Thursday, March 27, 2008

Knitting on the 'net

I have a routine that I follow every morning: I get up, take my medication for asthma that means I have to wait an hour before I can eat breakfast. During that hour I turn on the computer and read news and emails, reply to emails, and check out knitting websites. My hour passes quickly, I catch up on what is going on in the world, and then I'm all ready to eat breakfast and start the day.

Monday morning I got up as usual, took my meds, checked my peak flow, turned on the computer, and GASP! NO INTERNET!!! When I say to you that there was much horror, despair and gnashing of teeth going on, you may rest assured that I don't exaggerate one whit. It was really pretty pathetic. All day long, each time I passed the computer, I tried to check and see if I was getting any new emails. Nope. Tuesday, I turned on the computer in hope, and still no internet. Nonetheless, I found myself passing by the computer as I went through my day, and unconsciously giving the mouse a shake to wake up the screen and check for new emails. Oh, yeah. No internet. Wednesday I didn't bother to turn on the computer at all. After all, what would be the point? It was amazing how much I was able to get done around the house in those few days, and it really made me wonder if perhaps I don't spend just a leeetle too much time on the internet.

Yet it was still a very delighted Lynda who returned home from her book group last night to be greeted at the door by DH (Dear Husband) with the good news that the internet connection was fixed and we were back in business.

I had 142 emails waiting for me. That's right. One hundred and forty-two.

So you're thinking, Lynda, what the heck do you do on the computer all day? We thought you were a rabid knitter who knits all day and all night, even in your sleep. No, not true. But except for, all my interneting all day long is related to knitting in one way or another. Let me bring you into my dark world...

I belong to two groups on Yahoo that are about knitting and nothing but knitting. The first one I joined, the knitlist, has been in existence in some form or another since September of 2000. Rumor has it that there was another, earlier version of the group on a now defunct listserv. With 11,087 members, the knitlist gets pretty busy. But it is an education in knitting. At one point or another in this group's history, the membership can read like a Who's Who of the knitting world. I only lurk on this list for reasons of my own, but just in reading all the posts every day, I learn a LOT. If you have come to see me during Knit Doctor or had me as a teacher for a class or private lesson, and wondered how I've learned all that I've learned, I can tell you - a lot of it comes from the knitting lists. My favorite Yahoo knitting list is KnitTalk. The atmosphere is much more homey and friendly, and I have, indeed, made many great friends through this list. Not quite three years old and a fraction of the size of knitlist with 1315 members, KnitTalk is a great place to hang out and talk about knitting and life. Through both of these lists I have also found tons and tons of resources for various knitting-related info and stuff. You learn about various yarns, patterns, vendors, new books, etc., all by hearing about the experiences of other knitters. The other groups I belong to are OPKTucson, for members of our local knitting guild, Old Pueblo Knitters; and Masterknits-USA for people going through the Master Knitter process offered by The Knitting Guild of America. If you don't like the idea of a whole lot of emails, you can opt to receive them in a daily digest, or to read them on the website.

I also love the weekly emails from Knitter's Review. Great info on yarns, tools, products, shops, fiber events, etc. And if I didn't get the new, quarterly issue of Knitty, I'd probably faint from deprivation. Free patterns, articles, reviews, fantastic archives. Love Knitty! And don't forget Magknits! The newsletters from KnittingDaily are also wonderful - sponsored by Interweave Press, they are full of info on new books, advance notice of Interweave Knits or Interweave Crochet, and lots of great, informative articles.

Then there are the knitting blogs! I am a great fan of the Yarn Harlot, and I sometimes look over to see my husband at the computer, reading her blog too. I love her books, but I have to admit, I love her blog even more. Then I have to check and see what Ruth Sorenson, of the Kauni Cardi fame, is up to now. There's also Crazy Aunt Purl, Panopticon, Brooklyn Tweed, The Rainey Sisters, and Mason-Dixon Knitting. And I can't forget my friend Alison Hyde, the author of Wrapped In Comfort, with it's beautiful lace shawl patterns. It is because of Alison that we knitters now have the verb 'to Alison', which means to stealth knit a gift for anyone who touches our lives, and surprise them with the gift. She's good at it, and I'm happy to say that I've been Alisoned, myself. (Then my eldest sister saw the lace scarf Alison sent me, fell seriously in love with it, so I Alisoned it to her. How could I deny her?)

But do you want to know where I really, really could spend the whole day on the computer, til my bum was completely numb and bloodless, my fingers freeze up and and I fall off of my chair? Ravelry! Wow! If you don't already know about Ravelry, you have been living in knitting's Dark Ages. Not quite a year old, Ravelry is all things to all knitters. A place to post your current projects with photos, your works-in-progress, your yarn stash, your knitting books. As a designer I have my own Designer Page, with a Ravelry shop to follow asap. There are the forums - on any and every subject related to knitting - or just on anything that any knitter might like, such as movies, books, tv shows, yarn shops, yarn manufacturers, knitting magazines, geographic areas, common interests. If you wanted to find a forum for one-eyed left-handers who own parrots named Mike, I wouldn't be surprised to find a group for that on Ravelry. There are the pattern pages, where you can go to the search box, type in the kind of thing you are looking for, such as 'mittens' and see pictures and info on every single pair of mittens that anyone has ever put onto Ravelry. You get to see what they all look like, in a variety of yarns, where to find that pattern, and how easy or hard it was to do, as well as how much they liked the final result. The yarn page where you can look up info and photos of a specific yarn, or a type of yarn, such as 'sock yarns', or 'Noro sock yarn'. I'm convinced that one can spend days on Ravelry, without ever coming up for air. Right now it is still in beta-testing stage, so when you go to the web-page, put yourself on the invite list. When I signed up last June, I has several thousand people there in front of me, and it took 8 weeks to get my invite. Now they have a waiting list of just over 1000, and you should get your invite in a matter of days. Hint: Famous knitters and designers hang out here.

Also, do you know about Sock Wars III and the Mystery Stole? These are massive groups of people all knitting for a common cause. Sock Wars is a game where on the same date, all who have signed up are emailed the sock requirements, such as yarn, needles and gauge. A week or so later, we all get the pattern, and the name of your adversary. Knit your socks as fast as you can, send them off to your adversary. If they receive your socks before they are able to send the socks that they are knitting off to their adversary, they are 'dead'. If your assassin send you the socks they made you before you send yours off, you are 'dead', and you send the unfinished socks off to the next person in line, who must finish them and send them off before... You get the idea. Great fun, and what the heck, whatever happens, you get a pair of socks out of the deal! I'm already signed up! Mystery Stole is run by Melanie of Pink Lemon Knits, a great lace designer. This year the MSIV will start in the fall, after the Summer Olympics, and those who are signed up will get info on what yarn and needle size, as well as gauge will be used in the pattern, then once a week you get the next installment of the pattern. Also great fun, and I managed (except for the week that the last Harry Potter came out) to keep up with my knitting, and be finished with the previous clue before the next one was posted.

Now I am happily reunited with the internet, getting caught up with my Ravelry forums, and knitting up a storm.


Ann said...

LOL! I know EXACTLY what you mean. Yesterday my internet connection disappeared for about two hours, and I thought I would, like, die or something. So addicted! But such a low-cal addiction . . .

AlisonH said...

Ahem. You know, I'm totally innocent of this using my name as a verb, 'twarn't my idea, much though it strokes my ego and makes me feel good--thank you!

I have been avoiding Ravelry, mostly, afraid I would never come up for air again. I don't even have my shawls' pictures up there yet, which is kind of, um...dumb... (Having typed that, maybe that'll get fixed soon?)

Monica Surfaro Spigelman said...

Thank you, Lynda, for a great post full of fabulous resources!
Can you advise: For some reason I can't get on the Kiwi website (to check out classes) the site down for some reason? I'll try again in a little while....