Jan’s Braille Quilt (Yes, you read that right)

A white quilt with multicolored squares is folded to show the white back of the quilt. On the back, there are French knots depicting the quilt's story in braille.

Since January is National Braille Awareness Month, we'd like to share a story about a non-traditional use of braille. Jan Lavine, an ABLE Tech volunteer, completed a French knot braille coverlet after she lost her vision. Jan is also a Library of Congress-certified Braille Transcriber and Proofreader.

On March 25, 2006, after she rubbed of her eyes, Jan heard and felt a champagne bottle-type pop in the back of her eye. This marked the beginning of her instant journey into vision loss. Jan found she only had a tiny pinhole of up-close vision that allowed her to see three print letters at a time. Jan needed braille to read, but desperately wanted to finish her decades-long work on a Cathedral Window coverlet that was almost finished. Jan knew it would be a race against time before the tiny vision hole permanently closed. Further slowing her efforts were numerous blood-drawing finger pricks which would stop all sewing for the day until her fingers healed.

At noon on April 26, 2007, Jan completed her Cathedral Window coverlet.

To celebrate the completion of her work, Jan decided to inscribe information about her journey on the back of the coverlet. With her blindness, though, she would not be able to visually read simple embroidered script. So, Jan turned to the one thing she could read, braille. Using French knots, Jan embroidered her name, the timespan, and the various states she lived in during the years she spent hand-sewing this project.

Have you come across any interesting forms of braille?  If so, we'd love to know more about them!

Jan is a middle aged woman with long grey hai and glasses. She is wearing a red printed shirt with a white cardigan and a pearl necklace.
Jan Lavine