Blind Far South Coast CWA group vice-president knits way to 2018 state conference

When Elaine Heskett lost her sight 10 years ago, she thought she would never knit again. 

But now the vice-president of the Far South Coast Country Women’s Association group, and Moruya CWA branch treasurer, has been selected as a NSW state finalist in the handicraft division.

On Tuesday, March 13, representatives from the 10 CWA branches on the Far South Coast met at the Bermagui Country Club to compete for a place at the upcoming state conference.

Ms Heskett never expected her purple knitted child’s dressing gown and matching booties would be selected.

“I can’t believe it, I’m still in shock,” she said. 

A loss of blood supply permanently damaged Ms Heskett’s optics, causing her to lose almost all of her sight in the space of a few days. 

Over the last decade, she has been relearning every aspect of her life.

“All of a sudden you can’t drive, you can’t read, watch television, cook or knit, all of those little things you take for granted,” she said. 

Without sight, Ms Heskett relies on feel and memory to create her handicrafts. 

“I actually have my husband read out the patterns out to me, then I memorise them in my mind and work from that,” she said. 

Her husband Ray Heskett is delighted to help his wife rediscover her passion, even though the patterns make no sense to him.

“To be honest, it’s a little bit like reading out a code,” he said. 

“But it’s fantastic that she’s got a place at state, considering she has started knitting from scratch again,” he said.

Ms Heskett slowly relearned the craft by knitting small squares and building up to bigger projects. 

“It takes me ages to complete something like this because it’s all done by feel,” she said.

“But the alternative is being cooped up at home doing nothing, and for me that’s not even worth thinking about.”

Ms Heskett said she has been able to regain a significant amount of her mobility with the help of her guide dog – and local celebrity – Mr Darcy.

Her handicraft will be displayed and judged alongside winning selections from 30 other CWA groups across NSW at the state conference in Armidale on April 30.