Community member Sally Edworthy explains how an operation to treat her glaucoma has left her totally hooked on crochet.
I taught myself to crochet in my early teens long before the onset of any glaucoma. For 25 years the eye drops seemed to keep the glaucoma under control.
Four years ago, the glaucoma took a nasty turn and became very aggressive in both eyes. I needed an operation and while I was recovering I began to crochet a lot more. It was actually my only option, as I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than a coffee cup, so sitting and crocheting won.
I decided to make toys because these were easy to make, didn’t take much yarn and were quick to finish. I became hooked — if you’ll pardon the pun.
Can’t stop, won’t stop
I just couldn’t seem to stop; I would find patterns online and just kept making more and more toys. Several months after my operation my vicar visited me and saw the enormous number of toys stacked on a chair.
She suggested that I set up a stall at the church fair and sell them for charity. But, I decided it would be better to actually give them away in exchange for a donation to the charity, Sight Support Derbyshire.
I took a trailer full of toys to the church fair and gave them all away. The donation system worked really well. Children gave me whatever they had in their pockets, and then their parents would come along afterwards and give me £5 or even £20. That day, I made a lot of money for charity.
After the fair, I continued to crochet, but the glaucoma was progressing rapidly and it became hard to read the patterns. My iPad was invaluable as I could use it enlarge the patterns and read them. I had corrective glasses, which were fine for crocheting, but if I used them for anything else, I became visually overloaded – not a nice feeling.
I found that I could still crochet if I used a largish hook (3-4mm) and double knitting or Aran (medium weight) yarn. I became quite good at what is called amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. No two of my creations are the same — each one has its own personality.
As my glaucoma continued to accelerate, I was registered as severely sight impaired. I’ve had to become more inventive with how I follow crochet patterns. I now know them almost off by heart, but on occasions I need prompting. I use a 24 inch screen and I make the text enormous.
The power of video
YouTube has a lot of crocheting videos, where someone explains what needs to be done. This makes crocheting very straightforward. I just listen to the commentary and then do as I am told. I find the combination of the verbal instruction and the very large image on my monitor makes following a pattern relatively straightforward.
Since that first church fair, I have been to more events and raised money for other charities like RNIB and Sightsavers.
I know that I may not be able to crochet forever. I think my hands know how to do it more than my eyes. Hopefully, the more I continue to crochet, the better my hands will be at remembering how to do it. But, I will continue to crochet as long as I can.