I’m totally into Ravelry these days – the social media site for knitters where you can see how 783 people knit a particular pattern in completely different ways, or who buys yarn at the same local store as you do, or which patterns or finished knitted objects your friends favourite. Honestly, if you’re at all into knitting, or you simply want to see a great example of how social media can work for a (surprisingly large with 200,000 members and they’re not even out of beta) speciality group, go sign up. Oh, and it’s also a nice example of how a social media site can add value to existing social practices in a (loose) community – Ravelry links up and display’s users’ Flickr and blog streams, which both adds value to Ravelry itself and helps strengthen the existing networks that extend outside of Ravelry.

One of this morning’s great finds was this handknitted sweater with a portrait of Obama on the back of it (here’s a link to the project in Ravelry if you’re a member). The woman who knitted it generated a chart for the intarsia knitting by uploading a jpg image to MicroRevolt’s knitPro, which according to the site’s blurb is “a web application that translates digital images into knit, crochet, needlepoint and cross-stitch patterns. Just upload jpeg, gif or png images of whatever you wish — portraits, landscapes, logos… and it will generate the image pattern on a grid sizable for any fiber project”.

If you’re more the linguistic/code type of person, you might prefer knitting a variant of Binary. If you’re in the mood for binary knitting you can encode your message here and knit, say, a scarf, a hat or a pair of socks. See 164 examples at Ravelry.com.
Now all I have to do is figure out what I’m knitting!!
PS: I’m jillaroo on Ravelry – if you’re on Ravelry too, send me a note!

4 thoughts on “digital knitting

  1. Kjerstin

    Oh, this is great! I rediscovered knitting last year and have been looking for a simple way to make pictures into patterns (more simple than using grid paper, that is) ever since. Thereís just no better November activity 🙂

  2. Ellen

    I’ve been trying to work out the appeal for me. Part of it is that it functions so well as a database–this really appeals to the researcher in me (after all, I’m an academic, for better or worse). The sheer volume of information (patterns, yarns, projects, people) is impressive. Then part of it is the voyeur/exhibitionism aspect. I love getting glimpses into people’s generally domestic lives–family, home, private pass times. And of course it is frighteningly fun to expose my own private life. I find myself totally okay with posting images of myself and even my family members there, which I probably wouldn’t do anywhere else. Finally, there is something really satisfying about documenting my knitting–the stash, the works in progress, and the finished objects. My husband compares it to my obsession with my CV–he wonders if sometimes I write things just to be able to add another publication to my list, and it feels the same way with Ravelry. And it’s not just the amount of projects, but the overall aesthetic effect of my project page that I think now is starting to drive which projects I choose to make. Oh, and of course being able to “friend” people, join in discussions and trade and purchase things from real people in the community makes it a very rich social experience as well. I definitely think Ravelry has made a difference in what and how I knit!

  3. M-H

    Good to see you writing about Rav, Jill. I enjoy watching the pictures you post. I’ve found another wonderful use for it: I ran out of yarn last week before I’d finished my project. It was a yarn from a local chain store, not a specialty store, and I doubted that they would have re-stocked it. So I checked on Rav, and sure enough someone a few suburbs away had three balls listed in the same colour. I contacted her, and she’s happy to send them to me. She’d bought them on close-out (I knew they hadn’t restocked!) for $1 each, so doesn’t even want any money for them. I had a similar experience last year with an old yarn, which someone in the US still had in their stash and sent me.

    For Aussie knitters the various geographically-based forums provide local information and separate us somewhat from the Northern domination of the site. In Sunday we organised a hugely successful Knit in Public Day last Sunday through Rav, and it’s also leading to a (painful but fruitful) re-creation of the somewhat moribund NSW Knitters Guild. I think it’s great!

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