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Alternative Social Media Sites for Knitters

On June 16 2020, Ravelry launched what's become known as the New Look: an updated version of the interface styling used on the site. Not only was it a complete departure from the classic look, severing the connection to a decade of branding and colors like the iconic Ravelry Red, the new site also has severe accessibility issues. It doesn't work with screen readers that visually-impaired people use to navigate the web. The New Look has also been reported to cause all sorts of neurovisual symptoms such as eyestrain, dizziness, nausea, migraine — even seizures. For example, designer Tania Richter has been documenting her months-long Ravelry-induced migraine that effectively ended her career designing knitwear patterns.


To this date, 9 months on, the management at Ravelry continues to ignore these accessibility issues, calling them "silly" and "outlandish", and are in fact clamping down on all discussion and criticism related to accessibility (this link goes to Ravelry so seizure warning). The mere mention of the word accessibility will get you banned from discussion forums. If you've wondered why they've turned off commenting on their Instagram account or why comments seem to have vanished from their Facebook posts, this is why.


For a while the classic minty green look was offered as an alternative to let people "get used to" the new site. This has now changed: Classic Ravelry was discontinued on March 31, 2021. If you're one of the people adversely affected by Ravelry's updated interface, your options are now either to suffer the consequences or to find a new home for your knitterly pursuits. Here are a few alternatives.

LoveCrafts logo

LoveCrafts

LoveCrafts has been around for nearly 10 years. This UK-based site was founded in 2012 under the name LoveKnitting; LoveCrochet was established three years later in 2015. In 2019, the two separate sites were merged into one, and sewing & quilting and cross stitch & embroidery added to the repertoire of available crafts. In addition to their headquarters in London, LoveCrafts now has offices in Germany, Ukraine, and the US as well as warehouses in UK and the US.


What sets LoveCrafts apart from Ravelry is that they're a giant online store for yarn, needles, fabric, printed sewing patterns, and notions — anything craft-related you can think of. Each knitting pattern lists the necessary materials and notions needed for the pattern, and you can add the yarn into your shopping cart right from the pattern. You don't even have to calculate the yardage needed for your size as you can see from the Tavila Sweater by Zsuzsanna Orthodoxou.


The drawback of this approach, though, is that the yarn information available on the site is limited to the brands LoveCrafts carries and what they currently have in stock.

On LoveCrafts it's possible to buy the yarn needed for a knitting pattern right from the pattern page.
On LoveCrafts it's possible to buy the yarn needed for a knitting pattern right from the pattern page.

Ravelry was started primarily as a pattern database: their aim is to list all patterns ever published in any form, print or online, regardless of whether they're available today or not. On LoveCrafts, however, all patterns in their selection are currently available from the site, either free or for pay. You can also order pattern books and leaflets directly through them.


You can browse patterns by category and there is an advanced search similar to Ravelry's. Search results can even be refined by pattern price — something that's never been possible on Ravelry. A quick tally of the results reveals there's currently a little over 100 000 knitting patterns available on LoveCrafts; Ravelry has nearly 600 000.

On LoveCrafts, pattern search results can be refined by price and project type, for example.
On LoveCrafts, pattern search results can be refined by price and project type, for example.

LoveCrafts also has a project notebook feature, similar to Ravelry. Projects linked to a pattern are displayed at the bottom of the pattern page, like here in Heidi Kirrmeier's Sunshine Coast, although you can't see the total number of projects made with a pattern.

LoveCrafts projects linked to a pattern are displayed at the bottom of the pattern page along with reviews.
LoveCrafts projects linked to a pattern are displayed at the bottom of the pattern page along with reviews.

You can comment on other people's projects and see what else they've made. If you come across a maker whose projects you like, you can follow them (similar to "friending" on Ravelry) but there is no way to interact one-on-one with other users of the site. There are also no forums or discussions groups on LoveCrafts.


LoveCrafts has two mobile apps, one for LoveKnitting and one for LoveCrochet, but they're available only for Apple devices.


LoveCrafts in a nutshell

  • Pattern selection: limited compared to Ravelry

  • Yarn information: limited to available brands

  • Project notebook: yes

  • Forums & groups: none

  • Mobile app: Apple only, separate apps for knitting and crochet


Makerist logo

Makerist

Makerist is a German site founded in 2013 and, according to their website, they are the market leader in Europe for digital patterns and e-learning classes. They have three separate sites for the US (makerist.com), Germany (makerist.de), and France (makerist.fr). Makerist offers patterns and online courses for knitting, crochet, sewing, and embroidery as well as cutting files for Cricut and other plotters. The French and German sites also sell fabric, yarn, and notions.


The three separate sites each have separate pattern selections. The good news is you can use the same credentials to log onto all three sites. The bad news is, though, that purchases made in one don't carry over to the others. The US site currently has about 5 000 knitting patterns; there are approx. 5 600 patterns on the German site and 2 000 on the French site.


You can browse patterns by category or refine pattern search results by a handful of criteria but the options are much more limited than on Ravelry. What you can do on the German site, though, is limit pattern search results by size. This feature has been requested numerous times on Ravelry but, again, never implemented.


The pattern search options on Makerist are much more limited than on Ravelry.
The pattern search options on Makerist are much more limited than on Ravelry.

There is no yarn database or yarn information on the US site. The French and German sites have a selection of European big-box yarns like Schahenmayr or Rico Design. There are no links between patterns and yarns so you're left completely to your own devices when it comes to picking yarn for a pattern you want to make.

Starting a new project on Makerist.
Starting a new project on Makerist.

Makerist has a project notebook feature (called My Works) for keeping track of your makes. Similar to LoveCrafts, photos of linked projects are displayed at the bottom of a pattern page. Here's an example from the German site with the Lady Pull*ee hoodie by Nipnaps. (Try as I might, I couldn't find any linked projects on the US site.)

Projects made with a pattern are displayed at the bottom of a pattern page on Makerist.
Projects made with a pattern are displayed at the bottom of a pattern page on Makerist.

You can like and comment on other people's projects and see what else they've made. There is no option to follow or friend other users although you can follow designers (that is, pattern sellers). Other than commenting on projects, there is no way to interact with other users of the site. There are also no forums or discussions groups on Makerist.


Makerist has an AR (augmented reality) mobile app intended for transferring PDF sewing patterns directly onto fabric. However, this app is currently available only for Apple devices.


Makerist in a nutshell

  • Pattern selection: limited and dispersed on 3 separate sites

  • Yarn information: none

  • Project notebook: yes

  • Forums & groups: none

  • Mobile app: Apple only


Ribblr logo

Ribblr

Ribblr is a brand new site launched in October 2020. This UK-based site had already been a year or so into the development at the time Ravelry's New Look was launched so they were in a prime position to launch as an alternative.


Ribblr's angle is a little unique compared to other sites. Patterns on the site are available only in their proprietary electronic format called the Ribblr ePattern. The ePattern automatically tracks your progress through a pattern, displays instructions pertaining only to the size you're working, and can even do automatic translations and measurement conversions. But using the ePattern also means you have to work with a computer screen or mobile device open — there's no print-outs. For designers this means having to re-type all pattern instructions in the proprietary format since you can't just upload PDF files to the site.

Pattern search options are quite limited on Ribblr.
Pattern search options are quite limited on Ribblr.

Ribblr currently offers knitting, crochet, Tunisian crochet, and sewing patterns. You can limit search results by four broad categories (clothing, accessories, toys, home) or by skill level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) — there is no advanced search. It's impossible to tell how many patterns are currently available on the site since the search results don't give any numbers. There is also no yarn database on Ribblr.


Starting a new journal entry on Ribblr.
Starting a new journal entry on Ribblr.

Ribblr's version of a project notebook is the journal. However, you can only link journal entries to patterns acquired from the site. Journal entries can be public or private — something's that's been asked of Ravelry but never implemented. Public journal entries are displayed at the bottom of the pattern page, like these cute Little Frogs by Stella's Yarn Universe. You can view (but not like) other people's journal entries and see what else they've made.

Public journal entries are linked to a pattern on Ribblr.
Public journal entries are linked to a pattern on Ribblr.

Unlike the other two sites reviewed so far, Ribblr also has private messaging between users as well as a public discussion forum that all users can access. If you've been on the site for a while, it's also possible to create Ravelry-like groups (called "personal spaces" on Ribblr) that can be set to public or private. Ribblr currently has about 4 500 users which is a far cry from the 9.8 million on Raverly. (After this post was published, Ribblr has removed the user count from public view, the cheeky sneaks. I guess they don't want you to know how small they still are.)


Ribblr is available as an app for both Android and Apple devices.


Ribblr in a nutshell

  • Pattern selection: limited search options, ePattern format only

  • Yarn information: none

  • Project notebook: Ribblr patterns only

  • Forums & groups: yes; must be an established member to start one

  • Mobile app: Android and Apple


Fiber Club logo

Fiber Club

Fiber Club is so new it isn't even out yet! Fiber Club was announced just a couple of weeks after the New Look launch as a response of Ravelry's poor handling of the accessibility issues. However, development seems to have stalled in the subsequent months. Other than a logo reveal in September 2020 and a private alpha test later in the year, no one's seen what it will look like.


Fiber Club intends to be an inclusive, accessible, and diverse community for all sorts of fiber crafts. It is primarily developed as a mobile app for pattern buying. Website and other aspects such as project pages come later. What features the site will offer in the future is pretty much anyone's guess at this point.


You can keeps tabs on Fiber Club development on their blog and on Instagram at @fiber.club.


Fiber Club in a nutshell

  • Pattern selection: ???

  • Yarn information: ???

  • Project notebook: ???

  • Forums & groups: ???

  • Mobile app first, website later


Comparison of four social media sites for knitters.

Where's your new fiber-y home? Sticking with Ravelry or migrating elsewhere? Let me know in the comments!

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