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Knitting for the Disabled

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Updated March 25, 2013

Knitting for the Disabled

Young Woman Knitting

Sebastiangauert @Dreamstime.com

Knitting for the disabled can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Rehabilitation facilities may provide specific instruction for ways to more easily accomplish knitting, especially if an individual only has the use of one arm. Some individuals who are familiar with knitting find that the American method, as opposed to Continental, is easier to accomplish if they only have the use of one arm. For example, one hand holds one knitting needle, and the second needle is either tucked under the other arm, or it is balanced against a belt or the abdomen. Additionally, looms and knitting machines can assist individuals in making knitting projects.

Looms and Knitting Machines

Looms and knitting machines can make knitting projects quicker and easier. The loom method can be accomplished for people with a variety of disabilities, including those who have limited range of motion or the use of one hand only. ProvoCraft manufactures a product called “Knifty Knitters.” These are plastic looms that require the user to weave the yarn and then pull yarn up over pegs using a knitting tool. Many items can be made from these looms, ranging from scarves and purses to larger items, such as sweaters. Disabled users have found that placing the looms in one or two small craft vises helps to stabilize the loom so that the yarn can easily be pulled up and over the pegs. Mini craft vises with suction bottoms are popular as they can be easily moved from one surface to another by using a simple lever.

Looms are sold at many retail craft stores. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending upon what you want to create. They may be sold as a single item or in packages with more than one type of loom. The cost varies, and they are less expensive than a knitting machine.

Knitting machines are fun for children and adults to use. The machines are often called sweater machines, as this is usually their primary purpose. However, a number of items can be made on the knitting machine including scarves, afghans, lace and more. These machines require some manual dexterity because the yarn needs to be woven around pegs and there is a shuttle that needs to be run back and forth.

Two important tips for using knitting machines include:

  • Use the knitting machine on a perfectly flat surface, or it may not operate smoothly. If you are unsure if the surface is flat, or you experience difficulty moving the shuttle smoothly back and forth, use a construction level to ensure ease of use.
  • Use craft clamps to secure the knitting machine to the flat surface. It is much easier to use, especially one-handed, if it is held securely in place.

A final note about knitting machines – buying a new machine can be pricey. If you are unsure if you will enjoy using one, consider borrowing one to try first. Ebay is an online source where you can find them at bargain prices, however, make sure the accompanying accessories, instruction books and videos are sold with them.

Knitting Resources for the Disabled

Seasoned veteran knitters usually find unique ways to adapt this hobby. However, if you are new to knitting, it helps to have some assistance in getting started. There are several ways to accomplish this, including the following:

  • Cities and towns often have a knitting group that you may join. If there isn’t one, why not start one yourself? Having a knitting group that meets in your home may be a great way to enjoy the hobby, make new friends, and avoid any transportation issues you may have.
  • Rehabilitation centers and nursing homes often have residents and workers that are knitting pros. If there isn’t a knitting group already, ask if one could be started. Activity directors are always looking for something new for the residents to do, and knitting or crocheting is a fun hobby for almost everyone. Rehabilitation workers may also be happy to find ways to make it easier for residents to enjoy the hobby, including improvising adaptive tools.
  • Learn how to knit by watching videos or televisions shows. Knitty Gritty is a show on HGTV that features a variety of techniques and tips for beginners and advanced knitters; check your local cable company for channel information. In addition, the Internet is an excellent source for online videos featuring basic knitting techniques. YouTube has a wide variety of knitting videos created by hobbyists and professionals.

Knitting is a fun hobby that can be enjoyed by both children and adults of all ability levels. The basic tools and supplies are inexpensive, making this a hobby that anyone with a little patience can enjoy.

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