wide range of handicrafts.
- For more information about setting up a handicraft area in your home, see How can I set up a handicraft area in my home?
- Tuesday Night Tandems: An Opportunity for Fun and Fitness
Bonnie O'Day and husband Bob Hartt, both visually impaired, discuss starting a tandem bike club in our nation's capital.