Accessibility

I have hesitated for a long time about writing this post, but after reading many a thread on various social media sites – including Ravelry, I think I have to say something, because saying nothing seems to me to be abjugating my responsibility as a designer to ensure that anyone who wants to, can access my work.

First off let me say that I am incredibly thankful for Ravelry, which I joined right at the beginning (April 2007). Without Rav I would not have hooked up with any of the people that I now have the privilege to call my online friends and I will be forever grateful to Cassidy for coding and including a Guernsey flag just for little ol me. Without Ravelry I would not have started designing or have been afforded the design opportunities that I have been over the years.

Now back in the day when there were only a few thousand of us and there was a waiting list because they couldn’t add too many people at once because the servers couldn’t stand the strain, requests like mine were easier to achieve. Now that the population of the site has topped 9 million – how is that even possible! – it is always going to be a case of you can’t please all of the people all of the time and I will be honest, at the start of the furore about nu-rav it was very easy to dismiss a lot of the noise as people not liking change (who does).

Working in IT for the day job I am well aware that most people do not like things to change and can get very vocal when their favourite software/website moves things around. BUT. After a while everyone finds the bits they moved and the noise dies down. BUT in this case it seems this is not the case, because in this case it appears that some of the changes (be they colours or changes to the code or whatever it is) are actually making it impossible for some users to use the site. There are reports of constant migraines and other ocular issues for a start and for whatever their reasons the Ravelry people seem unable or unwilling to address them.

Now let me say straight off the bat that I myself am experiencing no issues with any of the new Ravelry designs and actually love the dark mode (my inner goth is cheering here) and we must remember that Ravelry is a community site, is free and belongs to the creators and it is entirely their prerogative as to whether they address these issues/engage with the people affected etc etc. That is not what this post is about.

What this whole situation has brought into focus for me is best summed up by the Serenity prayer

I do not have it within my remit to wave a magic wand and fix this for the people affected, I hope by making this post that I am showing the courage to do what I can to help and as for wisdom, those who know me will know I don’t have a lot of that, but I like to think that I do have a lot of empathy ( some would say too much, but that is another post for another day).

It is going to take sometime because of the day job, but I have started the process of making all of my designs available via Payhip for all those people who are unable to access them on Ravelry. This is going to take a while – I was shocked to find that I have over 200 designs up there!

I am starting with my most bought/downloaded designs and will work my way down the list, which predictably for those who know me, has been put into a spreadsheet and annotated to within an inch of it’s life as to what should go up first and why.

So the first and as yet only design up is one of my first designs for The ladies from Unique Sheep, The Secret Garden Gradiance shawl. This was designed back in 2009 when they were first dipping their toes into a new way of dyeing yarn to gradually change the colours across a number of skeins of yarn – the original, to to my mind still the best, of the gradience yarns around. We set it up as a mystery KAL and it went on to become the first of many in our still going Classic Children’s book series.

The Secret Garden – Peacock Gradience colourway

If you are interested you can get it here. there will be others and if you have any particular requests please let me know so they can “jump the queue”.

Some will see this post as jumping on the band wagon and a new marketing opportunity. It isn’t. It has taken quite a bit of time and effort to get this all up and running that has yet to show any reward. To be honest I could have just kept my head below the parapet and continued just selling on Ravelry, who’s system is pretty effortless on my part.

I have done this because I believe in accessibility, not just to knitting patterns on the web, but also wheelchair ramps in public spaces, and accommodations for others with numerous other issues that impact on their ability to have a “normal” way of life.

Hopefully the Nu-Rav issues will eventually be fixed, it is heartbreaking to see people who have been on there for more than 10 years saying their goodbyes on the site as the classic skin was retired because they feel they cannot risk their health on the new look site. In the meantime I hope I have done my part, little though it is, to include those people in my own way.

Onwards!

A la prochaine!

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