April 2020 Meeting Recap: Our First Virtual Meeting with Meaghan Schmaltz (aka The Unapologetic Knitter), the Return of Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Kimberly Williams
Our first virtual meeting was a success. Margaret welcomed people as they signed into the Zoom meeting. And what a breath of fresh air was that bit of normality in the face of our current situation.
Anna Lorton has graciously volunteered to organize our member tips to make them a regular feature of meetings again. She started off with two great ideas. For those reluctant to speak in front of a crowd, you can ask a friend to present your tip. As well as technique tips, we can also share “knit-changing” book recommendations.
Anna’s tip for this month was a game changer for Make 1 increases.
Back by popular demand and bravely agreeing to be our virtual presentation guinea pig, Meaghan Schmaltz, aka The Unapologetic Knitter, spoke to us about the challenges of grading designs to achieve size inclusivity. Her passion for this movement was apparent immediately and outlined in three reasons to design for all body shapes. Community, pride in creation, and because it’s the right thing to do. When a pattern gains popularity and everyone is knitting it, a community is created around that pattern. If that pattern’s design limits sizes to a small range, many will be excluded. And isn’t one of the best parts of being a knitter the sense of belonging? When you knit a pattern and the design is thoughtful about each size, thus allowing the finished sweater to fit you well, pride will follow. Pride that you made this beautiful sweater, stitch by stitch. And hopefully, that pride will translate into self-love.
There are many challenges to grading a pattern. Grading is adjusting a pattern for a range of sizes based on a sample size. Ratio of increases is not the same at every part of the sweater, collar, yoke, bust, sleeve, waist. Raglan yokes are especially hard to grade and maintain the 45 degree angle. To grade a pattern for an inclusive size range takes time. Either the designer must put in the effort themselves or hire technical editors, like Meaghan.
What does all of this mean for knitters? Patterns will be longer with more breakouts—sections of the pattern written for a subset of sizes; for example, size 1,2,3 only, work these steps. More time on the designers part will increase pattern pricing. In our opinion, the cost will be well worth it.
Meaghan also presented results from her size off comparison of Andrea Mowry’s Comfort Fade Cardigan sized using standard nomenclature (S,M,L) and the Weekender sized using numerical nomenclature (1,2,3,4). Part of this inclusive movement in knitting design is the shift in nomenclature. Meahan looked at 10 pages of Ravelry projects for each sweater. Out of the 320 projects of each design, 50% of the Comfort Fade reported the size made. Compare that to the numerical sized Weekender at 70% reporting the size made. Are people more comfortable with a method of naming sizes that does not include a negative connotation? It would seem so. This all goes back to the sense of community. Ravelry provides us with a place to share our projects and learn from others’ projects. How much more useful would this be if we all felt comfortable to share the size we made?
Lastly, Meaghan highlighted some designers she knows who are doing the work to further embracing body positivity and size inclusivity. Jacqueline Cieslak is a great inspiration for both of these. Shannon Squire and Annie Lupton are making the effort to go back and regrade their designs for a wider range of sizes. Meaghan works with Trysten Molina and Andrea Mowry to create designs that have the same look at all sizes.
Thanks, Meaghan, for a great presentation.
Despite being virtual, we still wanted to do a show and tell. We asked the community to mail in their projects, and finished off the meeting with the below.