I love the internet. It's safe to say that I'm addicted to it. When I say I'm addicted to the internet, I'm not really talking about checking my email, playing flash games, or social networking. What really tickles my fancy is the wide variety of resources available on every topic imaginable. The internet has helped me to unclog a sink (all I needed to do was remove and clean the P joint!), practice foreign languages, learn about new scientific discoveries, understand perspectives different from my own, and so much more.
When crochet first emerged it spread from person to person, parent to child, instructor to learner. Eventually crochet books and patterns became more widely available, but access to them was still limited by a number of factors. In my opinion, the internet is one of the best things to happen to the craft revolution. Arts and crafts that may not have been as accessible before have seen huge growth and added variety as a result of the internet. Today I would like to review the popular online crochet communities that I am most familiar with. There are many more out there, but these are the websites I visit on a regular basis.
If you are a crocheter or knitter and you're not a Ravelry member, stop reading this post right now. Go make a Ravelry account immediately! Ravelry is incredible. It is my favorite online crochet community by far. Ravelry allows you to post finished objects for others to admire, save patterns you want to work on in a queue, join groups, follow CALs (crochet-a-longs), catalog yarns, friend and message other users, distribute your own patterns, and so much more! This is my go-to website for patterns. I love that it lets me keep track of the folks I have gifted my FOs to so I don't end up giving the same person a million of the same thing. It is my preferred method of selling my patterns since it is so easy to use and the fees are more reasonable than Etsy. There are users of all ages. I can't really think of anything negative to say about this website.
Hidden Gems: If you click "people" and scroll down to the little "watch FOs live" television on the middle right it will take you to Finished Object Radar, a slideshow of the awesome things people have made and are uploading in real-time. I like to keep this running when I am working on a project that requires too much focus or counting to allow me to watch a movie while I work, something I like to do. It's not too distracting but still provide a nice background atmosphere for crocheting, especially when paired with music or NPR. Also, right above the Radar link is "bah! show me UGHs!". If you are working on a project that is driving you bonkers, come hang with others in the same boat. It will show you posts about projects gone wrong, some sad and some hilarious. Very cathartic.
There are good and bad things about Reddit as a whole, and r/crochet is definitely one of the good things. You don't have to be a member to read it, but you do to vote or contribute. This is the best place for browsing. It's easy to click link after link to see what others are making. The big crochet trends roll through here, keeping you in the loop. The user base is on the younger side in general. This is a great place to get opinions on your work and to feel validated by those who know the effort you have put into your item. I use r/crochet to find community in the same way that I use Ravelry to find patterns. However, if you are looking for a place to advertise, this isn't the place for you. This sub-reddit isn't overly fond of links to blog posts and is fairly unfriendly if you post the equivalent of "Buy my pattern!". Feel free to post a picture of an object you made while writing your pattern, but only post the pattern in the comments, preferably only after someone has asked for it.
Hidden Gems: Be sure to check the "top" posts for some funny crochet-related memes.
This is the perfect place to gather ideas and look at pretties. Since it's very visually focused, you can cover a lot of ground quickly and pause when something catches your eye. Save ideas for later or follow up on pins to find their source. I mostly use Pinterest as a location to store crochet pictures that I find beautiful and want to use as inspiration. However, unlike Ravelry where you are actively finding patterns to work on or r/crochet where you are getting feedback, Pinterest is more about entertainment and less about actually getting things done. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it is something to keep in mind.
Hidden Gems: For easy pinning that doesn't interrupt your regular browsing, download the handy "Pin It" toolbar button.
Etsy is another good place to find and sell paid crochet patterns. Since it is already well know it reaches a larger audience than Ravelry. This is the place to go if you don't actually crochet but appreciate handmade items and would like to support designers and wow your recipients by purchasing finished objects. This is the most commercial of the communities I'm reviewing, and the commercialism does take away from uniqueness a bit. Many crochet shops specialize in one thing and make it over and over to sell in different colors. Also, Etsy is a bit over-saturated with sellers. This makes it hard for newer, interesting sellers to break in.
Hidden Gems: Sort your search results by "highest price" to view antique, vintage, enormous, and highly interesting objects, whether or not you intend to buy them ;)
Crochetville is a great place for crocheters of all ability levels to come together in their love of the craft. This website navigates more like a traditional internet forum. There is a wide variety of content and specialization. The regulars on this site tend to be a bit older than the others I have mentioned, giving you the benefit of access to information passed down from seasoned crocheters. You need to be a member to participate effectively. I currently use Crochetville for casual crochet browsing, but I may become more active in the future.
Hidden Gems: Scroll down the front page almost to the bottom for the "Crochet in the Media" forum section. It's great to geek-out with other members over crochet sightings in popular shows and movies, like the infamous 70s style granny square blanket draped over the couch in Breaking Bad.
Itching to learn a new stitch? Confused by crochet and need help? YouTube is here to save the day. The videos posted here allow anyone to take free crochet lessons in the comfort of their own home. Thousands of videos are available to assist you in learning whatever strikes your fancy. However, it can sometimes be difficult to sort out the well-made videos from the not-so-well-made ones.
Hidden Gems: He's not really that hidden, but I totally love Mikey.
What are your favorite online crochet communities?