Kitting and the Dyslexic

Years ago when i first started knitting I found it to be most default often losing count of vary simple pattern repeat like in a rib stitch. At the time I did not know why but it frustrated me to no end and was one of the reasons I gave up on knitting. years later as in this year I start knitting again so as any creative artist and coriaceous man went out got myself some needles and nice yarn and started in on a simple pull over zip well four tries latter at the rib I was so frustrated I wanted to give up! Being a wiser and certainly older knew in an instant that this was because of my Dyslexia. in my case and remember Dyslexia is a generalized term for a whole host of learning disability fallowing a simple knit 2 purl 2 repeat for 216 stiches is next to impossible I loos track of were I’m at I don’t remember if I knitted or purled and being new it’s hard for me to tell in the first few rows of a rib what the last stitch I did was. I can’t see the pattern so what I did was to place a stitch marker at the end of each pattern. so that I don’t have to count Looks ridicules feels even stranger in my hand. Boy did it help me. so that’s my story it sounds odd to any one that is not learning handicapped to fathom why this would be hard. It’s just one of a whole host of things that Dyslexics have difficulties with fallowing graphic charts for color work is another it has to do with seeing the cymbals then translating them in to the stitches rows and columns are very hard to look at they tend to move around on the page for many of us if anyone has other techniques I’d love to hear about it. Sins this is a man’s forum I thought it would be vary pertinent being that men suffer from Dyslexia almost exclusively but not completely there are woman that have it but very few some famous knitters have had Dyslexia and have talked about it. Many left handed knitters also experience a good number of problems being that they must revers all directions love to hear from any one that wants to comment

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sundazzed's picture

Welcome Paul to MWK...Great site. Keep up the great is a win, win, situation. It is easy to become impatient at times with this art but the outcomes are always rewarding. I love what I have been able to create over the many years that I have been at it. We are always learning something new with this craft..peace, Bill

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thank you its nice to be here

Tallguy's picture

You are correct that as a beginner you would have difficulty distinguishing a knit stich from a purl stitch. I always say to "read your knitting", but that is not possible when you don't know the letters! I think it will just take some time to be able to recognize each type of stitch. Don't worry too much about it just yet. It will come.

There is nothing wrong with using stitch markers! In fact, I'm a great proponent of using them after EVERY pattern repeat. There are usually a small number in any repeat, and you will see immediately if you missed a stitch in that one section. Just go back and correct it before you go any further. That way, I've never had to rip back a row (well, okay, rarely ever). I use coloured string markers and they work for me -- but do look rather strange to some muggles who don't understand why I have that odd lime-green or bright yellow yarn in an otherwise nice brown sweater! It would take too long to explain to them.

You have my permmission to use any method you can to make your work simpler and more enjoyable. Keep in mind that this activity is supposed to be relaxing! LOL

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thanks for that

CLABBERS's picture

Hi Paul,
I feel your pain! I am also dyslexic with numbers, reading music, and simply reading texts. It's odd that I ended up as a 38-year veteran reading teacher. I also lose track with repetitions in patterns. When I am knitting something that requires many stitches and have to do a K1, P1, I put my markers every 10 stitches, so when I am one stitch in front of the marker, I should be purling. If not, I only have to go back a few stitches to figure out where I made a mistake. Likewise, when I am doing a K2, P2, I put the markers every 20 stitches. We do what we have to do to get the results we want. There is no need to be bogged down by losing count to an already confusing and frustrating art form from time to time. After all, marking a knitting pattern probably evolved by non-dyslexic people simply because everyone loses count quite often because of lack of attention. I also frequently lose count or drop stitches because I am engrossed in a movie or television show, so I can't blame that on dyslexia.

I'm glad you have been able to modify your knitting habits to accommodate your needs. I like success stories like this from resourceful people. It's also nice to see that another knitter has the same issue as me.


21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thanks Mark its only in the support of each other not only as Dyslexics but also as fellow human binges that we can get by in this life good luck with your counting too

KnitRick's picture

Welcome to MWK Paul...Looking forward to future postings and pics of your work.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thank you for that warm welcome and it is nice to find a place were men can be men (Captain Moragen Profile view) LOL

Eggs_the_monki's picture

It's great that you've developed this method of keeping track of your stitches to keep yourself from getting discouraged. I would like to suggest something, I'm not sure if it will make this easier for you, or if it would confuse you further, but you might consider using two different color markers, one to mark your knits and one to mark your purls.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thanks for the idea all try it

chipsir's picture

Hi, I am so pleased that you have found ways of overcoming a disability. Knitting to me is one of the most rewarding things I do. I have the greatest respect for you and am looking forward to seeing many of your projects in the future.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture


AKQGuy's picture

I too am a dyslexic. I was lucky enough to be put into a program between kindergarten and first grade that was originally meant to correct what was thought to be a simple speech impediment but was later discovered to be dyslexia. By the time I entered first grade I was already a voracious reader at a higher level than my peers and had a grasp of how to compensate for my difficulties that has lasted me through adulthood. My main lackings have always been math. And not the basic this plus that gives me this. I always struggled with algebraic theories. I wanted hard numbers to play with. It wasn't until geometry and bio-chem that I was able to plug real numbers into those theoretical equations that I started to do better than average and see the results of my work. I had friends who despised proofs in geometry while I was for the first time since grade school more comfortable than they were with numbers. And I have to write them down with my own notations to keep track of what comes first. I was lucky enough to go to a "alternative" high school and in college had a couple lab professors that though they couldn't follow what I had written out for the equation, was able to come up with the correct answers enough to give me credit for the work. Even though I had one professor who thought I was making more work for myself and jokingly offered double credit on a test when I gave her not only the answer page but about a dozen pieces of my note paper with my work on both sides on a surprise organic chem test.

Due to this, sometimes people pick up that I do things... differently. I have word/number games I run through in my head to remind me of the correct way/answer for certain things that sometimes cause a delay in my answering. Some have noticed as I write or knit at times I will purposely look away from my hands or even just shut my eyes. My muscle memory isn't fowled up by my eyes and brain if I let my hands just do what they want to do. I learned that by accident one day in a concert when me and my stand partners music was knocked over and I found out that I actually had the piece memorized. I just had to let my hands do what they knew to do. I would suggest possibly trying that with your knitting. Get a feeling of what a purl and a knit stitch feel like between your thumb and forefinger and see if you can "read your knitting" by braille. When you get confused, feel out where you are in your stitches on your left needle and moving forward from there.

A friend of mine once asked me if I had to lose a sense, which one would I choose. She was shocked that I chose sight. She couldn't understand how sight for me had confused the world in so many ways since I was a child. I love music, and I'm a tactile texture oriented knitter, not necessarily color swayed. And I love to eat, and enjoy new flavors and combinations of flavors I already know and sense smell plays an integral part in taste, sight would be my first option. Besides, it would give me an excuse to take one of my dogs everywhere with me.

And on the note of sight, I find charts/graphs for my knitting much easier to deal with than long written out instructions. There's the regimen of the lines that keep my mind from scrambling up what should happen next that I find much easier to work with. I am working on writing out a pattern and I even have the charts done, it's the transcribing said charts to written instructions that I am stumbling across, and finding myself balking at sitting my butt down and finishing.

As for markers, remember that there is some knitter out there getting rich on the invention of a little plastic hoop because they not only used them, but had the good sense to market them to other knitters. Great work on finding a solution to your knitting woes. Keep up the great work and we hope to see more of your work here.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thank you for that in-depth explanation of your particular dyslexic aspect as you well know it has so many manifestation i ones read that it has as many as 6000 variation. yes i have noted this physical leaning aspect in my self but it dose take me a long time to gain that kind of muscle memory math is hard for me too! and yes i have to go threw some pretty lengthy stratagys to get threw seminally simple types of maths however i have a greater skill with abstract mathematical concepts rather then like you the hard numbers thing. even though i comprehend the theoretical side i still have vary poor skills i will never be a mathematision.
if there is any solace in this it is that we are probably more adept to thinking in pictures than any other kind of person. we make great architects artist musisions and many other abstract oriented types of professions.
my best advice to you all comes from my experience, it wasn't until i learned to let my self be right brained and stoped trying to fit in the mold of a left brained person that i ever had any piece of mind. i always felt defective because to to the mind of a left brained person( your teachers and prophesors bosses and others that hold your life in there hand that judge you on there terms) you are abnormal but that label is a left brained concept and by its vary nature is discriminatory. the right brain dose not throw insults it can not fathom the concept of Words such as Right or Wong it only sees life on its own termes line edges value shape form space it is ideally suited to look at the world in it's most physical forms. its simplicity in its self what a wonderful way to look at things to be fully engaged in to the life around you to not only feel it but to see it in your minds eye and experience it as beautiful and perfect as the right brain dose!

JDM511's picture

When I do cables, I hate to read the instructions and I have trouble following graphs, I get lost easily. I downloaded a knitting font for excel and redo the graph in excel and color code the cables. That way the colors match up to the areas between my markers. Help me keep track of where I am in the pattern.


21stcenturyDamocles's picture

excellent strategy! maybe you could provide a link to how to do this or write out some instruction?

santaml's picture

Man a lot of simmilar stories. I am dyslexic too. but like most of you we all tend to find something that works individually for us. I did something simmilar when I started knitting because it was had to keep track but now I can see the stich and know what I worked previously your brain will track better with time regarless of the dyslexia. Well come to the group I love the colors you are working your pull over zip.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thank you these are some of my favourite colours. i did not say what i was using. this is Drops 100% Alpaca (i am allergic to sheep's wool) knit in a double strand that's how you get the variegation in the pattern' its just a strait knit stitch pattern on circular needles. i tend to chose yarns and colours that i think both have a vintig look as well as a more Modern styles. coming from an art background has been invaluably in my ability to pick colours that complement my work so many yarns are made for the eye and taste pallet of woman its not that i object to bright colours its just the hue of some of these colours have a great deal of yellow Woman tend to prefer this were as men in test have shown a preference for colours with blue as there bases. red's being the bigest issue for men we just don't like those orangey reds of course there are exceptions to that rule

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I am also dyslexic. Numbers are part of it but so is switching letters as I write. If I'm very tired, it seems to get worse. That's when I override all my coping skills, mainly self taught as a young kid. Being so left-hand dominant only made it worse. What I had to do with regards to knitting was work on knowing exactly what my knitting should look like as I knit. Then, I can look for pattern repeats and [hopefully] catch mistakes before they caused bigger problems. Even then, it took a long time to equate charts to instructions to finished projects. The big plus is that it allows me to examine knitted items and figure out what went into making it. Or photographs. That was how my older relatives swapped patterns and I figured it would be a good thing to learn. Of course, trial and error is a huge part of all this...and being willing to rip. The best I can say is "Great job for sticking to it! Do what you need to do to succeed; it's your knitting."

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

Yes being sleepy is hard for even non Dyslexics but it is even a greater factor for us. mite i sujest shorter and more frequent knitting pirods as a remedy. at least it makes knitting more enjoyable

MMario's picture

I'm not dsylexic; but do have a version of an eye disorder (it runs in the family - but only ambles in me) which complicates things at times; however I DO have a problem counting to TWO! my mind always wants to do ONE or THREE rather then two...

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

interesting some eye related issues are in fact miss diagnosed Dyslexia. the problems lie in how are brains interpret input iv been reading about several studies were by brain tissue in dyslexics shows a marked differentiation from normal samples mainly a smaller cell structure in the medial cortex this is the link between hemispheres it has been theorised that there is a slowing of cell mediation between the right and the left brains
thank you for sharing your story they do give one hope or at least a sense of normalcy

michaelpthompson's picture

I'm not aware of being dyslexic, but I do lose concentration sometimes and forget where I am, even on 2X2 ribbing. As Quinton said, I also find that my hands usually remember, even if my brain doesn't, but not always. I don't know how many times I've gone back to the beginning of a row or round and counted so find out where I was supposed to be. It does become easier after a while to "read" the knitting, and I can now see the difference between a knit and a purl, so I know where I am on something like ribbing a lot easier. Just takes a bit of practice.

Concentration can certainly be one of my big problems in knitting, especially as I tend to knit while watching TV or at entertainment events. But for that reason I don't mind stockinette stitch as much as some people do. :-)

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thanks for the advice. its mainly repeat patterns that cause the greatest issue for me. i have learned to read my work but its in those first 3 or 4 rows were a rib pattern has not relaxed so you don't see the bands of the rib that are the hardiest for me. ones the rib is well on its way geting a few inches away from the needles then as you well know every thing starts to look as it will when completed so at that point its a no brainer.

I am also dyslexic, so all of my patterns I sing.(in my head) Such as a k 1 p 1 would be " uh, mmm" I know that every uh is a knit. It seems to help me. For lace I develop a longer song.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

thanks i do that with some spelling problems i have. its a good idea.