The Kindness Of Strangers

Ravelry is an on-line community of knitters and crocheters (and tatters, spinners, weavers, and quilters), a network of cyber-friends who share a common interest—making stuff with yarn. It is arguably the most valuable resource in the knitting world. Through Ravelry, knitters and crocheters can record and share their progress on projects; inventory their stashes and knitting/crocheting libraries; find the perfect pattern; and locate enough of that now-discontinued yarn they just ran out of to finish the project they have worked on for months. In other words, Raverly is a dream of a data base for knitters and crocheters.

But there is more to Ravelry than that. It is also a social network of women and men of all ages with diverse interests who are tied together with a single common thread–or should I say yarn? Yes, the community of knitters and crocheters is nothing if not diverse; we have many and broads interests in addition to a love of playing with sticks and string. The depth and breadth of these interests are represented on Ravelry as “Groups.” There are Groups that are devoted to just about anything you can imagine.

Are you a lace knitter? A knitter of sweaters from the top down, socks from the toe up, hats for babies, scarves for charity? Do you like to knit skull-and-crossbones patterns, or knit with beads? Do you love Fair Isle peeress, cables, entralac, intarsia, gainsays, or Arans? There’s a group for you.

Do you love filet crochet, granny squares, Tunisian stitch, Irish lace? There’s a group for you.

Do you love the designs of Elizabeth Zimmermann, Norah Gaughan, Jared Flood, Lily Chin, Cheryl Oberle, Nancy Bush, or Sharon Miller? There’s a group for you.

Do you love Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, James Patterson, or Charles Dickens? Are you into Harry Potter, Twilight, or The Hunger Games? Yep, there’s a group for you.

Is “The Mentalist” your favorite television show? Are you gaga over Lady Gaga? Do you want to “fire up the fiddle and have one last drink” with Enter The Haggis? Are you a Trekky? A home-schooler? A lover of Latin? A lover of coffee? A vegan? A Buddhist? A tax accountant? Yep, there’s a group for you.

By now you have probably gotten the idea. We yarnies have varied interests. And if you cannot find a group for your particular interests, you can start one. One of my Ravelry friends started a group for those of us who are pet parents of kitties that are fat pleasingly plump. The groups have discussion forums for discussions, and those discussions lead to cyber-friendships.

I have developed some cyber-friendships I truly value through two of the groups I belong to, Knit Black and Gold, which is primarily fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, and Let’s Go Pens, which is a group of hockey lovers who are fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. The forums on both of these groups are pretty active, and as you might expect, there is some overlap. Through these forums we share with each other not only our love of knitting/crochet and our love of the Steelers and of the Pens, of football and hockey, of the city of Pittsburgh, but also of our families and of our pets. We share our hopes and our dreams, our accomplishments and our disappointments, our joys and our sorrows. We agree and we disagree. We laugh together and we cry together.

Oh, how we cry together. A few months ago, one member of Let’s Go Pens had to have her beloved cat euthanized. She agonized over the decision. Most of us have been in her shoes, so we were very sympathetic and supportive. I know that my heart was breaking for her because I had gone through something similar just a couple of years ago with my sweet baby Loretta. I know all too well how painful it is to say good-bye to our furry family members. There was little we could do to ease her pain, but we held her hand, virtually of course, through her ordeal, and she is now in the process of adjusting to life without her beloved fur ball. Imagine my surprise today when, out of the blue, this kind and generous woman sent me, via Ravelry, the pattern for a project I had in my Ravelry wish list and queue. It’s one she has knitted and likes very much, and she thought I would like it, too. She just wanted to thank me for my support through her difficult time and to brighten my day. OMG! Brighten my day? She brightened my life! The world is a better place for having people like her in it.

And to Jess and Casey, the people behind Ravelry, I just want to say thank you for making possible the best on-line community in the world.

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