Say hello to Cynthia ( a 'Blind Crafter')

After writing about my plans for a new community project (coming in August), I received an email which simply said "I am a blind crafter - would my story be of interest and of help to encourage other visually impaired people ?". Of course I immediately wanted to know more, so I got in touch and asked Cynthia to tell us about her crafting, how she manages to knit when she can't see the stitches, and what it all means to her. This is what she had to say... 

"My name is Cynthia Easeman (71) and I have a guide dog called Olivia who is 8 years old. I am a blind crafter. No sight in my left eye and shapes and colours in my right with not much detail. I have been knitting since my grandmother taught me when I was about 7, as we listened to the radio. My first project then was a scarf which I seem to remember every row took me half an hour, we then went on to dolls clothes.
Me and Olivia
My eyesight has been a problem since birth, especially in my left eye but it has worsened in my right eye as the years went on, due to cornea scaring, uveitis, glaucoma etc. Worsening until I knew I needed to admit I needed help and was registered severely sight impaired. During all this time I used coping strategies and early on did a part time adult education teaching certificate in crafts, majoring in macrame and crochet. This proved to be useful in not only teaching but the social side as well, one lady who had a baby who died at birth came along to the classes and despite that being over 40 years ago, moving away from each other, we are still friends. Coming to these classes saved her sanity.

When my husband and I moved to Hunstanton, I opened a craft shop, very successful for 8 years and we taught there mostly paper crafts. My daughter in law helped me design some metallic prick and stitch card kits and I appeared on Create and Craft TV, with Alan and Barry for 18 months, which was very enjoyable.

As my eyesight got worse I began to wonder if I could continue crafting, I saw a friend was asking for people to make items for a WW1 film and I asked could I help. It was suggested that I might make a garter stitch muffler and I was given some lovely wool which needed to be washed to make it soft after knitting up. I found I could manage garter stitch by feeling with my fingers and using what sight I had. As this was successful I then went on to making a "Tammy" or beret. Both were used in the film and indeed featured in a WW1 knitting book (Centenary Stitches) and a small article about me and Olivia was included.

From Centenary Stitches by Elizabeth Lovick (Editor)
This spurred me on and I then tried other knitting, a friend needed help with making some Angel baby items, initially I found it very difficult to get the sizing correct and then I found Marianna's Lazy Daisy Days patterns and these have helped immensely. My friend (an Internet friend who I never met)  was killed just before Christmas and so in her memory I run a Facebook charity knitting group, and we support a wide variety of projects, Angel baby clothing, for the homeless, Neo natal, assisting charities with their Christmas parcels something we have become most known for - "memorial sets" which contain the Angel babies name on some hand knitted blankets, teddies, hearts, gown or sleep sac. If you would like to join our group please message me

A sample of our memorial sets
The most difficult things I find now is lace or open patterns, I cannot see to unpick when I go wrong and often cannot see when I am going wrong, I have found the "safety line" a thread sewn though every now and again at least makes the unpicking just to that line, although I must admit I try not to do many lace patterns.

I don't beat myself up about my knitting, I know a baby will not worry if there is a stitch or two out of place, they will just be happy to be warm and cosy and the parent will be pleased to know someone out there knits love onto every stitch. The Angel knitting of course brings a little joy at a very sad time and if followed up on the Angelversary then makes it even more special.

I still do crochet as well having made some beautiful little cribs and some bunting for my grandson's birthday. Card making is still on the cards too, rather simpler designs these days but useful when you want that extra special and individual card.


At 'Knit and Natter'
So what I want to say to visually impaired people is please have a go, if you can find a blind knit and natter group that would be good, but if not why not ask a friend to help teach you? Life will have so much more to interest you, keep your fingers moving and give your life a purpose."

I feel very inspired by Cynthia's attitude to life and am so glad that she took the time to share it here. If you feel inspired or you can relate too, please leave a comment to let her know - I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. If you'd like to help Cynthia's charity knitting group, please get in touch with her directly for information on how you can help.  

8 comments

  1. My Goodness, what a Treasure Cynthia is! I was born with a very rare eye disease that has seen me almost lose my sight twice. Fortunately massive and long term doses of anti inflammatory steroids and other medications kept complete blindness at bay. Technically I am legally blind with a central blind spot in my right eye that my left eye counter balances. I've often wondered how I would cope if the worst were to happen and reading Cynthia's story has been SO inspirational. We don't give up, we adapt and continue to adapt. Thank you Sarah for introducing Cynthia to us, and thank you Cynthia for being such a generous inspirational being.

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    1. Thank you Amanda for your lovely comments, hoping you can mange to do all the crafts you choose to do X

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  2. Cynthia, your story is very inspiring and your life is a great example for all of us. I don't have problems with eyesight, but your story teaches me not to give up in any situation. There is always an exit, and man's possibilities are in fact endless. And I agree with you that crafting gives your life a purpose. I love to crochet. And when I feel bad or emotionally exhausted, several hours of crochet always bring ma back to life. Thank you so much for everything you are doing!

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    1. Thank you Lilla we have a lot to be thankful for being able to craft and the lovely people we meet along the way X

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  3. Hi Cynthia, thank you so much for sharing your story. Your positive attitude and the compassion you show for others in your charity work is so inspiring. I myself do not have any eyesight issues but have experienced other health problems and stories like yours always lift me up and remind me that there always is a way when we don't give up. xx

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    1. Thank you Christa we often have hidden issues that others cannot see or understand and I am glad that my story have you a lift X

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  4. That is an amazing story! Cynthia, I'm so glad you've found a way to enjoy your crafts, and not letting your impairments getting in the way of that. Your positivity is an example to us all! x

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    1. Thank you Kirsten for your kind words and I am pleased if I can share my positive out,OK with anybody that needs it X

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