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Ravelry, Accessibility and Me

If you aren’t sure what’s been going on with Ravelry since June, my Ravelry and Accessibility post gives a run down.

It’s now three months since Ravelry’s disastrous release of their new design and there have been no substantial changes since the option was given for us to change back to Classic. Users who post on the “For The Love of Ravelry” forum asking about accessibility and the hiring of a specialist in accessibility have continued to be locked and hidden, with posters threatened with temporary r permanent bans if they continue to post. There have been no updates on the site relating to accessibility for the past month. The only update in the last month has been to announce they have a new test feature called “Swatches” and they have also posted about the emPower People project, a craftivism project “aimed at uniting crafters of all mediums to engage people across communities to spark conversation, engagement, and action in the political process to uphold social justice and human rights.” The irony of posting about “upholding social justice and human rights” while simultaneously silencing the users that they have excluded from their site has been lost on no one.

A piece of knitting in yellow yarn
Photo by Sarah Claeys on Unsplash⁠

In the last couple of weeks, the Ravelry team have released a new “swatch” for the site called Herdwick. This swatch has been offered to “several thousand” Classic Ravelry users. From the one screenshot I’ve seen of a forum page, it adds a light grey background behind the forum post. I believe it’s also supposed to remove drop shadows and lighten the buttons. The people given this swatch have been told to keep in confidential, so there’s not much information out there. I’ve heard from some people (who did not get migraines but just preferred the classic look) that it was fine, and from others that it still caused migraines for them, so it’s hard to know how much this alternate look is going to help anyone. More concerning is the fact that users were told to keep it confidential, and that users were only asked to report bugs, where the “Herdwick theme” was not applied properly, and that they were not invited to get any feedback on the accessibility of the theme. Until there’s more information out there it’s hard to judge, but the continuing secrecy makes me deeply uncomfortable.

As far as my own plans to leave Ravelry, I am still looking at leaving, but I will be keeping my patterns on there until January. I’ve been releasing my Four Seasons of Socks collection one pattern at a time on Ravelry since April and I know that several of you have been buying it that way, so I want to give everyone a chance to finish getting the patterns that way, as it’s what I promised originally. The last pattern in the collection will be out in December. If you’re unable (or don’t want) to use Ravelry, and you’ve already bought part of the collection do send me a message, and I’ll sort you out with a discount for my website!

I’m still working on improving how my own site handles accessibility. I’ve stopped the automatic scrolling through my patterns on the front page and I’ve added an accessibility widget from Userway. The widget isn’t perfect but it will let you increase the font size (doing this will cause the links at the top in desktop view to overlap), change font, increase font spacing, set it to dark mode and it has a read-aloud feature. I’m still working my way through my pattern pages, adding in alt text and making everything as accessible as I can within Squarespace’s structure. I know that my Payhip cart and check out page aren’t the easiest to read and Userway can’t interact with them (probably because they are both add-ons to my site). I will see if there’s anything else I can do to improve them, but at the moment I really need a sales platform that can handle EU VAT for me. I’ve also heard from another designer that they’ve been talking to the (two-person) team at Payhip, and they are willing to increase accessibility, so hopefully there will be changes soon!

I’ve added Stripe to Payhip so you now have the choice between Paypal and Stripe when you’re buying through my site – judging by my last pattern release it’s been a popular option!

I’ve also started a Patreon page and I’d really appreciate it if you checked it out! I’ve tried to set it up with a variety of pricing options and I’d be really grateful for any support you can give! I work two to three months in the future when I’m designing – by the time I start showing you WIP photos on IG/FB the pattern has been knit, written, usually tech edited and its sometimes even entered testing already! Patreons at the lowest level (called Garter Stitch) will get to see what I’m working on as I’m working on it, get behind the scenes info and get my eternal gratitude! The higher levels will get to choose new tutorials for me to produce (Stocking Stitch) and even get input into new designs that I’m working on (like choosing between two sketches or picking lace vs cables (this tier is called Ribbing)). And other tiers (Lace, Cables and Brioche) give these benefits alongside a pattern of your choice every month. If it proves popular, I may add further tiers with benefits like early access to my patterns!

My main goal with Patreon is to cover my monthly costs, which will give me a lot more freedom to follow my own path. I’d also love to build up a little community around my Patreon page, so I can make more of the patterns you really enjoy and want to see!

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About Me

I’m Liz and I'm a Scottish Knitwear designer! I design and write knitting patterns for accessories, produce tutorials and write about what I do!
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