Date of this Version
Published in Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los Angeles, California, September 10–14, 2014,
Ravelry.com was founded in 2007 and as of March 2013 it had more than three million members for its social networking website. The Ravelry.com motto is: Ravelry is “a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, and pattern information, and communicate with others for ideas and inspiration” (Forbes, Ravelry.com/about, Aug 22, 2013). Members share images of their handcrafts and discuss their recent projects. The site serves as more than a social media platform for handcrafters; however, it also provides members with a means of commerce, such as selling yarns and patterns. This research draws on experiences of handcrafters, including knitters, crocheters, weavers, textile designers, and quilters. In 2004, we launched an ongoing qualitative ethnographic research study of handcrafters. For the last nine years, we collected interviews from fiber and textile handcrafters; observed and participated in various handcrafting groups; attended fiber and textile related events; visited fiber and textile shops and private design studios; and observed and participated in online handcraft communities. Our recent research recognizes the significant presence of crafters on the Internet, previous research suggests face-to-face interactions were essential to the phenomenogical experiences of the handcrafters. In this paper, we explore online communities, including blogs, social media sites, meet ups, and commerce domains, for fiber and textile designers and handcrafters. We share our qualitative research findings addressing the gap in the literature about the significant impact of online fiber and textile design communities. We conclude with a discussion about the benefits and drawbacks within these online communities influencing the current paradigm shifts that is both manipulating and empowering fiber and textile enthusiasts and practitioners. Reference Forbes, Jessica. Ravelry.com/about (Accessed: August 22, 2013).