TechCrunch didn’t take it seriously. Condescending attitude aside, they should. As of right now, the site has 258,711 users and counting, with thousands online at the same time. These aren’t geeks trying out the new online toy. For the most part, these are people who take their hobby very seriously.
At its core, Ravelry is primarily a user-built relational database of yarns and patterns, linked through the users who work with them.
As you enter details about the projects you’re working on, the information is automatically linked with what other people are doing with the same yarns and patterns. What worked, what didn’t, how the yarn holds up in washing, etc. As you enter the books and magazines you already own, it lists for you the patterns in that resource connecting you to others who have worked on the same projects. Same with connecting to the work of designers and others who have worked on their projects. There is always a respect for the yarn and the designers. No patterns published unless the designer says it’s okay to give it away. A bias towards buying yarn at local stores to support those businesses.
I don’t know how I decided what projects to knit before Ravelry.
Below is a screen shot of my personal project page on Ravelry. It shows what projects I’m currently working on (little “wip” in corner) and what I’ve completed. Folks can leave comments on my projects. Or, they can indicate that they like them which leaves a little heart for me and it will appear their own favorites list. If you plan to knit something but haven’t started it yet, you can add it to a “queue.” If you own yarn but aren’t using it in a project, you list it in your “stash.”
I entered some sweaters that I made years ago if for no other reason than to remind myself of the care requirements of the yarn I used. I’ve yet to find a yarn that isn’t in Ravelry’s database.
This is a cardigan I plan on making soon, as an example of an active pattern page:
I made my first pair of socks ever based on a free pattern and what I learned about sock knitting technique in Ravelry’s forums:
Everyone uses their project page differently, but I like creating a running mini-blog as my project is going along. I enjoy reading the journey others have taken on their projects. I don’t have a knitblog, so this is the next best thing.
The site was built by knitters who understand what knitters think and want. It speaks our language…WIP, FO, frogging, KAL, felting, intarsia, stash, etc. It’s all there. The folks in the forums are the most helpful and friendly as I’ve seen on any site.
The site is fast and intelligently built. It makes sense for both novice and experienced knitters, and novice and experienced geeks. If you have a Flickr account, you can easily connect it to Ravelry for uploading images. If you have a blog you can easily connect it to Ravelry so your posts appear on your profile in real time. If you have a Twitter account you can easily connect it to Ravelry so you can target tweets for your Ravelry profile.
Ravelry appears to be funding itself through in-site advertising, similar to Facebook. Guess what? Knitters spend money. Lots of it. We need yarn, books, patterns and accessories. The advertising is prominent but not intrusive, and it’s usually contextual. Love the yarn? Well here’s a link to get it. Well done.
I’ve had enough of so-called web 2.0 that solves a problem that no one had. Do we really need yet another generic way to share documents, or another site that wants us to share it with all our friends regardless of whether they care or not? Ravelry appeals to people with a very specific interest in a way that they’re already talking anyway, and makes the experience better. Can’t ask for more than that.