Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Ravelry - a web 2.0 dream

I'm dusting off this blog and getting back into sharing my Web 2.0 experiences, at home and at work.

I have to say the most complete web 2.0 experience I have had is on Ravelry, a community for knitters and crocheters (yes, you heard me right, I do knit). On Ravelry I can add descriptions and photos of all my projects. Even better, I can search for patterns (both free online patterns and those that are only available in books) and then see how other people went knitting them. If it's a bad review, maybe I don't want to try it. Alternatively if I really like it I can favourite it for later. I can also add a yarn to my stash, and then see what projects people have made with it.

Then there are forums based around topics and locations. So I can find local knitting groups and go along to their meetings. Or I can search for a particular knitting technique or ask for help. There are yarn swaps, gift swaps, virtual Knit-alongs and even a Knitting Olympics to co-incide with the real ones.. There's also a very passionate thread on the Australian Knitters forum where people have found out about draft changes to airplane security and are making submissions en masse that knitting needles should be allowed on planes.

You can also find friends, message them, view their projects, stash and pattern library, and see what they've been talking about in the forums.

From a business point of view, there are a number of pattern designers and yarn retailers on Ravelry, so they are getting direct feedback on what people think of their products as well as being on hand to offer assistance. Ravelry-only specials from yarn stores receive a fantastic response. That doesn't mean that everyone is completely sold on what Ravelry represents. An explosion of free online patterns and access to a much larger range of yarn shops makes the market quite competitive. The yarn shop down the road may find that online or overseas stores can beat their prices even with shipping. On the other hand, smaller retailers with quality offerings may suddenly be pitched into the spotlight if word of a good pattern or wool gets around. So it cuts both ways.

In terms of making money from the platform itself, here's what the Ravelry designers have to say:

The site will always be free for designers, independent dyers, spinners, crocheters and knitters! We want it to be an inclusive community- not just for those who can pay for it. Instead, we have tasteful and targeted ads for fibery products and companies that we as a community are actually be interested in and want to support!

They also sell some pretty funky merchandise - financial support and advertising all in one go.

If you feel like hopping on Ravelry, drop me a line - my ID is EclecticRose.