The beginnings of Things that Become Important are usually not notable.
Years ago, I bought some pretty yarn, Lana Grossa Chiara. It had a silver rayon core with coloured mohair halo; it was smooth and fuzzy and drapey and warm and light and utterly delicious. And also expensive, for a sweater’s worth. I took a long long time over my decision, because I needed the yarn to be bouncy enough for ribbing and yet be able to hold a block for the lace section (I was going to knit an Arisaig).
Scouting around the internet for information, I kept bumping up against the Ravelry home page, and turning back resolutely. Rav was, at that time, being described as a “Facebook for knitters”; and since Facebook was extremely annoying at that time, I balked at the idea of joining a similar site.
However, the Chiara was expensive, and I really needed to know whether it would work for an Arisaig. Reluctantly, I joined Rav, explored a little and promptly fell in love! So well thought out, so brilliantly organised! What makes Rav so utterly useful is it’s astounding level of cross-referencing — I’m sure no other craft has a site quite like it.
Let’s say you’re a wood-worker (and keep in mind I really have no experience of woodworking, so am pulling these analogies out of thin air!). What would the wood-working equivalent of Rav have to have?
You would begin with a page with photos of all your personal projects, each of which would link back to a detailed page about that particular project. A viewer would be able to see the photos and your own notes for each project, and then follow a link to a page about the Instructions – which publication they appeared in, recommended materials. From here, a viewer could see all the other Instructions in that publication; OR, scroll through all the projects made using any particular Instruction, sorting them — if desired — by colour they were painted, or by ‘most liked’ or ‘helpful notes’. For any particular Instruction, there would be a tab showing the various kinds of wood that people had used in their projects. On a page for any wood, there would be people’s comments, plus links to all Instructions that people have ever used for that wood. And this would be just the beginning…
… but I have to stop now, because it’s really difficult to describe in words or sentences — which are linear — a massively cross-referenced network structure.
Another delightful thing about Rav is how it is designed to serve the way knitters think. You could approach the Search with:
“I have 1000m of worsted weight yarn, want to make an adult V-neck pullover, seamless, with cables on a stockinette fabric.”
“I have ABC yarn in the Bright Sunset colour and am thinking of making a flowing stockinette cardigan — does the colour look subtly variegated or blotchy when knit up? Does it drape or look structured?”
And sometimes, people just want to look at beautiful projects too, you know? The search/browse feature can do that too, allowing for results to be sorted by colour, most popular, etc.
Now I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted, but working with Chiara again brought back good memories of being seduced by Ravelry’s utter functionality! For the first two years, I was easily devoting a couple of hours each day to Rav, and getting withdrawal symptoms when travelling. Yes, I was quite Rav-addicted — and not ashamed to admit it!
Here’s another photo my latest Chiara project — it’s almost done now!