The internet has had a huge impact on the life of the modern crafter. I have to say I despise the overused statement that knitting is not just for your grandmother anymore. I am still stunned when I see it used in print. And hell, there are knitting grandmothers online! The internet became a tool for the modern stitcher way back in 2002 with the publication of Knitty, the first online knitting magazine. Before that there were these new sites called weblogs that could be found by the intrepid knitter hungry for connection. Most of our community was found in the few yarn stores that still existed back then. And those stores were not looking ahead in their businesses, they were slowing down and looking back. The knitting world took to the internet like a duck to water. To those of us who were riding the wave it felt like discovering gold every time we'd find another brave chronicler talking about their exploits online. At first you felt like you were part of the inside crowd that you knew about bloggers. I remember attending the NY Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck in 2004 feeling like a member of the inside crowd that I recognized the Clapoti pattern on so many other knitters. I was wearing mine, of course. Now the woman who designed that paradigm changing pattern runs her own online magazine- the Twist Collective.
When Ravelry arrived in 2007 the National press started noticing the online knitting community and articles popped up all over. That's when you started reading how knitting wasn't just for grandmothers in their rocking chairs anymore, sheesh. Ravelry was a game changer. With blogs you could search for a pattern you had heard of or seen, but it was not a given that you would find it. With Ravelry everything was there, organized, codified, dated, searchable. Wondering what something looks like knitted up, chances are you'll find a hundred different versions on Ravelry in all shapes and sizes and in many different yarns, with notes and alterations there for your perusal. Bazinga! Many of us lost hours, days of our lives cruising Ravelry...
I had an eighteen month battle with Tennis Elbow (which was caused by my knitting- more about that in another post) just over a year ago, which required my putting down the knitting needles. I almost had a nervous breakdown, but was saved by the collective online head turning from knitting to sewing, and other related crafts. Not surprisingly, the knitting community began to explore other tactile fiber pursuits and the online sewing community was born. With this movement came new fabric designs and an ever growing array of textile substrates. Online establishments like Etsy started to show fabric from such hotbeds of textile production as Japan. All the infrastructure was already there, because of the knitters, so the sewists just fleshed out their corner. And because we move ever faster, I would say that the online sewing community now matches the knitting community in terms of size, scope and reach. The entire Modern Quilt Guild movement went from a couple of blogs to the first Modern Quilt show, QuiltCon in about two years.
Modern crafting (and yes, that word is fraught with baggage, but bear with me here) has embraced the digital analog split that is inherent in it's very being. We modern crafters are versant in the ways of the internet, we learn about patterns and fabrics and yarn and events online. But the very thing that we do with all this information is totally not online. You must be present with physical materials to knit or sew. And that is what I think so many of of us love about it. Stitching connects us to tradition, to history, to our community. It connects us to generations before us who made the same stitches with their needles. We may be working with a pattern that we downloaded on our computer, and printed out (or perhaps we're even reading the pattern on our phone), the materials we are working with may have been mailed to us from far away, but we are going through the exact same motions that were made fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago.
At A Gathering of Stitches we will embrace all that is modern and all that is traditional in our practices. We will teach time honored techniques, side by side with modern technology. We will seek out teachers of the old ways and encourage the discovery of new ones. All skills are welcome, all approaches embraced, all methods considered. Come join us in this exploration!