Facebook for Knitters

Every other Tuesday there's a group of really amazing knitters who meet at a bar near my house. And, when I say "near" I mean, like, two blocks away. This is fantastic for a number of reasons, including:
  • I can walk there.
  • I can drink there.
  • I can eat there (the bar has awesome food.)
  • I can commiserate with other knitters.
Plus, you know that any group of women who choose to meet at a bar are going to be fun...

One night the group was meeting and there was a woman there who was a bit of a Luddite. She lived in the country, home-schooled her kids, and did a whole lot of do-it-yourself stuff like knitting. She had a computer but didn't use it for much other than home-school work and to get info for her crafts and projects.

The group was having an animated conversation about Facebook when, suddenly, our country friend piped up and said "So...Facebook? That's like Ravelry for non-knitters, right?"

And...all the knitters and crocheters who read this blog are laughing their heads off right now.

For the uninitiated, Ravelry.com is an amazing social network for knitters and crocheters. Like any social network you build a profile page, you "friend" others, you join groups, you participate in discussion threads, etc. Unlike other social networks, Ravelry is also a repository for information about your yarn and needle stash and is a resource for thousands upon thousands of patterns.

The patterns section is where Ravelry really transcends any normal social networking site. This is where social networking meets super-valuable content. The way it works is this:
  • You search for a pattern - say...cardigan sweaters or baby blankets
  • You narrow your pattern search with a variety of choices including whether or not the patterns is free.
  • You scroll through the huge list of patterns that the search returns - most with thumbnail photos so you can actually see what the item looks like when it's done.
  • You pick one you like and, once on the pattern's "homepage" (which is nothing more than the project page of the first person to post their work on this pattern,) you get tons of information about the pattern itself.
  • At this point, you can download the pattern, "favorite" it, or put it in your "to do" queue.
  • Finally, (here's the best part) you can click a tab called "projects" and see other people's versions of the same pattern!  
The "projects" tab is invaluable beyond belief. You can see the end result of other people's efforts and get tips for making the pattern better/easier/etc.

Yes, Cassandra has more projects than me.
My pathetic project page

As I'm sure you all are aware, I haven't really met a social network I didn't like (except maybe MySpace.) But most are about socializing (Facebook) or networking (LinkedIn) - as the name would imply. Ravelry is, to my knowledge, the only social networking site that does it all - socializing, networking, information storage, downloadable content, education, and on, and on, and on.

So, for the techy folks in our audience, you need to know about this site because it's broken new ground. For the crafters, you need to go out there and join (if you haven't already.)  Find me and friend me! My Ravelry handle is "alexinmadison" and Cassandra's is "SpookyRedHead."

- Alex

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