Kristen otherwise known as angel101580 on Ravelry. Here is her winning essay on how she was inspired by Ravelry. The decision was hard to make and I wanted to say a thank you to everyone out there for entering and opening up on how much Ravelry has inspired you. Thank you. :)
The stroke of genius we call Ravelry has been an enormous inspiration to me, the self-taught knitter. When you have a grandma, aunt, or random friend who teaches you to knit, you have a built-in support system to help interpret patterns, teach you tricks and untangle the horrific mess you’ve made out of a previously functional skein of yarn. When you plop down on your couch with a skein of Wool Ease and a book entitled Knitting for Dummies, your support system probably consists of the cat you keep glancing at for reassurance--and she, sadly, has no intention of disrupting her beauty sleep to be encouraging. So for self-taught knitters like me, Ravelry has been a life saver—not just the site itself, but the Ravelers who make it what it is. The knitting knowledge that Ravelry boasts is immense; the knowledge I’ve gained in a year probably took past knitters a lifetime to accumulate. It seems there is no problem that cannot be solved by consulting a Ravelry forum. For example:
“I don’t know what kind of yarn this is.”
“Light it on fire!”
“I always have trouble joining new balls of yarn.”
“Spit on the ends!”
“I have no money for yarn.”
“Have you tried spinning your cat’s fur?”
Having a Ravelry support system to rely on has made me braver, more willing to go out on a limb and try an intimidating technique or make a yarn substitution, because I know someone—even if it is a stranger on the Internet with the slightly suspicious screenname “domiknitrix”—will catch me if I fall. And remind me, the overzealous perfectionist, that it is, after all, only knitting (knitters, I’m happy to report, are very well-adjusted, with no delusions of grandeur).
But, no, the goodness of Ravelry doesn’t stop there! The forums, that depth of knitting knowledge, are actually just the icing on the cake; there are plenty of other treats inside too: patterns (so many patterns!), yarn indexes, project management tools, store directories, the list goes on! In compiling all of these resources in one place, Ravelry, quite simply, makes my life easier. No need to go trekking to yarn store (which absolutely will be closed—I’ve yet to figure out yarn store hours, I think they change them when I’m not looking) to arduously research yarn substitutions, scribble random knitting notes on scraps of paper I will then promptly lose and/or accidentally throw away, or call every library and bookstore in the state of Maryland threatening bodily harm if I can’t get my hands on a copy of the IK holiday special issue. All of that information and more is buttoned up in one happy little website, which means I can concentrate on my actual knitting, rather than scouring the house trying to figure out if I have size 10 DPNs.
In fact, I even have my “friends” organized on Ravelry. Working full time and commuting three hours a day, I have very little time--or, frankly, patience--to go sifting through humanity searching for real life knitting buddies (How would that even work? Hang out in front of the LYS looking like some kind of yarn hooker?). But Ravelry has a built-in social network (which you can search by location, eliminating that whole pesky “hanging around the LYS looking desperate” problem): numerous knitters—and some rebel crocheters to spice things up—forming groups, sharing projects, and even swapping goodies with likeminded fiber addicts across the globe. You are not alone on Ravelry; no matter what outlandish, obscure thing you love—syndicated episodes of Boy Meets World? the inexplicably attractive Alan Rickman? 8-bit video games?—there is someone else who shares that love, they’ve started a group to pay homage to it, and they’ll invite you to participate in a swap inspired by it. Ravelry: bringing people together. (Note to self: do a search for a Sabrina the Teenage Witch fan group)
Perhaps most importantly, Ravelry has inspired me to “up my game.” Sitting at home with Knitting for Dummies, and eventually the ubiquitous Stitch N Bitch, I simply had no point of reference. I didn’t know what others were knitting. I didn’t know how much there was to knit. It probably would never have occurred to me that I could, in fact, knit a sweater. But Ravelry inspires a good kind of jealousy and awakens the competitive spirit—the kind that pushes you outside your comfort zone, drives you to challenge yourself. Before, you were happy knitting garter stitch scarf after garter stitch scarf (the recipients, probably less happy); now, post-Ravelry, you spy something on someone’s project list and say, “Hey, I bet I could do that!” So you queue it up, and give it your best shot (the only problem with this being that I now have a queue so long I am terrified I will die of old age before I knit half the things in it). Undertaking a new craft is always daunting. Without a “mentor,” it can be completely off-putting. But thanks to Ravelry, I didn’t have that problem. I can turn to Ravelry to solve problems, find inspiration, stay organized, and make friends. Could you ask for anything more in website? Certainly tens of thousands of people managed to master knitting without Ravelry throughout the history of mankind; but I’m happy I’m not one of them.