Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Teaching Knitting at My Local Parks and Recreation Department

In my bio, I mentioned that one of my jobs is being a knitting instructor. When I started knitting five years ago, I never imagined teaching others how to take up this awesome craft. But three weeks ago, I started my fifth beginning knitting class for my local Parks and Recreation Dept. My classes have ranged from as few as 2 students, to as many as 12. For me, the best thing about teaching others how to knit is that my blindness has not been a barrier.

When I started my first class, I had to figure out how to take what is a completely tactile experience for me, and turn it into a visual one for my students. In order to accomplish this, I have written instructions that I give out, as well as personally demonstrating the techniques we’re learning. What I found, though, was that even the sighted need more than just visual cues to pick up this craft. For many of my students, what ends up helping them the most is when I manipulate their hands, because in the end, it’s about knowing how to move the needles and the yarn.

Not all of my students have finished projects by the end of class, but some of my favorites so far have included an Orange and Black striped scarf (OSU Beaver colors), a simple baby hat, and dish cloths that were made using a pattern I created. It is wonderful watching my students succeed at all the techniques that we cover, even if it takes some of them longer than they would like. I have yet to have a blind or visually impaired student, but I look forward to that challenge if it ever happens.

If you’ve thought of becoming a knitter, I encourage you to see if classes are offered through your Park and Recreation Dept., or one of your local craft shops. If you are an avid knitter, and think it would be fun to teach others, I encourage you to peruse becoming an instructor. Crafts can be done by anyone with the right adaptations.

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