Knitting—a Beacon of Hope for Blind and Visually Impaired People

4 knitted items laid out on a table

by Dayle Kane, VisionAware Peer

If you are new to the loss of vision and the world seems to have been turned up-side-down, it is important to spend time in a place which feels familiar and comforting. Perhaps you feel lost and as though nothing will ever be the same. This might be a time when you think about something you enjoy. 

Hobbies and pastimes which bring us pleasure can be a marvelous way to re-establish some balance, to do something simply for the joy of it. 

Handcrafts, in this case, knitting, is a hobby I do for fun, creativity, and a sense of accomplishment. If you were a knitter and now, with less vision feel you will be unable to do so, please let me encourage you. You can! 

It might feel awkward and clumsy when you first take yarn and needles into your hands. But get a sense of what touching them is like. It may surprise you that muscle memory will slowly begin to show your hands what to do. Place the needle into the stitch, wrap the thread around, pull the needle through that stitch and finally take the new stitch off of the needle. The rhythm as you move your hands will begin to feel almost automatic, and this feeling will help you find your way back to a craft you love. 

What Do You Need to Knit?

To knit, all you need is a set of needles and some yarn. You don’t need vision to begin a project as you would for sewing where fabric needs cutting. You can begin with a simple one-stitch pattern and knit as short or long a piece as you like. Later you can ask for sighted assistance to choose and mark for identification different colors of yarn. For now you can practice using any yarn you have. 

Giving and Getting Assistance 

My husband and I give assistance at a local low-vision group on occasion, illustrating helpful devices and talking about what and how we achieve independence in daily life helps to open a dialog with folks and really bridges a gap. During one of these sessions, I passed a knitted item around, and afterward a lady timidly came to me and said, “You have made me decide to try knitting again.” I assured her I would be there to help her if the need arose. 

You too may find help through support or low-vision groups. Read Peer Advisor Lenore Dillon’s posts on joining a support group and check out our section on featured groups and other support group information.  

Additional Information  

Peer Advisor Lynda Lambert also addressed the importance of knitting in her life when she first lost her vision in her post Knit Your Life Back Together. In her post she described how she set up a place to knit, obtained the items she needed such as knitting needles, patterns and yarn, and stored her materials so that she could easily find what she needed. 

If you don’t like knitting, VisionAware offers a host of information on other arts and crafts and on woodworking.