Friday, October 18, 2013


The intention of this post is to show how I use it and what I look for.  Please keep that in mind if this sounds in your ears of a tangent.  It is a gift and something I wish those that participated in could appreciate and use more.

Ravelry is a wonderful example of 'Crowd Sourcing' which has been a term used in TED talks and all kinds of blogs about everything. What it is describing are projects, like websites but lots of other community-based efforts, that are put together based on the simplest of ideas and invitations to contribute are sent out as far as can be spread, in some cases world-wide. Very few people are paid employees of the projects, yet contributors may be well-known names or nobody anybody has ever heard of, and it is what they contribute that makes the success of the project.  In the case of Ravelry, it is the shear wealth of information about anything fiber related that has made it as truly awesome as it is and guarantees it's continued success.  

I LOVE Ravelry.  I'm in that website more than my own e-mail. Actually, as I have two e-mail accounts, one for just junk, so I can safely say, I'm in Ravelry more that BOTH of my e-mail accounts.  I could probably toss in Twitter into that mix, but I don't want to ignite a #hashtag riot, so let's not.

Here's what I do with it:  First thing in the morning, I log in. Yes, before checking my e-mail, because I'm hoping to see what's new in fiber-land today.  I look first to see if there are any personal messages for me, usually not, but it's sweet when there is one and makes me feel like a child who's waited for something in the mail with his name on it.  I see what's on the front page, which lately has been awesome because the last few weeks the Ravelry crew has made a point of changing the message on that front page whether it's a new post about features you can use or what is giving them the fiber-tickles! For instance, there was a post recently that shared mother/child sweater sets and family sets, which were admittedly pretty awesome, and clearly points out knitters who have nothing better to do than torture those under their own roof.  My kind of people.

I then click on the forum tabs to see if anyone has posted in the groups I monitor.  Sometimes there's a message for me there, as a response to something I'd posted already, and requires or desires my response.  { Personal note:  I'm learning to discern when I don't have to have the last word, which is a personal growth goal that I'm proud of. }  Sometimes just scrolling through the forums is reminding me when there's new blogposts or podcast episodes that I'm following.  Most of the fiber events I'm aware of are listed in the forums as well.  I follow a few designers and new designs show up there or if there are discounts being offered, or Knit-A-Longs (abbreviated KAL) and the same with crochet (CAL) and spinning (SAL), all comes up there.

After checking out the forums, I can check what my 'friends' are doing.  I put quotes on there because these are fiber people I mostly don't know and have never met.  Is that strange?  I hope not, when you see why.  Most of the fibery people in my friends list on Ravelry are designers or other crafters who are a voice somewhere in the fiber world.  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is in there, Franklin Habit, Norah Gaughan, Veronica Van (of Dream in Color Yarns), Kathy Ellis (of WEBS), Meg Swansen, the ladies of 2 Knit Lit Chicks podcast, Knotty Girls podcast, Heather Ordover of Craftlit.....  My list isn't very long, but what's cool about this part of Ravelry is that everytime one of this folks post, comment or like something on Ravelry, I get to see it by clicking the Activity tab.  Everytime they post something on their blog (and a lot of these folks who have podcasts are smart enough to make a blogpost that there's a new episode) I see that, too, without having to wait for the share on Twitter or Facebook, by clicking the next tab marked Friend's Blogs.  I LOVE THAT PAGE!

Now, my closer crafter folk, I can almost just as easily keep up on what they are working on by going to the groups we are mutually interested in.  For instance, many of them I have hung out with in a Local Yarn Store (abreviated LYS).  It's pretty super cool to be able to go to that group and right at the front page, see what topics are currently being discussed, what is being stashed there, and recently shared projects.  I have a little more concern to mention about that later. Ravelry is a tool that a fiber person can use to promote their business and those of us that love and wish to support those business in ways BEYOND the money spent there should be cognizant of and pay attention to how they can do so.

I will come back to Ravelry throughout the day to look at the same things or find new stuff, like patterns or yarns or tools, not just shopping for these things but finding out how each of these things worked out for others who've used them.

The next thing I do is check my personal pages.  I look and see if there's been any activity on my own designs.  This is a new thing to me and it's has been both depressing and exhilarating but it always keeps me aware.  I started posting designs just a short time ago in Ravelry.  I can go to the page of my designs and see how many times each one has been 'favorited' and 'queued' which means liked and planned for future projects.  I can go from there to my Pro Account and see which of my designs have been purchased.

The thing I wish is that those that click 'favorite' or 'queued' or have purchased the pattern were those that are vocal in what they do on Ravelry.  Many folks never post new projects or yarns, or comment in forums.  It surprises me to itty-bitty pieces when I run across a Ravelry user who has been a member for long years (I've been there since 2008 but find a lot folks who've been there longer), who have never shared more than their screen name there (automatically their profile shows what country the live in and when they became a member) they have liked and listed lots of things, and have not had something to comment about anything.  Three million plus members on this wonderful website and somehow I continually find folks that don't wish to share their love of fiber craft.

I'm sure there are lots of other designers who feel the same way when they are starting out, but it's the Local Yarn Store owners I feel the most pity for, as they work so hard to advertise, gather a support network, host events like trunk shows, classes and knit groups, only to check their profiles on this great website and see that their customers couldn't bother to post their wonderful purchases on the website and say where it was they purchased it, even though they immediately cast on the new project the minute they got home and had to share their excitement over that!  Wanna see what your shop has offered? Check out their page on Ravelry.  You should be able to see every skein of yarn every member of Ravelry has ever purchased at that store, but often I find that there are very few stash photos or yarns listed has having been purchased there.  That has to be incredibly depressing for a store owner to see.

There are some who share everything they are currently working on with EVERY group they are part of, which can be innocently clicking them all regardless (I am aware of this because of monitoring a couple of specific groups, which are not shops but there are stash and project photos posted there which have VERY LITTLE if anything to do with those groups), but if you're in a shop's group that is struggling (as I'm sure is common these days) posting stash photos of something you purchased elsewhere isn't helping that shop!  Of course, as with my 'Friendslist' you can see what the activity is of the members with another click of a tab, but it's not right there on the front page for the LYS group, and I'm thinking a lot of folks don't look at that tab.  I know that I do to keep up with those in my local acquaintance, but can't imagine that most do.

I used to get frustrated with the profile pictures.  Everyone uses a screen name, so when you show up to a gathering you don't know that the person you're walking past is someone you've been paying attention to on Ravelry.  I used to beg people at knit night to post profile pictures so I could get to know them by name and recognize them when I got to see them.  I am so tickled that I can put a name to a face!  

What I've come to realize is this is a great source for WHAT IS CONTRIBUTED and not for what's not there.  I appreciate what I can find there, and what I can find in the face-to-face reality and love everything I can learn about my favorite subject.

What I can't learn, I may not ever need.

PS.  If you're on Ravelry, my username is wearingpurple

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