The Touch of Yarn

Contributed by Davey Hulse

Crystal and Ana have really honored me by asking that I write a bit about my book “The Touch of Yarn, Beginner Knitter’s Primer”. 

The first question you should be asking is:  Are you blind or just another sighted author trying to teach us something.  I’m totally blind and have been since grade school.  So, I’m one of us.

Most people ask why I wrote it, and the simple answer is:  Because when I started knitting around Labor Day of 2007, I couldn’t find a set of instructions or book that really spelled out each step in absolutely clear terms.  How do you hold the needles?  How do you control the yarn?  What’s a stitch?  Where do I set the ball of yarn to keep it under control?  Oh, and what’s a ball of yarn?  The stuff in the store looks more like a tube or a disk!

So, once I picked enough brains and did enough trial and error, I got the basic skills under my belt.  Then as new people joined our blind knitter group, I started trying out my skill at explaining things is simple, straight forward language so that there couldn’t be any mistake what I meant.  It worked.

And, so, the Touch of yarn was born. 

The other thing was that in all the instructions, no one gave any real guidance about sorts of projects that would bring success quickly, and I know that for myself if I don’t have success pretty quickly, I get frustrated.  That’s why every chapter and lesson has its own project that can be done within a couple or three hours, long enough to learn the skill but quick enough so that the project is done and the student can move on. 

I’d watched many first-time knitters take on a scarf with ordinary worsted weight yarn on medium sized needles.  That’s a project that is somewhere around nine or ten thousand stitches.  When a person is just learning it’s going to take a minute or so for every five or six stitches.  Fifteen hundred minutes or twenty-five hours is way too long for a first project.  No wonder in many of the bags of yarn I buy at the thrift store there are obvious scarf projects done by beginners.  They get bored and frustrated and give up.

Before I started writing the book, I thought my audience was going to be low vision and blind knitters.  But when I started having friends and family use the lessons, my sighted family members were really excited.  My daughter wrote in her blog that the typical lesson book with all its pictures just confused her and that for the first time knitting instructions were making sense.  A special ed teacher who had also been a mentor for a youth knitting guild was extremely complimentary and said that she wanted to use it for her sighted kids.

So, what can you learn from the book?  And, what kinds of projects can you get done?

It will take you through what I call advanced beginner skills.  Can you knit up a fancy scarf?  Yes.  Can you knit up a sweater using cables?  Yes.  Can you sew stuff together?  Yes.  Can you fix things when you make mistakes?  You bet. 

And, there’s enough in the book that if you are adventurous and creative, you can even take a pattern from the Internet and modify it to make it truly your own thing of beauty. 

Within a month I hope to have my own website up and have the hard copy in standard print, large print and Braille in 8.5 by 11 and 11 by 11.5 up for sale. 

And, Ana or crystal can get you in touch if you want a hard copy quicker.

I’m not much of a self-promoter and it feels awkward for me to sort of hawk my wares to you, but I’d really love you to be able to knit and to have the sort of success that I’ve had.  At my granddaughter’s third birthday I gave her a hooded sweater that I had knit up.  It was just as gratifying to hear the adults in the room muttering, “You made that,” as it was to have the little sweetie put it on, say “It fits,” and come over and hug me.  Also, when my Mom suffered a heart attack, I knit up an afghan and got it to her for comfort and her naps during her recovery.  Later she said she used it every day.  And, my 90-year-old father has one of the first large pieces I made draped across the back of his computer chair where he uses it every morning while he looks at family blogs, email, and at pictures of his great grandchildren. 

And, of course, I can’t count the number of smiles I’ve had as I feel one or another of the many scarves and shawls I’ve made my wife as she wears them. 

So, come along and join me in this wonderful, addictive and creative art form.

Davey Hulse, Salem, Oregon

To Purchase a hard copy of Davey’s book go to The Touch of Yarn.

To read a sample excerpt from The Touch of Yarn please download this pdf.

The Touch of Yarn Excerpts

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