The Business of Knitting.

The vendors get me every time...
This past Saturday was the Madison Knitter's Guild Annual Knit-In. This is a one-day extravaganza of yarn hobbies - specifically knitting, crocheting, and spinning. There are classes and speakers and a nice-sized vendor room (which is the siren that hypnotizes me every time.)

The Madison Knitter's Guild has been around a while and has a large, active membership. As a result, they're able to attract incredibly good guests to their monthly meetings and nation/international yarn-centric folks for the Knit-In. Granted this doesn't mean much to the average bear but, if you're a yarn hobbiest, names like The Mason-Dixon Girls or The Yarn Harlot or The Team from Ravelry make you weak in the knees. These are our celebrities (among many others) and, because knitters are all pretty friendly, these folks are actually accessible while being famous within our community. This is a huge draw.

The Mason-Dixon Girls @ 2010 Knit-In (Madison)

This year's "celebrity speaker" was the core team from We've spoken about the site a lot here at Ooo! Shiny!  There are myriad reasons to sing the praises of Ravelry - not the least of which is how incredibly well-thought-out the site is - so the possibility of hearing the founders and operators of the site speak was pretty irresistible.

The lovely folks from Ravelry
These are, essentially, kids (well, they're about 1/2 my age) who came up with a good idea, developed it a bit, and then took its evolution so slowly that they were able to make good business decisions along the way. While stumbling forward they've kept their values and their humility and they are still seemingly shocked at their own success. And this is my one, huge complaint...

I realize that, when you're consumed by a project it's easy to have a skewed perspective, but it's really annoying to learn that they are SO humble about their project that they don't even seem to realize that they've changed the face of our community. I have no idea HOW they can't know this, but they don't - or, at least, they put on that they don't. As a business person, this drives me insane because all I can see is a giant pile of opportunity being approached with a very zen-like, slow-moving attitude.

I want them to have a little swagger and some better business acumen and make a boat-load of money. At this point, they seem so devoid of actual strategy (other than ensuring that the site stays free and that they don't bum anyone out) that I'm afraid that they're ripe for a buyout. And that would suck because we'll lose the one thing that makes Ravelry really different from, say, Facebook - the values of the owners.

Of course, the right buyer would make them really, really rich and, in the end, they really deserve that.

- Alex

Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter's Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes, and Pictures

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