Monday, February 20, 2012


Every now and again, I corner Suzanne, who is so busy keeping the shop running and up-to-date and putting out new pattern books and staying on top of all things knitting and weaving, that really, it’s no easy feat to get her to sit. But when I do manage to pull this off, it’s so fun hearing what she has to say. This time around, among other things, we were talking about just how much the Internet has changed the face of knitting (along with everything else from dating to taking college classes).

Suzanne was describing for me this phenomenon that happens whenever somebody comes into the store looking for a pattern they can’t recall the name of. “They’ll say, ‘I want a shawl shaped like X,’ and you think, ‘Oh my gosh, what book is this in?’” she says. "It’s like when an answer is on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t articulate it."

Part two of the phenomenon occurs when Suzanne or another floor person goes hunting for the pattern. “You immediately spot not the pattern they want, but the one you were unsuccessfully looking for for the customer before them, the one who already left.”

Well, Ravelry has gone a long way to help with this. Because the online community has a massive, searchable data base, you can actually put in key words to narrow the search, even if you don’t know the pattern name. Even if you don’t have a particular pattern in mind, you can look at your stash, and based on what you want to work with, you can plug in terms to help you find a pattern you’re in the mood for whether it’s a free pattern that’s easy and chunky or a complicated lace challenge you need to pay for. (Check out some of Suzanne's patterns on Ravelry here.)

You might wonder if Suzanne thinks that Ravelry hurts traditional knit shop business by offering so much free information. “Not at all,” she says. “Knitters look at Ravelry and they get so much inspiration—that’s huge. You can search by skill level, yardage, gauge, whatever you want. Then they come into the shop all fired up.”

All the online knitting opportunities are just another example of how, increasingly, we’re living our lives looking at screens. Whether you’re already really good at navigating Ravelry and other knitting sites, or still feeling like your stuck in the Dark Ages, Hill Country Weavers is offering a class, Navigating the Wonderful World of Ravelry, to help you explore all the possibilities. Elizabeth Green Musselman, who’s worked at the store off and on for years, and who has designed some great patterns for the Hill Country Weaver Collections, will be leading the charge. You’ll learn more than how to just navigate Ravelry, you’ll learn how to post to your own page, too.

Meanwhile, in other net news, Pinterest seems to be ripping up the popularity charts. It’s a newish site where folks share their interests about hobbies and passions. Here is but one example-- a Pinterest page dedicated to knitting needles. Seems like this might just be the next big thing, so don’t get left in the Luddite dust, check it out.

But while you’re forging ahead, don’t forget good “old-fashioned” social media. There are plenty of ways to use Facebook to enhance your knitting life. For example—not long ago, I couldn’t for the life of me find my 8 DPs and I was really ready to finish a hat. The store was closed and I didn’t want to wait. (Hello—any other impatient knitters out there?) So I put a quick post up on my FB page and in about 1/30th of a second, I had several offers for loaner needles, all within a mile of my house. Nice, right?

How about you—do you use the Internet to enhance your knitting life? I guess if you’re reading this, the answer is yes. How else do you use it—Ravelry? Pinterest? Facebook? Your own knit blog?

Do tell.

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