The Crafty Revolution

Posted by Kim Lau on Tuesday, October 30th, 2007. Filed under: eHub Features

One of the most pleasant ironies of our fast-paced, technological Internet era is the renewed interest in all things handmade and do-it-yourself. People who wouldn’t otherwise have picked up so much as a ball of yarn are now learning to sew from tutorials online, trading tips with other people with the same crafty interests, and even selling their creations. In some cases (happily, more than a few), they are able to make enough money to quit their day jobs and make their crafts their sole source of income.

image

Etsyis the most well-known, and most successful of all these sites. On Etsy, you can do just about anything – open your own online store, browse other sellers’ objects for sale, befriend sellers and buyers alike, etc. What differentiates Etsy from other crafty sites is its wealth of features and easy design. First-time users are greeted with the latest items handpicked by its own users, items from the current featured seller, and items uploaded in the last 15 seconds. Only registered users can sell and buy items; they also have access to lots of goodies – forums, tracked purchases, favorites and more. I’d have to take an entire novel to spell out the entire experience. Products run the gamut, and range from personal zines to custom-designed furniture.

image

Lov.li is another site that is similar to Etsy, in which registered users can buy and sell their own handmade items. (In fact, many registered users at Etsy also have an account at lov.li.) Users are greeted with the day’s hot items, local items, and the newest people who joined lov.li. Lov.li has some very useful features; users can post on their own basic blog, create groups, and post events for people to participate in. Lov.li also takes advantage of social bookmarking tools like del.icio.us and Stylehive and users can add favorites to their bookmarks.

image

Indiepublic is a social community for independent artists and designers. Indiepublic is all about promoting the handmade, the artistic, and the do-it-yourself in a welcoming, encouraging environment. Registered users can add widgets from other sites; many display their Etsy shops. Other things that they can do include communicating with other like-minded artists via the forums, or through creating and joining groups, and uploading photos, videos and articles about their crafts. Indiepublic is very user-friendly, which is probably due to the fact that it’s built on the Ning social network platform.

image

Craftster is a forum and repository for offbeat do-it-yourself projects. Craftster has a strict policy against selling items and projects; it is only a community for sharing ideas and inspiration among crafters. Registered members can post projects, enter a profile, organize swaps, and enter challenges hosted by the site. It’s full of inspired creativity such as cross-stitch portraits of famous people and silly projects like pet costumes. Craftster’s policies may be too restrictive for some users, but others might find comfort in the fact that crafting is not about making money.

image

Ravelry is a crochet and knit community that is still in beta. Due to popular demand, it’s still unable to accommodate everyone who wants to join, although you can sign up for the waiting list. You can use Ravelry either as your own personal project organizer, and use it as you would a social network site like Myspace and interact with other knitters and crocheters. Ravelry’s popularity is based upon the fact that it’s a pretty flexible site – and you can use it in many different ways. You can track your projects, integrate with Flickr, tie your blog posts to your projects and patterns, and track your stashes.

image

Crochetme is a community for crocheters. It is currently in beta; although it is not as comprehensive as Ravelry, it does provide a home for people who only want to learn about and discuss the crocheting craft. Registered members can post tips, upload patterns, view others’ uploaded projects and interact with other crocheters. Though Crochetme could definitely benefit from easier site navigation and a more user-friendly design, it is a very welcoming and comforting space in which to try out new projects and learn more about crocheting.

Crafting is often misunderstood. Many people still think of it as something that lonely old women do to pass the time. In reality, crafting extends to all types of people and all age groups. There is little to mistake about the time, the pride, and the learning experience of doing a project all on your own. The sites I’ve listed above re-create online a time in which crafting was the equivalent of creating communities – imagine sewing circles, quilting bees and grandmothers teaching their children how to knit. In these digital times, person to person knowledge, community and craft are even more important. And if people make a little money off of it, then it’s just an added bonus of the Internet age.

Comment(s)

  1. dan on October 30, 2007 at 11:18 AM:
    great article :)

    I think you could put ReadyMade, ThreadBanger and Make in this category as well.  It feels like trends are merging to create this mega DIY trend effect.  You have crafters merging with home decor, home depot folks who are merging wth radio shack geeks who are merging with sustainability folks to create this one big trend of DIY, reuse, repurpose, create, customize, express and so forth.  Its like a physical representation of what is also happening on the web, this is me, i’m unique, i’m different, see this, experience this thing that is me.

    All cool stuff and we’re seeing these big trends kinda infecting the mass market as well I think, or at least the core principals of it.

  2. Andrew Wooldridge on January 20, 2008 at 10:19 AM:
    You should also look at Ponoko.com http://www.ponoko.com/ It takes fabrication to a new level with the ability to upload designs and allow others to create them .
  3. Emily Chang on January 24, 2008 at 08:38 PM:
    Thanks, Andrew. We added Ponoko today. It’s a great idea.