Helping the Unsheltered This Winter

Winter is a very scary time to be an unsheltered person in the best of times. With COVID-19, this winter is even scarier.

Restrictions on occupancy, mask ordinances, and stay home orders mean there’s less space in warming shelters than ever, even as the number of the unsheltered skyrockets.

Last winter there were 479 unsheltered people in Springfield. As of writing this, there’s roughly 700.

And there’s only 65 confirmed spots in warming shelters. 65 out of 700.

In Springfield, warming shelters can only open when actual temperatures are below 32 degrees for four or more hours. 33 degrees, raining, with a windchill of 10? No shelters. October and 29 degrees (like last night)? No shelters.

Unsheltered people die every single winter from exposure. In Springfield, we hold a vigil on December 21 honoring the unsheltered people who passed in the last year. Their community hold signs with their names, the names are read, songs are sung, prayers are given, and they are mourned in the way they deserve, while the community at large complains about their very existence.

The reality the entire unsheltered community is grappling with is painful – more people are going to die this year than is typical. It’s just a fact. We don’t even have space for 10% of the unsheltered to stay warm this year.

To top that off, those 65 spots are 100% dependent on having enough volunteers. Here in Springfield, the majority of churches that open up for warming shelters and the majority of volunteers are of high risk communities in their own right. Over 65, preexisting conditions, BIPOC, low income – all people who are rightfully afraid of exposure to COVID.

It’s a sticky place. While common sense precautions are absolutely necessary – and none of us would argue against that – it means that community outreach programs are struggling to make plans for their unsheltered this winter.

The question we keep asking is, “How do we keep the most people alive we possibly can?”

It’s a complex question.

How do we keep people from freezing to death on the street while simultaneously protecting them from COVID?

How do we implement the common sense restrictions necessary to keep everyone safe from COVID while our unsheltered are sleeping?

How do we convince the people who are at the lowest risk with COVID to be volunteers so we can even have those 65 beds?

How do we keep the police from coming into a shelter and issuing mass fines because the unsheltered aren’t wearing masks while they sleep?

It sucks. These are all questions that leadership teams across the country are wrangling with right now.

So before I get into care package details, let’s go over things you can do in your own communities to help.

The most important thing is to volunteer at a warming shelter. Every city handles them differently, but in Springfield every shelter needs two volunteers per night. You take four hour shifts – four hours sleeping, four awake.

Find out if your city has cold weather outreach teams. In Springfield, these teams go to the places we know the unsheltered sleep with blankets, socks, hats, gloves, hot hands, and hot drinks.

ADVOCATE. ADVOCATE. ADVOCATE.

Springfield has been cutting down the wooded areas the unsheltered have used as tent cities in the winter for decades. This is problematic on every level.

One) the unsheltered now have nowhere to pitch their tents. They can’t pitch them on private property, the city fines them if they’re in the park, and it’s hard to find places for them to pitch them as a group. Tent cities are far safer for the unsheltered than pitching a tent alone. The police can move one tent easier than they can fifty.

Two) this pushes them into public view. When the unsheltered are visible, the “dignified citizens” throw fits about their existence.

Example: when our church was forced to move from C-Street to Chesnut, complaints to the police and city officials grew in number, because they could no longer gather in our church, out of view. Complaints grew to the point that a city official representing mid-town CALLED OUR PASTOR, and asked when we’d be moving the entire unsheltered population to Chesnut so the gentrifiers in mid-town didn’t have to see them.

Three) without the ability to pitch tents safely, the unsheltered have to sleep on the ground, or find warming shelters, which are hard to find in the best of times.

So, advocate. Research if your city is similarly stripping the places the unsheltered congregate, and fight it. Fight for affordable housing. Fight for the defunding of police departments.

“But Amanda,” you say, “how would defunding the police solve anything?”

The police are the number one institution keeping people unsheltered. They fine and arrest unsheltered people just for existing. When they can’t pay the fines, they arrest them. They are criminalized for existing.

This cycle of fines and arrests leaves the unsheltered with a record, which as we all know makes finding stable housing and a job even more impossible. (And DO NOT get me started on how getting a job as an unsheltered person is already impossible).

Defunding police departments and directing those funds into affordable (free! if we really want to dream) housing will end homelessness far faster than the police ever will.

Onto the point: care packages.

Carry a few of these with you everywhere you go, and hand them out to the unsheltered you see.

You’ll notice this list is missing a lot of the things you might expect, like hats or scarves. That’s because space is limited when you carry everything you own, and having 25 hats and scarves isn’t practical. If you want to donate hats/scarves/blankets, do so through an organization that works with the local unsheltered daily. Trust me, they’ll know what’s needed and can get it into the hands of their folks.

The items listed here are all things that need replaced often – daily, even.

First things first, get a gallon size ziploc bag, to keep things dry. They’re invaluable, so use them for your packages. Use this list for ideas of what to put in them.

– Hot Hands. We did the math, and in our org in Springfield alone we’ll go through 50,000 this winter. 6 Hot Hands can be strategically placed to keep someone from freezing to death. These literally save lives, and you can pick them up at most gas stations. Put at least 6 in your packages to guarantee the person one night of not freezing to death.

– Socks. One of our folks says that blankets are great, but socks are the most important thing to stay warm. When you’re walking all day, socks wear out and get wet fast, and having a dry pair can and will save toes.

– Gloves. Gloves also wear out quickly, get wet, and get lost.

– Cash. Just stick some cash in there. The ability to go into a business and buy a hot drink can be a lifesaver. They can sit in a warm building while they drink it, without fear of being told they’re loitering because, look! They’re drinking that coffee they just bought in the business’ mug. Also, people need money? So give them the cash and let them decide what they need.

– Cigarettes. I know, cigarettes are bad. But listen, quitting smoking is hard when everything is going right, and sometimes people need the nicotine to get through the day.If your goal is to alleviate suffering, a pack of cigarettes can go a long way for an unsheltered person who smokes. For those who don’t smoke, cigarettes can be used to barter for things they do need.

– Pads and tampons. Most outreach orgs give them out if/when we have them (and seriously, DONATE PADS!!! Almost no one does and they are quite possibly the most requested item.) but there’s never enough to go around. Try to stick a day’s supply in there.

– Condoms. Again, just do it. People have sex, help them do it safely.

– Advil/Tylenol/cold meds. Think about how you feel after an entire day outside in the winter, and then multiply that by every day.

– Chapstick and lotion. Again, cold weather wreaks havoc on the body, especially skin.

– Hand sanitizer. The little bottles with the key rings are perfect.

– Masks. Remember, washing clothes can be a rare treat, and that goes for masks, too. Having extras never hurts.

– Pet Packs. Make separate packets for people you see with dogs. Just give them a ziploc bag full of grain free dog food and treats. Keeping extra collars/leashes/harnesses in your car is good, too.

– Quarters. Going back to the clothes washing – they need quarters for laundromats.

-Kleenex Travel Pack. Because runny noses are a thing.

– Rain Poncho. Nothing is worse than being wet and cold.

– Cough Drops. Again, colds suck and cough drops help. Especially with the COVID, the last thing our people need is for the community to think they’re carrying it. Cough drops help the cough, and also keep them safe from assumptions.

– Travel Size Dry Shampoo. Another frequently requested, not often donated item.

If you can fit all of that into a ziploc bag, great! If not even including some of them is awesome. I put Hot Hands and Socks at the top of the list because they are the most important. As in “keep people from dying” important.

Please consider doing something to help your unsheltered neighbors as we head into winter. It’s the deadliest time for the unsheltered, and during this season of Covid the risks are multiplied due to the necessary precautions against the virus.

Finished Object – Sheer V Test

When I was a kid in the 90’s, I was super into figure skating. I especially loved Michelle Kwan. For one, we have the same birthday, but she was also my favorite to watch. My mom would record the US and World Championships onto VHS for me so I could “skate” on the linoleum floor of the kitchen in our single wife while I watched them.

I could never ice skate, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming I could be Michelle Kwan when I grew up.

When Jessie posted her little sneak peak of this sweater, I was sold. The silhouette and the v just screamed figure skating to me, so I jumped on it when I saw the testing call.

And boy, does it deliver. It’s definitely the most elegant thing I own, and turns anything into a stylish outfit. Trust me, I’ve worn it with leggings to the gas station and felt like a Queen.

In typical Amanda fashion, I modified the fit to get the silhouette I saw in my mind. I wanted this top to have lots of negative ease at the waist, but positive ease at the bust. It’s a drop shoulder top, and I prefer for them to fit with lots of room at the shoulders to make the drape more… drapey.

I cast on for the 2X with waist shaping, and worked extra increase rows to the stitch count for the 3X. When I make another, I’ll start the v earlier, because I would like it to sit a couple of inches lower, but that’s 100% on me and my horribly tight row gauge.

I knit the front after sleeve separation longer than the back, because boobs. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I also picked up more stitches than Jessie recommends for the sleeves, and then decreased to the recommended stitch count. Again, this was 100% to do with my awful row gauge, and the fact that I had to knit more rows than written to get the correct length.

And that’s it for modifications.

Jessie recommends using mohair for the lace weight – I totally didn’t. I’m limited to stash, and I had no mohair. But I do have a bunch of single ply lace weight I inherited from my grandma, which is what I used for this. It’s Malabrigo Lace in the colorway Black Forest. It definitely isn’t as sheer as Jessie’s samples, but it’s still lovely and subtle.

Sheer V Sweater is available now on Ravelry!

Finished Object – Lace Hem Tee Test

I’m back with another finished test knit! This is the Lace Hem Tee by Carina Spencer, and it’s already one of my most worn knits. I knew when I saw Carina’s test call that I had to make this top. I made a Mount Pleasant tee out of linen yarn last year, and have worn it at least once a week since, and this top has a similar fit with the added interest of a v neck and color pop at the hem.

This is a bottom up, drop shoulder top, with the option of three sleeve lengths. I knit the cap sleeve, because I want my handmade garments to get the most wear possible, and where I live that means cap sleeves. I can always add a cardigan to it during the cold months, but you can’t exactly remove sleeves during the warm ones.

Another design feature of this top is that it can be worn two ways: with the v neck in front or in back. Both are adorable, and give the top a different feel, which I love.

I know you’re all here to read about my modifications, but I didn’t make any substantial modifications for this top. In fact, the only one I made was to add a little length before the sleeve separation. My boobs are droopy, and I’m tall, so it’s exceedingly rare for me not to add length. But that’s it. That’s all I modified.

Drop shoulders are love ’em or hate ’em, and I am firmly in camp love ’em. Because I am narrow shouldered, there’s almost always some fiddling required to get a garment to fit me at the shoulder and the bust, but I don’t have to do that with drop shoulders. Don’t ask me why, because I have no clue, all I know is that drop shoulders don’t require the modifying that other shoulders do to fit well, and I am all about that.

Details: I knit the 54.5″ size, worn with roughly 4.5″ positive ease at the bust and 7.5″ at the waist. Carina recommends more ease, but I know what I like so I disobeyed.

The yarn used is Knit Picks Capretta. I caught a sale on bare Capretta non-superwash last summer, and I couldn’t pass it up. I dyed this yarn myself, and I am so stoked about how well it turned out. I didn’t even alternate skeins, y’all. I call that a win.

Lace Hem Tee is available on Ravelry today!

FO- Fall Rose Garden Shawl

You might see the word “shawl” in this title and think to yourself, “A shawl?? Amanda??” And yeah, I totally get that. I’ve finished 5 whole shawls in my knitting career – and 3 of those I bound off way before I was supposed to because I was just done.

But I live in this conundrum: my style aesthetic is 100% compatible with shawls, I just don’t have the patience to finish them. I’m a process knitter, not a product knitter, so often (see also: always) when I hit the 350ish stitch count I’m just over it. It’s not keeping my interest anymore, and I bind off early. It’s the same problem I have with vanilla socks.

The problem is then that the shawl doesn’t fit, and it ends up going to my daughter. I’m a big lady – 5’8″ and a US size 22/24 – so I need big shawls, and binding off when a shawl is only 70% done doesn’t end well.

Enter this test for my dear friend, Josef of Patchwork and Cakes. This is a Faroese style shawl, knit from the bottom up, with engaging yet intuitive lace panels. I’ve never knit a bottom up shawl before, and let me tell you it is a game changer for me. Having the long rows at the very beginning, when my interest is high, meant that I never once had that feeling. You know, the, “oh my GOD how is this shawl not done??” feeling.

I never lost interest in this shawl. About the time I’d start to get bored of the lace motif, there’d be a stockinette break, and then a new motif. The constantly decreasing rows was a great motivator, as well, and it was engaging and enjoyable enough that I was pretty well monogamous the whole time, with a one day break at the beginning when the long lace rows were too much for church knitting, and I spent a day knitting a baby hat instead.

I was a bit nervous about the fit going into this shawl. I had never heard of a Faroese shawl before, and after a brief google I was afraid that I would have trouble keeping it on my shoulders. Faroese shawls have a gusset in the center, and the shape is very reminiscent of a butterfly. Here’s a very poor blocking photo for reference:

Because the shawl has that downward slope at the shoulders, I was envisioning it falling off constantly. But nope! It stays put without a shawl pin, and I’ve put it through some rigorous testing now that fall has finally arrived.

Josef calls for contrasting stripes in between the sections, which break them up and add cohesion, but I’m a very bad tester and I didn’t swatch to see how my colors played together. The original plan was to use Kindred Red’s Aqua Chakra for color C, so I used it for the contrast cast on and stripe after section 1, and obviously you can’t even tell. Definitely not enough contrast. So I switched up my color C choice in the middle of the shawl. If you do better than me, and choose a color C that actually has contrast, you’ll get a result much more like Josef’s intent, as seen in her beautiful pattern photos here:

I knit the larger version of this shawl, and my finished dimensions after block #2 are 74″ for the wingspan, and 28″ for the depth. It fits so beautifully, and comes highly recommended by me. It also comes in a smaller size for you petite folx, and the pattern is fully charged and written out. I worked mine from the chart, if you’re curious, and the way Josef writes her patterns makes keeping track of color changes super simple.

The Fall Rose Garden Shawl is live on Ravelry now, so go show it some love!

P.S. you can totally wear it as a scarf, if that’s your thing.

Finished Object – Beaudelaire

This is another belated FO post, which will most likely be the norm around here. The majority of my knitting time is devoted to test knits, and I like to wait to make posts about them until the pattern is released.

This was a test for the lovely Melissa (aka Skeinanigans) which I finished just before Labor Day. It was a very quick knit, as cap sleeve crop tops are wont to be, and I have worn it so much since then that I’ve already had to depill it. Twice.

You might recognize the name if you read my post on FBA’s because Melissa included instructions for one in this pattern! As well as instructions for sleeve modifications, and bust darts. Back when I collected all that info about the problems fat knitters have with knitting designs, this is exactly the kind of step I hoped designers would take, and I am so excited that Melissa has.

About my top: I followed Melissa’s instructions for the FBA, and cast on the size L to fit my upper bust/shoulder measurement, and ended up with the stitch count for the 2X to fit my full bust/waist. I had every intention of following Melissa’s bust dart instructions, but I came to the bust darts while I was at occupational therapy with my son, and went ahead and did my own thing. But the pattern includes instructions if you don’t have your own recipe down yet!

A word (or three) of advice:

  • Block the shoulder shaping like it’s a right-wing troll on Instagram.
  • Measure your neck, don’t just make the collar for your size. Especially if you did the FBA. I was like, “Well, the L fits my shoulders so obvs it’ll fit my neck.” Yeah, no. Like I could get it on, but that was a tight freaking squeeze. I reknit the collar for the 2X, and it fits much better now.
  • Sew the collar on. I had my first collar on a ribbon, and it just wouldn’t lay right. Probably due to my tying skills, but as soon as I whip stitched the new one down it worked wonderfully.

And the kicker? This top cost less than $12. Or it would have if I got the yarn full price, but I actually caught it on a 30% off sale at Knit Picks, and spent a whopping $7.95. The main color here is Knit Picks Palette in Currant, the contrast is a mystery cake I inherited from my Grandma, but it’s pretty obviously a 75/25 2-ply sock yarn.

I love how Melissa incorporates minis into her designs. As a low income knitter, I find it really freeing to be able to buy inexpensive yarn for the main body – where the majority of the yardage is – and still be able to use a much more affordable bit of indie dyed yarn for the contrast. I did all of the ribbing plus my collar in the contrast yarn, and used around 20g. So if you’re already a sock knitter this would be a wonderful use of leftovers!

Go get this pattern!

Finished Object – Park Ruffle-O

I’m back with another FO! This is an older FO, from July, but I was holding onto it until pattern release day which is finally HERE!

This was a test knit for the inimitable Park Williams, who I love and adore. I knit this top out of Lion Brand CoBoo, and it was less than $16 for the yarn. I’ve been wearing this top about once a week since I finished it, and so far there’s no pilling and it’s getting softer every wash. The one downside is that this yarn didn’t roll as much as the yarn Park used for her sample, which I would have liked, but oh well.

My waist measurement doesn’t fit in the same size as my full bust measurement, so I cast on for the 3X and followed Park’s instructions for modifying the top to fit a larger waist vs chest to get to the stitch count for the 2X at the bust.

I also went down to a US 4 for the ruffle decrease round and 1.5″ following. There’s a gauge disparity between the ruffle, right after the decreases, and the rest of the top, and adjusting to the smaller needle helped with that.

I knit the body to 12″ instead of 10″. My boobs are droopy, and my waist is low, so I was concerned that 10″ wouldn’t be long enough to cover the ladies and reach my waist. I’m very pleased with the length, and if anything I’ll knit the ruffle longer on my next one.

After I reached the stitch count for the 2X, I decreased to the stitch count for the 1X to fit my upper bust and shoulders. Looking back, I think I should have decreased to the stitch count for the L, but hey. There’ll be more.

I didn’t block this top. I figured that a) I was going to be sweating in this top and it would need washed more often than a wool garment and b) I wouldn’t want to block it every week. I just chucked it in the washer and dryer, and it’s holding up great.

The last big modification I made was to reinforce the straps. Like the totally organized adult I am, I neglected to take ANY pictures of the process. Oops. Hopefully you can follow, but if not I might make a more in depth blog post with actual photos when I make my next Park Ruffle-o.

Knit straps have a tendency to stretch after a couple hours of wear and give you the very attractive droopy armpit that we all love so much. I fix this issue with bias tape! For this top, I used a 3/4″ bias tape, and hand sewed it the entire circumference of the armhole. I prefer bias tape because it still has a little stretch, and the edges are already finished, but you could just as easily use a cotton strip.

So go buy this fantastic pattern! I’m planning to make one with about 8″ of negative ease to wear over dresses soon. You can buy the pattern here and see my project page here.

A Full Bust Adjustment for Knit Raglan Tops (Option 1)

Disclaimer: I’m only covering raglan shaping in this post, but I am working on another post that is a companion to both this and the bust dart, and is essentially a bust dart located in the upper bust that should (theoretically) work with any construction. I haven’t attempted it in a garment yet, and I prefer to before I make a post about it, just to be sure it actually works.

Disclaimer 2: as with the bust dart post, this is going to seem like A Lot, but it’s really not. I timed myself doing the math from this post for the Flax sweater, and it took me a total of 7 minutes, and that included taking the measurements.

What is a full bust adjustment (henceforth FBA)?

A FBA is an adjustment commonly made in sewing to accommodate a larger bust compared to the shoulders.

Why are FBA’s necessary?

When a designer grades a pattern, they are typically grading for around a C cup. Sizing standards tend to be based on “averages” which are rarely accurate to the actual sizes of real human beings, and the bust size is no exception.

When you wear a D cup or higher, and pick your sweater size based off of full bust measurement, often you’re going to be knitting a size that is too large in the shoulder scye and upper bust to accommodate your full bust measurement. And when the shoulders don’t fit, the whole garment can appear ill-fitting, no matter how well the bust, waist, and hips fit. This is especially so if you have narrow shoulders.

So, let’s use my own measurements and the Craft Yarn Council’s standards as an example. Using my full bust measurement, as most patterns have you pick your size by, I’m a 2X-3X depending on the time of month. (My bust fluctuates from 49-52″.) The shoulder to shoulder measurement listed by the Craft Yarn Council for those sizes is 18″.

But my actual shoulder to shoulder measurement is 15″. That means that a pattern with 0″ of ease based on this size guide that will fit my full bust will have 3″ of positive ease in the shoulders. Ysolda’s size chart (which is significantly better than CYC’s) is much closer to my actual measurements, but they still have 1.75″-2″positive ease.

That difference isn’t such a big deal in a garment with tons of positive ease, or in a drop shoulder top, but in a fitted garment that difference can lead to a top that is baggy at the shoulders, or to bunching in the armpits.

That’s where a FBA comes in.

The short version of it is that you knit the size that will fit your neck/shoulder/upper bust measurement, and increase in the front before the full bust. This will give you more stitches in the front than in the back, since you will need more fabric for your bust than your back.

I’m going to detail the formula I use for a top down raglan. I’ve never tried to adjust this formula for any other kind of construction, but it should be possible. Just don’t quote me on that when it fails. 😂

And of course, any texture patterns or colorwork will complicate the method I’m outlining.

Full disclosure: there are multiple ways to make a FBA to your garment – this is just the method I use. I’m currently testing the Beaudelaire Top for Melissa of Skeinanigans, and she has included a FBA to the instructions that uses a different method of choosing your size than the one I’ve always used. If a FBA is something you need, you might want to pick that pattern up when it’s released to learn her method – it might well fit you better!

Measurements

As with the bust darts, there are some measurements to take. You’ll need to know your upper bust measurement (UBM), and your full bust measurement (FBM). You’ll want your upper arm measurement handy, too, because you might need to adjust for that as well. You’ll also need to know your stitch and row gauge per inch. I’ll be using my own measurements as an example throughout.

First: a note on ease. It is very important to add whatever intended ease there is into this measurement. If the size you pick based off of your UBM has 2″ of positive ease, make sure you add 2″ to your FBM or you’ll end up with 0″ ease at the full bust, which probably isn’t what you intended going into this garment.

Measurements in hand, let’s get going!

The first thing to know is that you won’t be casting on the size for your full bust measurement, but rather for your upper bust measurement. Choose your size with your upper bust measurement in mind, and jot down the ease of the size you’ll be using to keep things consistent.

For the example in this post, I’ve written out the FBA for everyone’s favorite free sweater pattern – Flax by tincanknits.

My upper bust measurement is 41″, so for my sweater I would be casting on the size L (giving me 2″ of positive ease) and increasing to my full bust measurement + 2″ (52″). My upper arm measurement is 14″, so I won’t have to do any altering for sleeve size, since the sleeve circumference of the L-4XL is 21″, but if the sleeve circumference for the size you pick is smaller than your arm circumference, you’ll need to speed up the rate of increase for the sleeves, too.

The gauge for this pattern is 18 sts and 22 rounds/4 inches. Divide those numbers by 4 to get gauge/inch and we have 4.5 sts and 5.5 rows per inch. If you don’t get a whole number when figuring your gauge, go ahead and round to the nearest number. So for my example, my gauge is 5 sts and 6 rows per inch.

Let’s get to the math. The first thing you’re going to do is subtract your upper bust measurement plus from your full bust measurement to determine how many inches you’ll need to increase. (FBM – UBM = inches to increase)

My inches increased formula would be 50 – 41 = 9″.

The next step is to translate those measurements into stitches. To figure the total number of stitches to increase, multiply your inches to increase by your st/inch gauge. (Inches to increase x sts per inch = stitches to increase)

My stitches increased formula would be 9 x 5 = 45. Notice I have an odd number? Because I rounded up when determining sts/inch gauge, I’m going to subtract 1 stitch here to get the even number I need. I have 44 total stitches to increase.

In most raglan tops, you’ll have an increase row followed by a rest row. To create the FBA, some/all of those rest rows will have increases on the front. How many? There’s some more math.

Because we are only adding increases into the front, we’ll be adding 2 stitches to every FBA row. Take your number of stitches to increase, and divide by two. (Stitches increased / two = total FBA rows)

Using my example, my formula would be 44 / 2 = 22. I’ll need to replace 22 rest rows with the FBA increase row.

Uh oh. My size only has 20 repeats of the raglan shaping, which means there’s only 20 rest rows I can substitute with the FBA increase row. What now?

Never you fear, you have options.

Option 1: sneak four extra increases in by doubling the increases on a couple of rows. Not the option I would choose, but hey! It’s an option.

Option 2: split for sleeves as indicated for the size you cast on, and add a tiny dart afterwards. You could place this dart a stitch in from the sleeve separation (not the side seams – make sure to note how many you cast on for the underarm and knit a stitch past that before increasing) and increase by one stitch at each side every other row.

Option 3: Cast on more stitches at the underarm. If you’re only short 2 or 4 stitches, this could work. Just be sure that those extra stitches are on the front side of your side seam marker.

Option 4: If you don’t mind the armpit being a little deeper than written, you can continue working the raglan, omitting the increases at the back and arms.

This is my Tūmanako pullover. For the FBA in this top I did a combination of Option 3 and 4 after I had worked all the written repeats. I worked extra repeats without increasing at the sleeves and back, and cast on extra underarm stitches. Ignore my sloppy underarm. 😂

Alternatively, you could need fewer FBA increase rows than there are repeats. In that case, you would take the total number of written repeats – total increase rows needed to find out how many repeats you should work as written before substituting the rest row with the FBA increase row. In my Beaudelaire top, I worked two repeats with the rest rows before substituting in the increase rows.

And that’s really all there is to this method. I always combine a FBA with bust darts, and you can find my post on bust darts here.

There’s Tūmanako on. This method of FBA can look kind of odd off a body because of how it changes the appearance of the raglan, but it looks just fine on. I will say that this method can produce extra fabric in the underarms if your full bust point is low, which is why I’m working on that other post! Expect that at some point in the future. I’d like to work a top with that method to at least the full bust point before I write up the post, that way I can be sure the darts don’t look off.

As always, if you need help when working this method feel free to dm me on Instagram @masteryarnsmith or email me at masteryarnsmith@gmail.com. I get back to everyone faster via those methods, so it’s the way to go.

Finished Object – Bensham Tank

I’ve been thinking about dipping my toe into blogging about my FO’s for a while now, and this seemed like a good place to start! Bensham was a test knit for the lovely Katie of the GeordieKnits Podcast, and I did some heavy fit modifications to the shoulders.

Bensham is a boxy tank with 4″ intended positive ease. It’s designed for a sport weight yarn, but I opted for a fingering weight for a number of reasons. One, it’s what I had in stash. Two, it weighs less and adds less stress to the thong straps. Three, it’s a more open fabric and better suited to Missouri summers.

If you’ve never knit a fingering weight top for a fat person before, especially a tall fat person, let me just tell you that’s a LOT of knitting. I’m a process knitter, so endless stockinette is not my favorite thing in the world, even if the basics it creates are my favorite garments to wear. The stripes helped with that a ton, especially since they were staggered.

Because Bensham is designed with positive ease and a wide neckline to create a scoop neck, I knew I would have to modify the pattern quite a bit to get the top to stay on my shoulders. I knit the 54″ size to get the intended 4″ positive ease at my full bust, but that would have given me 13″-14″ positive ease at my upper bust, and that wouldn’t have worked at all. It’s normal for me to be 4-5 sizes smaller in the shoulders than I am in the bust and waist, and given how wide set the straps are intended to be… yeah. Modifications necessary.

To start with, I measured the distance between my bra straps, and did the math with my gauge to figure out the number of stitches I would need to fit that distance. I then bound off 6 stitches at the beginning of each row for 8 rows, then decreased at each armhole every other right side row until I had that stitch count.

At that point I had decreased so many stitches that I couldn’t work the short rows for the 54″ size, so I knit the short rows for the smallest size. I also shortened the straps because the armholes were already huge thanks to all my binding off and decreasing.

I wanted to keep the scoop neck for the front, so I decreased at the armholes every other right side row until I had the stitch count for the middle size, which was the size for my upper bust/shoulder measurements, and worked the short rows as written for that size. I also shortened the front straps.

I omitted the icord bind off for the neckline, because I knew I was going to need more stability for the straps via an applied icord, and wanted everything to match. I still tried it on pre-applied icord, and boy howdy were my armholes a mess. Just in the few minutes of that try-on, the armholes were already stretching down to my waist, and the neckline was plunging, to say the least.

So I picked up stitches and did an applied icord around the armholes and neck. If you’ve never done an applied icord before they’re very simple.

This design has a very nice slipped stitch edge around the armholes and on the straps, so the only math necessary was for the areas with the bound off stitches. I picked up one stitch in each of the slipped stitches, and 2/3 of the bound off stitches (i.e. pick up 2, skip one) starting in the armpit of the armholes, and at the shoulder seam of the straps. Once I’d picked up all of the stitches, I did a cable cast on of 3 stitches. The BO repeat is simple, and if you’re unfamiliar you k2, k2tog tbl, slip those 3 stitches back onto your left needle and repeat until 3 stitches remain. Then you BO those 3 stitches, and use a duplicate stitch to seam the two ends of your icord together. If you need added stability you can thread a cotton ribbon or a thin shoelace through the icord and see the ends together before you sew it shut, but I skipped this step. For now.

And it worked! Everything looks very finished now, and I wore the tank all day yesterday with negligible growth.

Thanks to the BO on the back the armholes are still low and open, but that’s just fine with me. I knew that would happen going into the modifications and I am beyond pleased with the results.

I see this tank top becoming a staple for late spring/summer/early fall!

What Is A Sweater Quantity?

As I mentioned in my last post, I also asked my fellow fat makers how many 100g skeins of yarn it takes them to make a sweater in various yarn weights. Below are the results.

Fingering Weight

  • 3 skeins – 4
  • 4 skeins – 17
  • 5 skeins – 34
  • 6 skeins – 22
  • 7 skeins – 8
  • 8 skeins – 7
  • 9 skeins – 5
  • 10 skeins – 3
  • Can’t afford a SQ – 3

Sport Weight

  • 5 skeins – 9
  • 6 skeins – 9
  • 7 skeins – 6
  • 8 skeins – 7
  • 9 skeins – 7
  • 10 skeins – 1
  • 14 skeins – 1

DK Weight

  • 5 skeins – 6
  • 6 skeins – 10
  • 7 skeins – 16
  • 8 skeins – 21
  • 9 skeins – 13
  • 10 skeins – 11
  • 11 skeins – 3
  • 12 skeins – 3
  • 13 skeins – 1
  • Can’t afford a SQ – 4

Worsted Weight

  • 5 skeins – 2
  • 6 skeins – 8
  • 7 skeins – 9
  • 8 skeins – 12
  • 9 skeins – 10
  • 10 skeins – 17
  • 11 skeins – 8
  • 12 skeins – 6
  • 13 skeins – 1
  • Can’t afford a SQ – 7

Aran Weight

  • 5 skeins – 1
  • 6 skeins – 2
  • 7 skeins – 3
  • 8 skeins – 8
  • 9 skeins – 5
  • 10 skeins – 5
  • 11 skeins – 3
  • 12 skeins – 6
  • 13-16 skeins – 2
  • Can’t afford a SQ – 1

Bulky Weight

  • 4 skeins (for Ursa)-1
  • 5 skeins (for Ursa) – 1
  • 6-7 skeins – 2
  • 8 skeins – 4
  • 9 skeins – 3
  • 10 skeins – 5
  • 11 skeins – 3
  • 12 skeins – 6
  • 15-16 skeins – 3
  • 17 skeins – 1
  • 18 skeins – 2
  • 19-20 skeins – 1
  • Can’t afford a SQ – 4

You’ll notice the total number of people who told me they can’t afford a SQ is 19. Those 19 people are why I’ve been advocating for quantity discounts, because if there are 19 fat makers who can’t afford a SQ in my ~2000 followers, how many more are in our community?

I’ve also heard from people who only make cropped or short sleeved garments to conserve on yarn. I’ve heard from people who buy a “sweater quantity” knowing it’s not enough to make themselves a garment who then crop or knit a smaller size or change the gauge to make it work. I’ve heard from people who have never knitted themselves a garment in a single color because they can’t purchase enough of one color to do so.

Hopefully seeing these numbers can help you decide how much yarn to include in your ready to ship SQ updates.

As always, thank you for reading. I’ve posted the results to my Instagram feed if you’d like a way to share these results to your stories.

How Dyers Can Help Fat Knitters and Crocheters

Hello friends! I’ve done another survey of my fat Instagram followers, and these are the results.

I asked my fellow fat knitters and crocheters what they’d like to see indie dyers do to support size inclusivity in knitwear and crochet garment designs. The answers were fairly straightforward.

  • Be intentional in who you offer yarn support to. Make size inclusivity a requirement to receive yarn support. The Craft Yarn Council has a grading guide that covers from 28″-62″; make those sizes mandatory to receive yarn support from you.
  • Related to that: offer discounts to the testers of those designs. This will make it easier for testers to access the recommended yarn, thereby making it easier for designers to find fat testers. This will enable fat makers to see the design on bodies like their – in your yarn! – and could drive sales your way. Everyone wins!
  • If you put together kits for a certain design, PLEASE include every size. It’s more rare than you’d think, and it’s downright annoying.
  • Consider following Heather of Earl Grey Fiber Co’s lead and capping the price charged for your kits at the size XL.
  • When you’re doing a sweater quantity update be sure to include fat people in it. Don’t just call 4 skeins a SQ – be sure you have enough of each color that the largest makers can get a SQ. I’ll have the results from my survey of what constitutes a SQ in my next post.
  • If the size of your batches is inhibitive to including all sizes in a ready to ship SQ update, consider adding a dyed to order listing so fat makers can still access the yarn they want. I’ve heard from a dyer saying they don’t like to sell SQ’s larger than one dye batch, but let me be blunt here: we know how to alternate skeins, and we’ll do it if it means we get a one color sweater.
  • SAMPLES. Please have samples in larger sizes. I’ve heard from so many people that they rarely see samples in their size, and it’s heartbreaking. Have samples made to fit all body sizes, not just yours. We want to try the garments on, too.
  • And the number one thing I heard: BULK DISCOUNTS. A SQ of indie dyed yarn for a fat person can easily be $350+. That’s a lot of money for a sweater. I’ve started a highlight on my Instagram of dyers who offer quantity discounts, and if you have one please let me know so I can add you to it.

So there you have it! Some things you, as an indie dyer, can do to support fat people and size inclusivity.