Find yarn friends on Ravelry
In the first part of this Masterclass, we looked at the information you can store in your Notebook section of Ravelry, as well as how to use the Pattern and Yarn databases. In this instalment, we will focus on the social side of the website.
Socialisng on Ravelry
At the time of writing this article there were 2312 Ravelry users online (this was in the morning in the UK, when the USA and Canada were mostly asleep!) (1), and 3,914,900 users registered with accounts for the site. That is a lot of people interested in knitting, crochet and other fibre crafts! So how can you find friends who are interested in similar things to you?
The main focus
When you join Ravelry, you automatically join the main seven forums (you will find them if you click the Forums tab – 2). These are places where you can ask questions, or answer them, about the main areas of knitting and crochet crafts, as well as a place to talk about Ravelry itself. They are mostly self-explanatory: ‘For the Love of Ravelry’ (for questions relating to the website itself, as well as announcements of new features), ‘Patterns, Yarn & Fiber’ (note US spelling), ‘Techniques’, ‘Needlework News & Events’, ‘Tools & Equipment’, and ‘Loose Ends’ (a place for anything else relating to knitting, crochet, spinning or weaving, but not covered by the other boards). There are fascinating threads to be found in these main boards, but due to the number of members using them, they can be a bit overwhelming.
To find some smaller places to socialise, simply click on the ‘Groups’ tab. Here you will find a number of easy ways to join a group that interests you (3). If you have filled in your location in your profile, you can look for a group that is local to you. You can also enter a city or state and find a group local to your holiday – I was given some great tips on yarn shopping by the Boston Yarn Party group before my holiday there.
If you like the designs of a particular yarn company, magazine, or designer, then it’s likely that there will be a fan group dedicated to their work. You will find a friendly group for The Knitter on Ravelry (4 - http://bit.ly/ravtheknitter). Once you have clicked the ‘Join Group’ button on the top right of the main page, you will then be able to see it in your ‘Forums’ tab (5).
There is also a link on the main ‘Groups’ page to help you to find groups dedicated to swaps. Swap groups cover an enormous range of interests, so you can narrow down your search if you are interested in a specific topic, such as Dr Who (6 - http://bit.ly/ravdrwho) or vintage knitting (http://bit.ly/ravvintage). It can be brilliant fun to put together a parcel of goodies for someone on the other side of the world, and then wait impatiently for a parcel to arrive with you! There are a number of general groups who run regular themed swaps – the biggest of these is the Odd Duck Swaps of Ravelry (7 - http://bit.ly/ ravoddducks). Be sure to read the group’s information on their main page, as well as any threads relating to group rules. Ravelry allows groups to set their own rules, within the terms and conditions of the site, so make sure to check that your new group is a good match for you.
The other common type of group on Ravelry is a knitalong (KAL). These are places where you can work on a project at the same time as others, which can be really helpful and motivating. Choose the knitalong button on the ‘Groups page’, and you may find it helpful to organise your results by ‘Most Members’, rather than the default which is ‘Recently Created’ groups (8 - http://bit.ly/ravgroups). Once again, you can narrow down your search to find a knitalong for your favourite designer.
Join the conversation
So, you’ve joined some groups – what happens now? Join in the conversation! Have a read of the threads in the group, and reply to someone. On Ravelry, you have the option of replying to a specific post by clicking on the ‘Reply’ button in that post (9 - http://bit.ly/ravreply), or you can make a general reply to the thread by clicking ‘Reply to Thread’ at the bottom.
Along the bottom of each post in a discussion you will see a set of buttons that you can use to add your agreement/disagreement/love etc… to what someone has said. This saves the discussions from being full of posts saying, “I agree”! If you hang around on Ravelry long enough, you will discover that the ‘Disagree’ button can be a source of upset. If you find it so, then you can hide it, so that you never have to see it. On the main ‘Forums’ page, choose the settings tab, and you can hide these buttons as well as organise your groups into categories, and add some other helpful features (10 - http://bit.ly/ravcustomize).
Groups are also a great place to look at what people are making and getting excited about. Once you have clicked on your group, you will see a number of tab options across the top of the page, including ‘Discussion’, ‘Project’ and ‘Activity’. Groups generally ask you to only share projects relating to that group (so only patterns published in The Knitter for The Knitter’s group), and you can see this selection by clicking on ‘Projects’. If you want to see more generally what a group are making, then click on ‘Activity’.
This can be a great way to find new patterns and designers. For example, if you like Kate Davies’ designs, then you might find that people in her group - (‘Kate Davies (Love)’ - have knitted other projects that you might like. Click on the Activity tab to see what they have been making or liking (11 - http://bit.ly/ravkatedavies).
Avoiding upset online
At the bottom of each discussion thread, you will find the ‘Tools: watch, ignore…’ button. This is extremely useful if you are finding a thread irritating – click on ‘Ignore Thread’, and you never have to see it again. The internet is a big place, and unfortunately you are bound to come across users, or discussions that are not to your taste. Happily, Ravelry has made it extremely easy to ignore discussions and even specific users (12 - use the little arrow next to a user’s name – Rhian doesn’t mind me using her as the example here!).
You may find that some people choose a picture for their avatar (their profile picture, sometimes called a ravatar on Ravelry) that you would rather not see – again, by clicking on the arrow next to their name in any forum you can choose to ‘Hide Avatar’. And finally, if you do see a post that is in breach of Ravelry’s rules (or the group rules), you can simply report the post to the group’s moderators using the red flag at the top of the thread, or on this same menu accessed from the arrow by the user’s name. Only the moderators will see your report, and it can help a situation be resolved without making it worse.
While you are wandering around Ravelry, you may come across people whose work you admire, or whose blogs you enjoy reading, or who you just now consider an online friend. If you click through to their profile, you will find a button to add them to your friends (13). Having people in your friends in Ravelry doesn’t mean that you know them, or have even met them, it’s just a way of seeing what they are making. You may find that people from the other side of the world add you to their friends – this simply means that they have spotted one of your projects, and would like to see more of what you are making.
Your friends can all be found in Your ‘Notebook’ area under ‘Friends’ (14). This is simply a list of everyone you have friended. More interesting are the other tabs in this section… The first section is ‘Friend Activity’ – this is similar to the ‘Group Activity’ tab. You can see the projects your friends have been making, or the patterns they have been adding to their favourites, or the yarn they have been stashing (15). The second section is ‘Friends’ Blogs’, which allows you to quickly see whether anyone has written a new blog post, without having to click through to each blog itself (16). Finally, the ‘Neighbors’ section allows you to see a selection of other users who have knitted similar projects to you, or queued similar patterns – a great way to find new friends!
Friends for life
When I first signed up to join Ravelry , I had no idea how much it would change my life. Since then I’ve made friends, knitted far too much, and made a new career out of my hobby. Without Ravelry none of this would have been possible. It can seem overwhelming at first, but the benefits available if you jump in and get involved are incredible. To get started making friends on Ravelry, why not add me to your friends? Or have a look at some of the 108 groups I’m in and maybe join one of them! My user name on Ravelry is JenACKnitwear and I’m always happy tojoin a new knitting conversation!
A few suggested DOs and DON'Ts
Always respect copyright rules (bearing in mind that Ravelry is an international community and copyright laws do vary from country to country). Don’t ask for a copy of a pattern, even if it is out of print. Many, many questions get asked lots of times every day, so do use the search facility to find your answers. Written communication is open to interpretation, and with many non-native speakers using Ravelry, it is easy to jump to the wrong conclusion. Always read the best possible intent into other people’s posts. If something is offensive, then use the red flag ‘report a post’ link, rather than responding directly. All of the groups have moderators who volunteer their time to keep Ravelry a friendly place.
What did you think of this week's Midweek Masterclass? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! Missed a Masterclass? Don't worry! Simply click here to find all our classes so far. And remember to check back here next Wednesday to learn how to incorporate fleece thrums while you knit to create a super-cosy fabric!