“I decided that my truth would be that no matter what my body looked like on any given day, no matter what the tag said on my clothes, I would see myself as beautiful and worthy of love”
On one weekday afternoon, I found myself scrolling through the online pages of knitting patterns, looking for my next project. My eyes landed on a beautiful knitted top. I eagerly dropped it in my cart and checked out. As I scrolled through the pattern, I realized I had been too hasty and forgotten to check the sizing. I had bought patterns from this designer before and they had been in my size range. However, this pattern was only written to XL and I was one size larger.
My mind spun around for a bit of thinking of how I could fix this mistake I had made. I still wanted to make this beautiful pattern, but I questioned if I had the skills to figure out how to adjust up to my size. With the small amount of knitting experience I had at the time, I was doubting I had the ability to turn this around.
If you wear a size that bears an X, or multiple X’s for some of us, you may know the feeling all too well of finding a beautiful pattern you would love to make but the designer has stopped short of your size. Or the designer has written a pattern to your size, but they have used a size chart that scaled all the sizes down. The range of feelings this causes can go from pure frustration all the way to negative thoughts about our bodies.
As a woman in my late 30’s, I have been all over the place when it comes to the size and shape of my body. After having two large babies in 2006 and 2008, while already overweight, I found myself in a body I wasn’t happy with. Over the next three years I would shed nearly ninety pounds and then for the next seven I would gain it all back. I came to a place where I began to ask myself, what if this is the way I always look? What if I’m always plus sized?
There were two ways I could have answered myself. I could have taken a negative stance against my body and decided that everything about me was wrong. I could have restricted, punished, and criticized myself when looking in the mirror daily. That is a direction that people, both young and old, often decide to take. We are subjected daily to images, commercials, and opinions about a certain body standard that, in reality, only a small percentage of the population actually has.
I decided I would choose to take another way. After all those years of reducing calories and running for miles and miles I decided that my truth would be that no matter what my body looked like on any given day, no matter what the tag said on my clothes, I would see myself as beautiful and worthy of love. I would treat my body this way by taking good care of it, in a healthier way. I can’t control what other people think or say about the way I look, but I do not have to accept their opinions as the truth. I set the standards of my own beauty and worth.
Just by doing this, I found so much freedom. I am still working on being confident and not caring what others think so much, but the point is that I’m working on it and that is the first step. The first step of many in a life-long journey.
So how does this all relate back to my experience with pattern shopping? Take a look around various social media platforms and you will see a movement that is taking hold within the needle arts community. The body positivity and acceptance movement. A movement that says we want to see all body sizes included and represented as beautiful. A movement that says we want to be able to make that pattern too! Makers are stepping up and saying, I’m going to contribute my talents and gifts to this corner of the world for the benefit of all. It is an effort propelled by hope for a more inclusive world.
We all know how good it feels to find that piece of clothing or outfit that fits just right, that helps us feel more confident, the one we stand back and smile in knowing we look good! When we’ve hand made that piece it feels even better. Designers within the needle arts community have the power to create more of those moments in makers’ lives. We can be on the side that leads people, of all ages, to accept their bodies in all the shapes they may take over the course of their lives.
What specifically can we do right now to help this movement gain speed? Here are a few things you can begin doing today to encourage progress:
“When you are willing to embrace your body, in every stage of life, and you commit to halting negative talk about yourself and others’ bodies, then you can influence others to do the same”
Speak Kindly to Yourself and Others
Whether you have a small amount of people you interact with daily or a large social media account, the way you talk about and carry yourself will influence others. When you are willing to embrace your body, in every stage of life, and you commit to halting negative talk about yourself and others’ bodies, then you can influence others to do the same.
Body positivity and acceptance doesn’t mean there aren’t things you wish were different on your body, nor does it mean there won’t be days you just won’t feel positive about your body. It just means you are making a conscientious decision to accept and respect the way your body is in the moment. To believe the good things you’re saying to yourself. It also means you do not value yourself or another person more or less based on outward appearance.
If you’re having trouble getting to this place, there may be things in your past or present that need attention. Ask yourself what you think the ideal body is and then ask yourself how you came to that conclusion? The answer may surprise you! Talking it out with a trusted friend or a therapist can help you begin to move in the direction of truly loving yourself.
Something I have started doing recently is testing knit and crochet patterns for the plus sizes. I offer advice on how to make a pattern fit better or offer additional directions for times the plus-sized maker may want to alter the pattern to fit their particular body. Then, I take quality photos of me modeling the piece. Yes, this part can be difficult. Getting out from behind the camera was a hurdle I had to overcome. But think about the times you’ve seen an ad for a store where a model, with your body type, looked stunning in an outfit you were considering buying. Think about how it helped you know exactly how that piece might fit your body. It may have made you feel like there actually were more people out in the world who look like you.
If you’re not quite ready to test for designers, modeling the pieces you make for yourself will offer that gift to other makers out there and help the designer promote their size inclusive pattern. You never know who is going to come across your photo in the vast world of the internet and how that one photo might help them in their journey.
Write Quality Patterns for More Sizes
I think we all can agree that feeling included is a really good feeling. Having the option to make a pattern in our size elicits that feeling. Knowing a designer didn’t preclude anyone based on their size helps more people feel welcome and safe in our community.
As an aspiring knit and crochet apparel designer, I am absolutely dedicated to not only designing for a broader range of sizes, but also making sure I am using the correct range of measurements for those sizes. While I can use my own measurements to design larger sizes, I may have trouble on the smaller end of the scale. The same can be said for a smaller person designing for plus sizes. Even people who wear the same size can have vastly different body shapes. This is where size charts can be helpful tools. One trusted site whose charts coincide with the current U.S. standards from baby to plus size is the Craft Yarn Council. Their size charts can be found here. They also feature valuable information about fit and how to measure your body.
Once your pattern is written, have every size tested to verify your measurements are going to fit your makers. Be open to suggestions that your testers may make. I have been fortunate to work with designers who welcomed my feedback and felt comfortable asking questions about how the garment fit me. Pattern testers can be found in close friends, your local knit and crochet groups, or even moderated groups on social media platforms.
If you’re wondering if I ever found a way to make that pattern work, I did. I took this moment that initially felt like a mistake and turned it into an opportunity to grow and expand my own skill set. What could have led to frustration or negative thoughts, was taken by the reigns and used as a catalyst for change. Body positivity and acceptance may start from within, but when we choose to live it outside boldly, we can begin to positively impact the lives of others.