Saturday, 6 February 2016

Social media for makers

Recently, I've found myself using Ravelry's pattern search more and more - and I absolutely love it! For knit and crochet patterns, it's a brilliant database of women's, men's, children's, homewear, and novelty patterns divided by yarn weight, project style, and publishing format. I especially love the broad selection of free patterns it offers - it's miles better than the lists of free patterns that you used to rely on via a Google search. But it also allows you to discover new and independent designers, and get a different look from what's offered by the mainstream craft publishers. (Though they've upped their game recently too!) I find Ravelry particularly useful when you have a specific (i.e. stashed) yarn weight in mind. I've used it so much recently, and highly recommend you do too - if there are any knitters left online who haven't signed up to it!

For sewists, The Foldline launched last year after they aptly identified a gap in the market for a similar service for sewing. I've explored the site a couple of times, but the site doesn't quite have what Ravelry does yet, despite its smooth graphic design. I'm sure that this will change in time; I think the difference is that Ravelry ran in 'beta' mode for quite a long time before launching to the public, thus allowing them to react and change to user requests constantly as the site was developing. Ravelry allowed users to add patterns from the get-go, whereas the Foldline manages the online pattern library themselves. This means that obviously with only two rather than several hundred people adding patterns to the list, it's taking quite a while for it to build up.

Additionally, Ravelry from the start gave users the possibility of using the site as a log of all their projects, including yarn and needle sizes used, modifications, and notes. Gone was the need for the various dog-eared knitting notebooks I used to drag around with me! In fact, several knitting bloggers also felt that it negated the need for them to blog at all - and they switched to just recording everything on Ravelry.

Additionally, it's several years later and there are other social media platforms for sewers which it might be difficult to wean people across from. Personally, I only read a handful of blogs and use Instagram; but other people use more networks such as Mood, Minerva Crafts and Burda Style. I like the idea of a service that isn't entirely commercially sponsored, which is why I'm still keeping an eye on the Foldline. Above all, it would be great to see both Foldline and Ravelry aps, so I can search for things on the fly - like when I'm browsing in a fabric/yarn shop!

Have you used any of these sites? What's your experience of them?

Do you know of any other useful social media outlets for makers?