Knitting and Crochet
If you're an experienced knitter who is 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 will succeed!
Charlotte Shrier displays her
knitwear in progress
Getting Started and Organizing Your Work Area
- First, check the lighting. If you have low vision, make sure that the lighting in your work area provides sufficient illumination. A flexible-arm task lamp 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.
- For more ideas, see Setting Up a Craft Area: Some Ideas to Try If You Are Blind or Have Low Vision.
- 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.
Tips To Help with Knitting and Crocheting
Work with your fingers closer
to the tips of the needles
- 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.
- In the beginning, 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 an electronic video magnifier or CCTV.
- 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" (a penny, button, or matchstick) inside a container as each row is completed. Count them as needed. Some knitters 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 with easy-to-understand abbreviations. For additional hints about labeling your yarn and knitting supplies, see Labeling and Marking.
- 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.
- Horizons for the Blind provides braille, large print, and audio instructions in crafts, knitting, crocheting, and sewing and craft supplies.
Source: Nancy Paskin, M.Ed., CVRT; Polly Abbott, CVRT, OMS, Director of Rehabilitation Services, Second Sense. Used with permission.
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