Shell's Knitting Pages

This page carries information for blind knitters and crocheters in the UK.

For all Addresses and phone numbers of organisations in this text, please go to the useful contacts page.

My Knitting

I learned to knit almost 10 years ago, after losing my sight. I had given up smoking and needed something to do with my hands whilst reading a book or watching the telly. I began by making tiny animals that knitted up in just a day or so and then moved onto larger toys. I have made several of the larger clowns and now love to make jumpers too. My crocheting is a little more limited as I don't do as much, but I have made quite a few afghans and blankets, mostly from squares.

Here are some pictures of toys I have knitted.

Link to my toys.

Getting Started.

If you are blind and would like to learn to knit, I would highly recommend 2 books. Firstly, Better Knitting by Audrey Stratford from the Calibre cassette library. This book was specifically written to teach blind people how to knit. Step by step instructions are given for all the basic stitches and bells are sounded for you to go away and practice each section. The second book is by Jean Greenhowe, called the Knitwits. This Braille book from the RNIB contains 40 toys and gifts to make from plain garter stitch squares and oblongs. A fantastic way to practice basic knitting, it helps you to learn about sewing pieces together and following patterns, but also leaves you with a nice item to keep at the end. If you can find a friend or neighbour who knits, I'm sure they would be willing to help you get started, or even go into your local wool shop and ask the ladies there, I've always found them very helpful. Why not join a mailing list on the net, where you can ask other knitters how they cope with problems you may encounter.


Most of the equipment you will need for knitting can be bought at your local wool shop. However, the RNIB carries some very useful tools. A large print or Braille tape measure is a necessity and also their plastic needle gage which contains labelled holes in both metric and old English, so that you can find the right size needles. They also sell a large print and tactile row counter, but in my opinion an abacus is just as easy to use. Self threading needles can be useful, but I use the general wired needle threader from my local shop.


Patterns are available in quite a few formats. The RNIB carries a good range of knitting patterns in large print, Braille and cassette, but crochet patterns are not as numerous.

Link to RNIB Braille patterns.

The national Library for the Blind (NLB) loans a selection of knitting patterns and can also order some interesting crochet patterns from a library in Canada.

Link to NLB Patterns

If you have a pattern that you would like transcribing into Braille, then the RNIB runs a voluntary Brailling service. Many prisons have excellent Braille units and only charge for the price of the paper. They have extensive catalogues of patterns that knitters have sent in for Brailling previously.

Link to Prison unit patterns.

The Scottish Braille Press (SBP) have some Braille pattern books for babies, adults and toys and have a "learn to crochet" book which is very good. They also produce 2 magazines which feature knitting patterns. "Home help" is a weekly magazine which has a pattern pull out once a month, and "Madam" is a monthly magazine with patterns in each issue.

Link to SBP catalogue.

Marjorie Arnott is a Scottish lady who now lives in the US. She will sell her Braille patterns to people living in the UK and has a better selection of crochet books than anywhere else.

Link to Marjorie's catalogue.

Patterns on cassette are available from the RNIB, who will also have them read onto tape at your request. A small amount of patterns are also available from "Playback"

Link to cassette patterns.

Scanning patterns into the computer is another option, but success will largely depend on the quality of scanner and software and most patterns will need a little proof reading before you can start to knit. This is by far the quickest way to get a pattern into a useable format. There are also hundreds of free patterns available on the net, visit my links page to see some of the best.

Getting in touch

The Knitting and crochet guild (KCG) is the largest organisation for knitters in the UK. They have groups who meet locally all over the country and membership allows you to borrow print patterns from their vast library, which is very useful if you just want to scan them. Also, as well as general knitting equipment they sell some of the more unusual tools such as tunisian hooks hairpin forks and wooden crochet hooks.

If you would like to contact other knitters and crocheters in the UK, there are two busy mailing lists, full of experienced crafters who are always pleased to help in any way possible and many meet up for day trips and shows. You can join either list by sending a blank E-mail to

There is a wonderful international mailing list specifically for blind knitters and crocheters. We swap patterns, and ideas on how to make our hobbies easier. All the ladies are very friendly and there are more experienced knitters and beginners too. Statha, who runs the group holds a huge database of patterns and often scans new ones to post to the list. If you have any sight related questions to ask about any fibre crafts, then this is the first place to go. you can join the list by sending a blank E-mail to

If you would like to read about the experiences of other blind knitters in the UK, then please visit my UK crafters page.

Please contact me with your own details, so that I can include them here.

I hope you have found this page useful. If you have any suggestions to make or further information to add, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Happy knitting.

Link to useful contacts page.

Link to links page.