Knitting with Poor Eyesight

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KathleenR Crying [:'(] wrote
on Jul 23, 2008 8:58 AM

 Hello All,    This past March I was diagnosed at age 69 with age-related macular degeneration.  Having just resumed knitting with a passion in the past two years after many years of doing needlepoint,  you can imagine how I felt at hearing the bad news from my opthamologist.  My LYS owner assures me that she has several knitters who are completely blind.  I hope to retain some of my side vision in the future and forstall the worst effects of the ailment which will take away the central portion of my vision.  I'm wearing large hats and sunglasses (I have lived in the sun all my life, in beach-side communities) taking lots of anti-oxidants, but should have been doing these eye-sight helpful things much earlier.  So I am knitting up a storm, and loving every minute of it- my hands are sore at the end of the day.

Does anyone have any tips to help those of us continue to knit who are losing our sight?  Or is it/will it be just a matter of practice/adjustment as my sight fails?  I appreciate in advance any help from the Knitting Daily community- knitters helping other knitters.  Thank you.

KathleenR

 KathleenR

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HelenS wrote
on Jul 23, 2008 1:20 PM

Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and the adjustment will surely be difficult for you in many ways.  However, there is no reason you can't go on knitting.  Knitting is actually one of the easiest types of needlework for blind people.  I worked at a school for the blind for many years and many of my students knitted, including those with physical disabilities as well as blindness.  For many years knitting was taught to blind girls as a lucrative means of making a living (handcrafts don't pay like they did 50 or 100 years ago).  Helen Keller and other Deaf-blind girls in her time knitted fine lace pieces with size 80 and 100 cotton or linen thread and needles like thin wires.

I often knit without looking, and I'd bet maybe you do too.  Try knitting with your eyes closed or while watching TV and notice how much of the process is done by "seeing" with your fingers.  If you can get any rehabllitation or ocupational therapy services, ask for help with your need to keep knitting.  Contact your local school or association for blind people to see if you can meet any blind knitters (there are many out there).  I think you may find this adjustment easier than learning to eat, iron, and such without sight.  If you do lose your vision totally, you should still be able to do any knitting you want to without help, except colorwork; but even there you can use tactile labels and such to help you keep track of your colors after someone helps you to pick them out.  Your blind knitting buddies will be able to help you with this.

Good luck and don't lose heart.  Keep knitting as it will be a great source of comfort and support for you during this difficult transition.

Helen Stohlman

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KathleenR wrote
on Jul 24, 2008 10:02 AM

Thank you so much, Helen!  You've helped me a great deal.  I've generally been a positive person during my lifetime, but this has really gotten me down.  Am trying to focus on the things I will be able to do and to realize that my knitting skills will not be totally gone is a good thing! I did try to knit with my eys shut, but couldn't do it.  But maybe because I didn't have to!  Will see how it goes...and will post my progress here.  I have a feeling that I am not the only one in my situation.  I am a WWII baby, not a Boomer, but there are many boomers with Macular Degeneration, according to my eye doctor, and the research is heating up with the large numbers of people getting it.  Thanks again!

KathleenR Smile

 

 KathleenR

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HelenS wrote
on Jul 24, 2008 6:09 PM

No problem, I'm glad it was helpful.  I'm 51 so I just make it into the boomers.  Reading your message made me think about what the future may hold for me...  I have always felt I would do much better with a hearing loss than blindness, but we don't get to choose these things, do we?  Good luck and I look forward to hearing your news.


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HelenS wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 2:05 PM

I tried to be aware of how I knit without looking the past few days - I keep my fingertips very close to the needle tips, and use the thumb and index fingers of my left hand to push the next stitch into positon, then stick in the needle and wrap the yarn (I hold the yarn in my left hand).  Hope this helps, but I still think some blind knitting friends will be able to help you more!


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