New standard industry size: FAT

I went to the Vogue Knitting Spring Fashion Show at the Lion Brand Studio in NYC last night.   Here’s the email I had to send this morning:


I was at the Fashion Show at the Lion Brand Studio last night in NYC.  I have a big complaint that left me with a very sour taste in my mouth.

After the show the studio’s manager, Patty Lyons, stood with the rest of the Vogue Knitting staff and answered questions.  One question was “what’s the difference between a medium in one pattern and a medium in another?”  A Vogue rep said you should really go by the inches.

Ms. Lyons chimed in and said, “Yes, because whether you’re small, medium, large or FAT, you should go by the measurements in the specs.”  She even held her arms out wide when she said the word “fat.”  I was and still am very upset over this comment.  Most of the audience were larger women (as opposed to super thin).  I myself am one of those women who is usually a 1X.

I cannot believe that the manager of a store of such a major brand such as Lion Brand would make such a repulsive and hurtful comment.

I had never been to the studio until last night and, while I was considering staying and shopping for yarn for some of the projects, I preferred to leave immediately and I doubt I will ever return.  I certainly would not recommend anyone to the store either.


Rosi Garmendia

cc:  Vogue Knitting (via their website)
Lion Brand Yarns (via the Lion Brand website)

60 thoughts on “New standard industry size: FAT”

  1. How RUDE! I’m proud of you for sending that letter. I can’t say that I would’ve had the cojones to express myself that way but I’m glad you did. Preach on.

  2. Wow…how inconsiderate and insensitive. Some people are missing that filter from their brain to their mouth…

  3. Didn’t you know it’s ok for people to make disparaging remarks about us “fluffy” ladies? Yeah, apparently we’re all a jolly sort and don’t mind.

    Yeah, right.

  4. I’ve met Patty twice at LBS and she has struck me as a little, well, condescending at times. I’m not a big fan of the Lion Brand Studio because of her attitude to tell the truth. Kudos on not letting that one go past. You might want to post a Ravelry thread also.

  5. Dear Ms. Garmendia,

    I just got your e-mail, and I’d like to publicly apologize. I was so saddened that I said anything to offend you or to ruin your evening. I do not remember making the comment, but if I did I am truly sorry that I made a careless and hurtful comment.



  6. Patty, offering an apology, then saying you don’t remember saying it, but if you did… That’s essentially a non-apology. Take ownership of the words that come out of your mouth and try and make a concerted effort, going forth, to think before you speak. You are not just representing a shop now, you are representing a brand!

  7. An appropriate amends is, I was wrong when I …………… I am very sorry that I hurt your feelings when I ……………………, and what can I do to make things right!!!! That is a proper amends, not I dont remember but………….
    Apology has not been offered in my opinion!

  8. She included FAT, but left out SKELETAL (which is the size smaller than small)? Unbelievable.

    Good for you for writing. That comment was totally inappropriate, no matter what.

  9. I’ve experienced Patty several times-at The Point and now Lion Brand.
    I stopped going to The Point while she was there and I make myself scarce now at Lion Brand.
    I have taken several knitting and crochet classes at Lion Brand and the knitting teacher and crochet teacher are awesome (Will and Tracey are amazing instructors! They both knit and crochet)-BUT everyone seems to be on edge when Patty is around.
    I’ve been there when she was there, and I’ve been there when she wasn’t there-the difference is obvious!
    I was there on Thursday and Patty did make the comment!!!!
    As usual, she thinks she’s being funny and hip with her flippant comments, but she’s really just rude!
    A friend of mine was thinking about applying to work there, but once she found out Patty was the manager, she changed her mind!
    Patty is the MANAGER, NOT the OWNER!
    She needs to step back, keep her place and work on her ‘people skills’.

  10. Fat, huh? Big girls need more yarn per garment than anorexic sticks, so you’d think people who sell yarn would be extra nice…

    There is a fat acceptance movement, though… they’re trying to reclaim the word “fat” as something that describes a state of being they experience as positive. Having known quite a number of happy, beautiful large women, I can see why this is a good idea. I also see that the word “fat” wasn’t used in a flattering way in this context.

  11. Somebody really needs to let David Blumenthal (The Owner) of Lion Brand know what is going on…..
    His email address is:
    You can also call the main #: (201) 804-3999 and voice complaints!
    Call after hours and follow the prompt for the company directory to get his direct line.

  12. Kudos to you for speaking up. That comment was unacceptable no matter how you slice it, and as an extra large knitter myself I’m a) appalled that you were spoken to that way and b) very glad that you stood up for yourself.
    Am agreed with turtlegirl76 and Denise D, an apology usually requires first *admitting you were at fault.*
    I’m all about reclaiming the word fat – but this? not it.

  13. You know, there was no reason for Patty to even say anything!
    The staff of Vogue Knitting was handling the questions.
    Patty does have a very annoying habit of putting her mouth into everything…..I was at the Studio one day and one of the staff members was explaining something to a customer and Patty rudely interrupted and almost tried to undermine what the staff member said!
    There were alot of problems with her at THE POINT and it seems like she is wreaking havoc at Lion Brand too!

  14. I’ve met Patty, and while she is not the warmest of people, i’ve never had any bad dealing.

    I have learned, (in my old age) to call someone, right then and there, to make them conscious of their words.. (and not let them weasle out, with a mealy mouthed half apology later.)

    when some one says something rude, or racist, or sexist.. Challenge them. right then and there.(and if you are not the ‘target’ group, well all the more reason to challenge them.. (since you aren’t stunned and reeling from the psychic blow)

    when some one get physical on crowded subway, ANNOUNCE: this guy in the blue coat, yellow hat, (what ever) is a creep and keeps touching me.
    (and see what one comes to his defence, and lots of decent honest guys will watch out for you.. (and move the creep away from any woman)
    sometimes if you are lucky there is cop on the train..)

    Its hard to be hurt and re-act with rightousness.. (and not with pain) but it really helps–and every time you do it, it gets easier..

    and mealymouthed patty, is, i suspect, saying to herself, well, they are fat, and what wrong with saying that…

    if she feels that way, make her defend her position publicly–and right at the time she makes a statement like that.

  15. stunning. Sounds like an email campaign to Lion Brand is in order – they can’t afford to have this kind of insensitivity fronting their products. Can someone post their email-address?

    ~ hb33 ~

  16. I just have to say – what’s the problem with the word “fat”? I’m a fat person – I’m not fluffy, plus-sized, queen-sized or any of those other silly psuedonyms – I’m a fat woman. Get used to the word, claim it, wear it as a badge of pride, ask for fat clothes, fat patterns, fat shoes – the more you use the word the less you have to creep around apologising indirectly for taking up space. Because that’s what you are doing when you don’t name it.

  17. Christine:

    If you’re comfortable with people calling you “fat,” more power to you. But it is completely unacceptable for someone to call anyone above a size large “fat.” Some people may need to wear an XL, because they have large arms or breasts, and not necessarily because they are obese. Also, those that “creep around apologizing indirectly for taking up space” have a VERY low self-esteem and some may do that even if they aren’t overweight. I, for one, love myself the way I am: Extra Fabulous.

    By all the comments that I have received about the attitude of Ms. Lyons, it is apparent that her reputation precedes her. Maybe what she needs is a management course in Political Correctness and attitude towards employees and customers.

  18. I have a point to make about what Rosi G. wrote about those who “creep around apologizing indirectly for taking up space.” Take a look at people. Look at how people fill up space. There are gender differences that aren’t physiological. Men take up more space. They spread out, literally. Some of us may be creeping around apologizing indirectly, but a lot of us are not even aware of keeping our elbows at our sides and our legs together. It’s a reflection of our relative status or at the least, strong socialization that shows in our body language.

  19. Wait, I was at that show as well and sitting right in the front and I do not remember the comment going out quite like that. I certainly did not get the impression that Mrs. Lyons was being inappropriate. Everyone is entitled to their opinion so I cannot say for sure that Mrs. Garmendia was completely wrong but, the other side should be represented. Granted I am on of the “super thin” people that were underrepresented in the gartering but I felt there were all shapes and sizes there. I would hope that no one would be discouraged to visit a store just based on one person negative experience.

  20. This is really upsetting, but asking for apologies is not going to get anything in the way of results, which going by what I’ve read, means that this Patty person needs an attitude adjustment. LionBrand (or anybusiness) will listen to the bottom line. If an employee is hurting the store’s income, the owners will do something about it. So write to the owner and tell him you’re not shopping at LionBrand or the website until their rude, insensitive, overbearing employee is “repaired” or removed. Enough emails like that, and results will follow.
    I for one, was planning a big spree there later this week, but after reading this, no way. I knit to enjoy myself and relax, I don’t want to be dealing with nasty negative energy in a yarn shop.

  21. “But it is completely unacceptable for someone to call anyone above a size large “fat.” Some people may need to wear an XL, because they have large arms or breasts, and not necessarily because they are obese.”

    This comment, along with many others above, precisely articulates the way in which people internalize fatphobia. Why is it not acceptable to call someone fat? Why is it deemed rude? Why does the descriptor “fat” carry a value judgement that “thin” doesn’t?

    And why is “fat” (a descriptive word referring to the way someone’s body appears) automatically equated with “obese” (a medical term denoting a level of fat that is unhealthy)?

    Some people who wear a size XL are fat. Some people who wear a size L are fat, too. Fat people come in all shapes and sizes. Why is it necessary to list the reasons why someone could wear the same size as a fat person but not be fat? It alienates and others those of us who have fat bodies.

  22. Andree, et al:
    the problem is
    ONE of these words is not like the others:
    small, medium, large, FAT

    If she has said:
    anorexic, skinny, about average, big, zaftic.
    or skeletal, tiny, normal, getting up there and fat..

    but no, she singled out extra large. and substituted the word FAT.

    size are petite, small, medium, large, extra large and extra, extra large.

    and some LARGE women? well they are not large. they are 5’9′ or 6′ foot tall, they wear 38/c or 38/d and have 30 inch waists, and 44 inch hips, and are well proportioned.. they wear extra large, and they aren’t fat. and no one should be labeling them.

    (Ok so i am not one of them.. (not quite as Sylvia would say, matronly petite, (since i am 5′ 5″ and not really short) but Like King Henry.. i am close to being as wide around as i am tall (well that’s a bit of an exageration too.)

    the problem with the word FAT is in the context..
    a petite (short and thin) woman calling women at the other end of the scale a word loaded with negative values.

    Anne Modisett (a 6 foot tall women) has spoken about it.. women are supposed to be in their place (and their place isn’t supposed to take up so much room..a tall woman is OUT OF PLACE (being tall is not considered a attribute.. unless you are a male..
    For women, being BIG =Being bad.

    we woman get enough negative messages about our size.. we don’t need other women feeding this negative thought process.

  23. “Fat” isn’t a bad word. It’s an adjective, a descriptor. Like “tall”, or “brunette”, or “funny”. It’s not an inherently ugly or hateful word; it only becomes so when you choose to be offended. Offended by an adjective. YOU are making the word “fat” ugly and hateful; without your baggage, it’s a neutral description.

    It’s unfortunate that so many women hate their bodies so much. I’d encourage you to do some work in this area.

    And heaven help us all from women who infantalize themselves and others by using the word “fluffy”, as if we were pets, or livestock, or bedding. *shudder*

  24. Thankfully, there are many other places in the knitting world that offer patterns and support to knitters of ALL SIZES! Rather than focus on one ill-mannered and poorly-thought-out comment, I’d get my patterns from, and the Interweave publications, all of which offer a larger range of sizes than Vogue. And shop at yarn shops where larger knitters are welcomed and treated with respect.

    And go buy “Big Girl Knits” and “More Big Girl Knits” so that the knitting industry will hear our dollars voting!!

  25. I’m going to take up knitting just so I can support this lady. You obese whalers need to shut up and quit complaining. You’re fat. Lose weight. Or don’t, but PLEASE shut the hell up.

  26. Diane, you are either a good friend of the woman in question or a person who has nothing better to do than to talk shit on random blogs. Please refrain from leaving distasteful comments on my blog. I approved this comment only so people can see how ridiculous you sound.

  27. Lion Brand Yarn published one of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen of Valerie Lefkowitz, a plus-size model. She was about a size 18 then, and looked it (positively luscious). Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any new photos of her on the site since then. I have often wished yarn companies would hire more plus-size models to display finished projects, considering how many plus-size knitters and crocheters there are.

    Anyway, I’m glad you wrote a letter. She might not have meant any harm, but still…

  28. Wow. Well, yet another reason to ***NOT*** buy Lion Brand yarn. As if the yucky acrylic didn’t feel bad enough in my hands, I’ll take my big, FAT a$$ and shop elsewhere.

  29. I propose we now evaluate a persons lack of intelligence like this: A little stupid, stupid, very stupid and Patty. When you say “Patty”, you must cross your eyes and stick out your tongue.

    May Patty gain 100 pounds overnight and be forced to wear mint green polyester pull-on pants for the rest of her days.

  30. Try to find something else to worry about. I’m fat, you’re fat. We’re all fat. Not fluffy, not hefty, not curvy. Fat Fat Fat.

  31. Good for you Rosie G. I am glad that you spoke up. It is really bad manners. For those of you who have a problem with Rosie G. and her comments to Vogue and Lionbrand, you really need to take a look at yourself. Ask yourself what would hurt your feelings or what would mis-represent you? Would you want someone to mis-represent you in any way. People need to realize that EVERYONE is different. Not everyone can fit in a size 2. I myself am overweight, but I would not like people to call me fat either. If I were a size 2 in my body frame people would probably think I am on drugs and I would not lik to be mis-represented in that way either. None-the-less, what this boils down to is the manager was rude and insensative. From the majority of the comments from those that live in the area, they know her pretty well. I also think she needs customer service classes and not just one.

  32. I just want to say how disappointed I am that, in a post about weight ignorance and inappropriate comments, so many people are throwing around the term “anorexic.” Just because someone is thin or even underweight does not mean that they are anorexic. Anorexia is also a disorder, and to berate someone for being anorexic, or to accuse someone who is skinny of being anorexic, is really offensive. Please don’t react to harmful comments about weight by attacking people on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s just as bad.

  33. I actually interviewed with Patty earlier this year. I am a FIT trained textile designer with an awesome portfolio of woven, felted, and crocheted items. I have retail experience AND I have been teaching for eight years. I was seeking a p/t position for a year while we settled into our new home. She was sort of snippy to me during the interview (maybe because I’m only a beginning knitter? ) And yes I’m a plus size girl. Hard to say if that was why. Are all the employees there thin?

  34. And all this time I thought it was age discrimination. She’s rude to me because I’m fat,not because I’m old.

  35. wow.. just wow. first of all, thank goodness you wrote that letter! i was supposed to go there in a few weeks for a meetup but i think i’ll pass now. let alone another “fat” person enter their oh so precious space and spend their dirty money there. I’m heavy… i refer to myself as fat only when in a bad mood or when i can’t find clothes that fit. but as the people around me tell me i’m curvy. (my bf jokes that women who are skinny are bags of antlers). I honestly cannot believe that someone skinny would do that to a group. I’m sure at the moment she thought it was a joke… but honestly if you want to impress a group of women with your humor… don’t go insulting a whole lot of them. I mean, if she was heavy herself, and pointed at herself when she said fat, would it have been half as upsetting? i’ve learned its like one of those words that only those who fit the “profile” for can say. as for diane who said she’d take up knitting to support patty. great… you spend your money there so we don’t have to. as for calling everyone obese whalers, if you really think we that fat, then the thought of us ganging up on you too would be quite scary wouldn’t it.
    Brings back a memory from my middle school days. I had a very very heavyset teacher who was quite comfortable with himself. everytime a kid acted up or made fun of him, he threatened (he was joking i learned) he’d sit on them. i’m just picturing a knitting group sitting…

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