by Kate Perez
first printed in the March 2009 issue of Camelid Quarterly
Wondering what’s the one thing that knitters and fiber-arts people can’t live without in 2009? It’s not self-striping sock yarn, Hello Kitty© stitch markers or the latest book by the “Yarn Harlot. “ It’s Ravelry of course! Ravelry.com has been called a social networking website, an online community and MySpace for knitters, but it’s so much more!
Ravelry gives each user an online area for storing fiber-arts projects with their photos, descriptions, patterns, yarns, needles or hooks used, and a rating scale for how the profile owner liked the yarn or pattern. There is also a heart icon which other members of the Ravelry community can click to “favorite” and store the project in their own profiles. Ravelry also contains databases of knitting and crocheting patterns, books, yarns, and contact information for those who sell those same products.
some of my projects in the Ravelry database in Jan. 2009
When a project owner types in the name or maker of a yarn, for example, Ravelry will look at the words and provide names of similar yarns stored in its yarn database. If a match is found, the yarn in the project is linked back into the database. Another member of the community can do a search on that yarn and find this project along with all of the Ravelry projects that were made using that yarn. The projects will include photos, descriptions and ratings for the yarn and the patterns used.
a search on alpaca yarns inside of Ravelry (shown above)
By the way, that same user can also see how many other “Ravelrers” have that yarn stored in the “stash” tab of their profiles and whether they are willing to sell or trade it. Often the photos of various yarns provided by the members of Ravelry are of better quality than those found on the websites and catalogs that sell those same yarns. And, seeing the yarn rated and knit up in many different colors and into many different projects, really helps fiber artists decide which yarn to use for what project.
my yarn " stash " photos in Jan. 2009
Inside of Ravelry, a “homemade” yarn can get the same amount of exposure as a commercial yarn. Ravelry provides its members with automatic links from their profiles to their websites, blogs, Etsy online stores1, RSS feeds2 and MySpace and Facebook pages. Even if they have none of these, a potential customer can still contact the yarn owner by clicking on his or her name under the yarn’s photo from inside of Ravelry. But, you may ask, what if the yarn owner is not a member of Ravelry?
What serious fiber artist or fiber arts business wouldn’t be?
Ever wonder about the future of the fiber arts in an increasingly electronic world? Way back on January 17th, 2008 when Ravelry only had 72,879 users, they did a survey of their members and found that the median age was 35. As of January 6, 2009 there were 253,955 registered users and 2,417 more on the waiting list. The average wait time was listed as 2 days, meaning that Ravelry is adding well over 1,000 new users each day. Did I mention that it’s free? No article could ever describe all of the amazing and intriguing features of Ravelry, so why not discover the rest for yourself? When you do join, don’t forget to “friend” me, Alpacagal.
- “Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade.” – taken from http://www.etsy.com/about.php
- “RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works” – taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_(file_format)
About the Author
Kate Perez is an avid knitter, hand spinner and computer geek. She and her husband, Tom, own the Mount Airy Alpaca Company. They closed their alpaca breeding business in 2007 due to Tom’s illness from Sarcoidosis, but they continue to be involved in lecturing, writing articles and selling the Alpaca Care DVD they made in conjunction with their friends at Alpacas of Sunset Fields, “Alpaca Care for Beginners – We Walk You Through It.” She now lives in Scottsmoor, Florida and subscribes to the RSS feed for the yarns of Sugar River Llamas in rural Wisconsin.”