This is primarily for my mother, to make her get her stuff together and join this, and I warn you: it will hold little to no interest for non-knitters. You know who you are.
From the beginning, I have been very sceptical of the whole web 2.0 experience. I have shunned Facebook, skirted around Twitter (except the occasional stalking moments now and again), never joined Bebo, Orkut or Hi5 and generally felt very good about staying as far from social networking sites as I could. But, perhaps to compensate, I have been steadily drawn to what I suppose are similar concepts that have a clear focus: Flickr (for photos), LastFM (for music), LibraryThing (for books), and finally Ravelry (for knitting).
That is not to say that I make the most of their networking possibilities (I am hopelessly shy around strangers, even on the internet); what they do provide, though, is an endless source of new and steadily more focused input on things that interest me in particular. But I was going to discuss Ravelry.
I heard about it ages ago, when NRK had a news piece on someone doing their master's or a doctorate on online knitting circles. It showed reworkings of the Marius sweater pattern into a geeky Space Invaders theme, and I realised fairly quickly that it would be a bad idea for me to look too closely at this before I finished my PhD. I did register, however, and found at least one very cute pattern for a baby girl's dress and a round pinwheel jacket, but I stopped at the notion of participating in any way myself. I should explain why.
Knitting is terribly addictive. Especially when you are supposed to be doing things that take a long time and have no immediate payoff. Say, like a PhD. It does not require you to think much, can be combined with other brainless activities like watching television, without the bad feeling of wasting your time (because you are clearly being productive while the bad guys are running around being chased by the good guys) and (the key point) you can see the thing you are knitting taking shape in your hands. It is a powerful combination. I did not need the added attraction of keeping track of my knitting and taking and uploading pictures to show people how pretty the finished sweater was (or, indeed, the half-finished sweater was getting).
And then, during the writing up on my final chapter, I succumbed to the inevitable. I had finished my latest big projects and needed some patterns for kids. Ideally for free. The sheer wealth of free, beautiful patterns caught me. I did not want to just pass them over, so I started adding them to my queue.
This is a wonderful concept. It allows me to keep tabs on the patterns I have fallen for without me starting work on them right away, so that if I come across a particular type of wonderful yarn, or I need to knit something for someone's birthday, I can find a pattern quite easily. I can also move patterns up and down my queue (which takes up some time, as I love organising things).
I can also keep track of my knitting needles with a chart:
As should be clear from the 17 3.5mm sock needles, I have sorely needed this tool. I have yet to fill in all my needles, but I took an afternoon out of editing to include the ones I had bought while in Edinburgh. I dread to think how many 3.5mm needles I have in some box somewhere in Norway.
"But Camilla, dear", I can hear you say, "you could easily have done this on your own computer. I am sure Tor would have made a grid for you to fill in."
Ah, could have, should have ... &c. Point is, I didn't. Nor would I have.
Similarly, the yarn. I have bags and bags of used yarn lying around my various abodes (something only students and rich people have), and keeping track of it all would be a nightmare if it ever happened. Instead they are all languishing in the backs of cupboards in the realm of "it might be handy someday", drowning in dust and waiting to be tossed out when I die of old age. But now:
I can keep track of my yarn. I don't have to keep the myriad old paper bands with the colour and the dye lot and a string tied around which to show which colour the "colour" number refers to (a part of my life until now). I enter the yarn as I buy it, take a picture in order to help me remember what it looks like and mark it as used for a particular project; later on I can then go back and find out not only which yarn I used, but I can easily get more of the same type without having to dig through three bags of old paper bands at the bottom of my cupboard (or more likely, at the bottom of some cupboard in a place where I am not staying at the moment).
Each yarn page looks something like this:
(This particular yarn breaks my heart: I am knitting a jacket with it, but there may be no more of the particular lovely blue colour ever again. The shop lady does not know. We'll all find out once the Queen is done visiting the islands, apparently.)
Of course, the point of all this is the projects:
I use it as an extension of the incessant showing Tor what I am knitting and asking him whether he thinks it looks nice and whether he thinks X will like it if when they get it as a present. I would like to use it to show my mother what I am knitting. Eventually *cough*. It also serves to remind me that I have made pretty things, even after those pretty things have transitioned into becoming ordinary everyday clothes/things around the house/gifts for other people that I never see.
I am sure there is some part of it that is geared towards groups of various shapes and sizes (or, indeed, about various shapes and sizes), but I haven't quite gotten there yet. I am not that immersed in the web 2.0 experience.