Knitting by Blind Faith

The Weekend
Monday, April 28, 2008, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting,Life

Our friend J. came over on Friday with her German shepherd guide to say hello. Her guide is undoubtedly one of the gentlest shepherds I have ever met. Even Peace, a little chihuahua, antagonized her, and she just took it all in stride. The three girls had a blast together, and it was great for me to catch up with an old friend I don’t get to see too often.

We took J. home and were invited to have dinner with her and her husband, T. J. prepared a scrumptious penne with marinara, accompanied by hot sausages that were pan seared, then baked to retain their moisture. We loved it so much that I made a spaghetti version for RAM and me last night.

The walk-a-thon had an awesome turn-out on Satuday. RAM and I were both net control operators, and another amateur radio operator logged for us. She is a knitter and crocheter, so she understood when I whipped out my needles and continued to knit on the baby blanket. I was grateful for her help. I could not have logged and knit at the same time!

After the walk, I went over to S.’s house to teach her how to knit. Because the week slipped away from me, I did not have time to prepare step-by-step instructions for her in Braille. (Shame on me!) Consequently, we only worked on the slip knot and casting on. Since our local public transportation is very limited, we don’t see each other very often. When she begins to knit, she will probably be frogging a lot, and will need to be comfortable with casting on. And since the long tail cast-on is harder than knitting, I wanted her to have this in her muscle memory before moving on. She agreed with this approach.

To teach her, I first knit a small swatch using her needles and yarn, so she would have an example of knitting to look at. One of the biggest challenges when you are visually impaired or blind and learning to knit on your own is that you have no feedback to see if you are interpreting instructions correctly or where you can improve your knitting. We can’t look at pictures on the internet or in books, so we must rely on the feedback of other knitters (if we are fortunate enough to know other knitters). If we are not fortunate to know other knitters, or our knitting friends/family members are far away, then a nonknitting friend or spouse can look at pictures and tell us if we are on the right track. But having a swatch to refer back to is the best way to go, because you can constantly reinforce the picture of your ultimate goal in your mind as you are practicing.

To teach the slip knot and the long tail cast-on, I first did them myself and described my movements, so that she would start to get a picture in her head. I then let her feel my hands and the needle tip and yarn as I worked. Then, I let her try on her own. As she started to get the hang of it, I stood behind her and put my hands over the top of hers to guide them, so that she could start to feel the fluidity of the motions and to understand how to move her hands in tandem as she worked. When necessary, I would hold the needle and/or yarn in place in various positions so that she could feel them and really understand what she was doing, step by step.

By the time I left, her tension had relaxed, she wasn’t getting any extra wraps of yarn around her needle, and her stitches were nearly uniform. Go, S.! I recommended that she take breaks often, and when she put the needle down, to always leave stitches on it, so that she would have a reminder of what they should look like the next time she picked up the needle. I told her that when she can read a book or watch TV and cast on without thinking about it, we’ll move on to the knit stitch. The smile on her face at the end of the lesson was worth a billion dollars and was the highlight of my weekend!

RAM cleaned the house and marinated the steaks for me while I was with S. (Isn’t he a sweetheart???) When we left S.’s house, we went grocery shopping. After dinner, we finally did it. After toying with the idea for years, we finally bought a Sleep Number bed. Our bed has needed to be replaced for a while. I am so excited, and can’t wait for it to arrive.

Yesterday, we got to relax. I talked to my dad on the phone for a while, and RAM and I spent time in the afternoon with I. and her daughter at the pool. I knit a little more on the baby blanket and will post pictures on Wednesday.

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Sounds like a splendid weekend! Thanks for sharing how you taught S. I’m going to be teaching my mom how to make socks. She is a new knitter (as of Friday) and your tutorial reminds me to slow down and show her step by step (even though she can see, I sometimes jump ahead) To remind her to really look at what she is doing, study it, watch how each stitch is formed! Thanks for teaching me how to be a better teacher! Can’t wait to see pics of the blanket!

Comment by leah

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