September 2021 Meeting Recap: Kim McBrien Evans of Indigodragonfly presents Inclusive Design and the Maker, Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Melanie Chen
Board President Kimberly Williams welcomed knitters and friends to the September meeting with an acknowledgement statement, in keeping with the Guild’s mission: “I would like to respectfully acknowledge that the land on which we are gathering today is the traditional homelands of a diverse array of indigenous tribes and bands. The greater Portland metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. We recognize Indigenous peoples as the traditional stewards of this land and acknowledge the enduring relationship between the land and the people since time immemorial.”
There are several Guild Leadership Positions open so please reach out if you are interested. We need your help and it’s a great way to make new friends and have a lot of fun. At the Board level, we are seeking a Communications Chair, who will lead the Communications committee, overseeing our social media accounts, website, newsletter, and virtual meetings using tools like Hootsuite, Weebly, Mailchimp, and Zoom. Because that is a lot, we plan to establish a committee of members who can work together and each handle part of it. Also at the Board level, we are seeking an Events Chair, who will organize guild events and coordinate any volunteers needed for said events, such as classes and (one day we hope) field trips. We are also setting up two new Committees: 1) the Charity Knitting Committee, which will find each year's recipient and organize the distribution of yarn and collection of finished items, and 2) the afore-mentioned Communications Committee, whose members will oversee our social media accounts, website, newsletters and/or virtual meetings.
We get a lot of questions from non-Guild members who have heirlooms that may need help restoring or sometimes they would like to have custom work done, in both knit and crochet. If you happen to do repair, finish, or custom work and would like more business, please share your information using the form found at PuddletownKnittersGuild.com/Referrals.
Our 2021 Winter Warmth Charity Knitting for Rose Haven will be wrapping up by the end of October, so if you have started or contemplated starting projects, now is the time to get them finished. Machine-washable hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, etc. are much appreciated!
We welcome members to join the Puddletown Make Along, and just think, you could win a special raffle prize! Three of our business members have created exclusive Puddletown colorways. 1) Puddle Stomp (from local indie dyer Knitted Wit) a DK superwash merino made sheep-to-skein in USA; 2) a beautiful set from Ryberry Yarns, which has created a collection of 85% SW Merino/15% nylon yarns in Puddletown’s name with fingering weight available in full or mini skein and DK weight available in full skeins; and 3) the Fremont Bridge colorway from Opposite Coast Dyes, done in a DK weight Peruvian highland and merino wool blend. Complete your object by Sunday, November 7th. Post a picture to Instagram or Facebook—be sure to tag it with #PKGMAL2021 so we'll see it—or email us at email@example.com. We'll announce the winner at our November 11 meeting. Follow our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds for upcoming special MAL Virtual Knit togethers. We hope to have some special guests.
Reminder to renew your 2021 Membership online: We're happy to have guests at our events. After a meeting or two, we ask that you support our programs by becoming a member. Visit puddletownknittersguild.com/membership to renew or join. Given that the year is more than half over, the individual membership has been changed to $17.50 (1/2 off full year).
Member Tips with Anna Lorton: This month is about Training Wheel tips (going through something you already do, but in an easier way!). Watch below as Anna demonstrates learning how to knit without looking at every stitch: you can start by just glancing away occasionally, then gradually work up to knitting without looking for multiple stitches. In another tip for folks who are trying to learn to knit continental style, Anna demonstrates using the long tail cast on and then dropping the thumb to launch into continental style. Finally, Anna showed us how she became comfortable knitting with one yarn in each hand for stranded knitting.
Next month will feature left-leaning decreases. Send your ideas and tips for future Member Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programs Chair Sharon Grayzel introduced our featured speaker, Kim McBrien Evans of Indigodragonfly. Kim is a Canadian knitwear designer and indie hand dyer whose designs are known for their ability to turn an abstract idea into a textile reality while simultaneously fitting and complimenting a wide range of bodies. Kim loves color, design and texture, and in her talk, she covered the maker's role in inclusive design with a focus on improving sweater fabric and fit through understanding ease, the importance of taking and applying measurements to choose a size or create a hybrid size, and what three things you can do to make your next sweater perfect for the wearer. She also highlighted the role of the maker in improving access to inclusive sizing.
Kim shared her powerpoint deck with Puddletown members, which is summarized below:
Inclusive design is a utopian ideal where everyone has clothing that fits well, is affordable, and functions well for their needs, abilities, and style. Makers need to work alongside designers, as partners in Inclusive Design. Over the past hundred and fifty years, styles have changed and the so-called ideal female body has been redesigned from time to time as if it were an automobile. However, the average women’s clothing size today is 16/18, and the majority of women in North America are size 18 or larger, whereas standard sizing for patterns has remained unchanged since the 60s. What used to be a size 8 in 1958 is now called a size 0.
Kim wants to see more diversity for everyone, and she advises “You are making clothes for you. Know your body. Measure your body. Often. Know what you LOVE to wear. Know your fabric. Adjust patterns to suit your body and your fabric. Choose styles that you enjoy and are comfortable wearing. Don’t knit something just because it is the most popular thing right now!”
Kim noted that you can change shoulder structures if you need to, and she frequently swatches to make a fabric that she loves. She doesn’t try to match the gauge, but instead does the math to change the pattern. In determining fit, she looks for no distortion of fabric, so that vertical seams and edges are perpendicular to the floor, bust darts end just before the fullest part of the bust and set-in sleeve seams sit at the shoulder joint. She also looks for sleeves that don’t bind or twist, necklines that sit flat against your body and are comfortable, and horizontal hems that are even and parallel to the floor. Ideally, you should be able to fasten the button without stretching, gapes or bulges.
Kim advised that your sweaters will always look like they fit you well when they fit you in the shoulders. She has observed that pattern sizes are often based on the upper torso (just below armpits), which helps determine where the shoulders fit. If the difference between your upper torso to your bust is 2 inches or less, then you can usually choose a pattern size based on your full bust. Otherwise you will most likely need to modify it.
Kim covered some major sweater shapes (hourglass, A-line, and straight) and shoulder styles (set-in, raglan, and drop) and mentioned that for certain body types--such as folks with comparatively small shoulders--you might want to steer away from top-down raglans. She recommended drop shoulders as an excellent style that complements many body types and advised first-time sweater knitters to seek patterns with drop shoulders.
In terms of ease, Kim differentiated between minimum ease, functional ease, and design ease.
Minimum ease standards for the upper torso are generally as follows: Set in sleeve ease is minus one to positive three. For a raglan, you want two to four inches of positive ease. Drop shoulders often have four to six inches of positive ease. Yoke patterns feature two to four inches positive ease for shallow (where yoke ends at armpits or two inches), and four to six inches for deep (one to three inches below armpit).
Other useful tips: Watch out if your sweater pattern doesn’t have a schematic, as you will often find this pattern is not worth your time and effort. Swatch, but swatches lie, so knit your swatch exactly the same way you will knit your sweater (in the same posture with the same distractions), and make sure to knit a fair sized gauge swatch of six inches square at a minimum, then measure before and after blocking. With non-wool or partial wool, Kim advises that you hang your gauge swatch for at least 24 hours.
For those desiring more information, Kim’s classes can be found here.
Show and Tell: Enjoy the wonderful array of completed projects!
Due to some scheduling issues, the speaker lineup has been altered slightly. Next month, join us on October 14 at 7 PM as Susan Rainey presents Introduction to Invisible Stranding.