Last Spring, I met with Dr. Jullia Rosdahl and Betty Haskin from the Duke Eye Center. Dr. Rosdahl wanted to conduct a study about yarn art therapy for low vision patients, and she was looking for an artist/teacher to teach some classes and make a project. She started her search at Cozy, which is how we met each other. We talked with Ms. Haskin, curator of the Touchable Art Gallery at the Eye Center, about a project that would be worked on and contributed to in the classes for the low vision patients.
Over the Summer I thought about ideas for teaching low vision patients and came up with the coral reef project. In the classes, I would teach low vision patients who had been knitters and crocheters earlier in their lives how to make some of the pieces for the coral reef. After the classes, I used the students’ contributions along my own work to create the coral reef. It will hang in the Touchable Art Gallery this summer.
Over the course of the year, I learned a lot about what goes into a study at a major university. The process is very slow! There is a lot paperwork and training–I had to complete an on line course about the protocols involved in being part of a medical study that involved people.
During the classes, I was able to see that Dr. Rosdahl was right to think that low vision patients could enrich their lives with yarn art therapy. The number of participants was small (We were dealing with illnesses since it was during flu season, and these patients have to rely on others for transportation. These conditions and others made it hard to recruit as many patients as we had hoped for) but the sessions were a success. Classes were warm, comfortable, and as enjoyable as any social knitting event I’ve ever been to. The patients were enthusiastic about learning freeform techniques. We all enjoyed the knitting and crocheting, but we also enjoyed talking with each other and learning about each others lives.
I didn’t know what to expect when this project was suggested to me, except that it would be interesting and challenging. It truly was, and it was also a wonderful, rewarding, and enjoyable experience.