Knitters in Social Media as Team Players

Posted on 24, November 2009 by


Recently Chris Brogan tweeted that leaders in social media should be inspired to act as if in a team sport. I had to laugh while reading those words, and did so heartily. I know of many examples of where knitters easily demonstrated what it is like to be a team player. How do these events happen? I will hoppily explain.

During the weekend I was in PodCamp Boston 4, the first annual Sock Summit was held in Portland, OR. This conference of knitters brought together many of the fibery rockstars from around the world. For months the lists of names in attendance were gossiped and discussed. Though the server hosting the classes database crashed after 5 minutes from 50,000 people trying to register for the 3,500 available slots, I managed to buying 2 tickets for the opening night’s festivities and a class with an alternative time slot. (For some reason, the webhosting sites NEVER believe that knitters can crash a server no matter how much they are warned.) What is astounding is that 99% of the communication was done via the social network of Ravelry, blogging, and emails. In Ravelry’s Sock Summit forum, questions were answered about traveling, lodging, restaurants, who was attending, who was teaching, and who was vending. Manufacturers made special editions of their products just for that event and posted the details online. There was a contest between hand-dyers on which yarn should be chosen as the official Sock Summit one, and all members of Ravelry were encouraged to vote. The worldwide scores of folks flying in from Germany, the UK, Australia, and other countries amazed many. Yet the common bond between these people was the same: all were interested in sock knitting and all were active in social media.

One of the ladies who co-founded the concept of Sock Summit did a similar event back in the 2005 Winter Olympics. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the “Yarn Harlot” of Toronto, issued a challenge on her blog. She was going to cast on a brand new project on her needles when the Olympic torch was lit to commence the Games, and she was going to finish it by the time the torch was extinguished. When the words were live for all to see, she had an immediate worldwide response of others joining her challenge. The crazy numbers that I remember during the event: there were about 4000 athletes competing in the Olympics versus the 7300 folks competing in the knitting Olympics.

Now for my last example, I was at the Stitches East convention in Hartford this past September. The booth I was running was to encourage knitters to participate on the “Bigsock” project. This project is the running attempt to break the current Guinness Book of World Record’s largest hand-knitted sock. To promote the last minute appearance of the booth, I used whatever tools that seemed to target the main audience I wanted to connect: Ravelry, Twitter, and Facebook. Yes, I could have used both the blogs of Bigsock and mine, but I knew that time was of the essence. I quickly posted threads in various groups on Ravelry that would see the information, updated them with posts so as to nudge them back to the front when necessary, and involved Jenny (aka “DivineBird“), a known local fiberista, work with me in the booth. The results paid off. The folks who read my threads spread the word, and along with the members of Jenny’s spinning/knitting ensemble, all arrived to do their fair share on the sock. Together by using social media tools, we accomplished over 38 rounds knitted during that one weekend! A quick visual on the amount of what 38 rounds equals: each round is 1500 stitches which means 57,000 stitches were done in those 3 days.

These examples are only a smidgeon of what knitters have done together by way of social media. Who’d a thought that folks with pointy sticks could do so much? =:8