Friday, August 15, 2008

Where did my day go?

My average day usually consists of bouncing back and forth between travel consulting and fiction writing. My days seem full enough with those two subjects. Really, I'm writing all day in one form or another, whether it be travel itineraries or my latest romance. I tend to wind down in the evening with a little knitting while watching CSI, Criminal Minds, Reaper or similar program. One would think I really didn't have time for anything else. Right? Well, how wrong we all are!

Then came...

Ravelry is a free service that came on stream about 18 months ago, and has been growing in popularity and membership like a runaway freight train. The site is still in beta test mode, but the last I heard they had more than 165,000 members from around the world! Me among them. They have a wait list for acceptance into the site. Where once there was a wait of several months, they're not joining members every couple days.

Once joined, the site offers a plethora of options for knitting/crochet enthusiasts. The site originally started as a place to keep track of knitting/crochet projects. They have a projects page where members can post photos and details of each project. Those listings are comprehensive and include needle/hook size, yarn used, where you bought your yarn, pattern used, who designed the pattern, who the item is for, when you started and finished the project...even a notes section so you can leave comments on the project, pattern, yarn, whatever. And you can include photos of your work, from your first cast on stitch to your last cast off stitch, blocking and assembly.

If that's not enough, the service includes a pattern library for free and paid patterns, a section that lists all known yarns and yarn companies, a members section and groups you can join. There's also a library where you can search for and list all the books in your library, a section where you can list all of the needles/hooks that you own, a stash section so you can keep track of what's in all those bags under the bed or boxes in the closet, a list of queued project and favorite projects from other members, you can contribute a pattern as a designer (indeed you can list yourself as a designer), a list of all of your the friends you've linked to (hopefully they've linked back to you), an on-site messaging service and untold numbers of groups you can join to share your thoughts with other likeminded people. And there are groups for just about everything you can imaging, from tv programs to dog owners to charity name it, there's probably a group for it, though most groups are broken down by country/state/region, by yarn company, and even by magazine. Members can even post their own special avatar, known as Ravatars...anything from pictures of your pet doing silly things to your favorite yarn or project...or even your own visage.

And that's just the surface of it. Join groups and, even if you're just a lurker, you can spend your whole lunch hour reading through messages. If you post and have replies, well, there goes your lunch hour, and some of your work day. And if you want to add to your projects pages, there goes your afternoon...between taking pictures of your item(s) and getting them loaded to Flickr then setting up your project page for each project...etc.

I'm guilty of spenting long hours on Ravelry...of taking up valuable hours that should be spent on my clients or my fiction, or indeed just taking the dogs out. I've neglected the dishes in the sink, watering the potted plants and even doing laundry all so I can play on Ravelry. I have to constantly remind myself, especially when my DH comes home and looking for his dinner that Ravelry is NOT my job!

At least I'm not alone. I know there are more than 165,000 other members in the same boat with me.

Ravelry has a lot to answer for. They're like a drug supplier. Give the unsuspecting a taste, then make it free. They'll never get enough once they're hooked...and they're hooked from the first taste.

This addict is now heading back to Ravelry to post my most recent project. Of course I'll need to take the photos of where I am in the project first. Then I'll have to post a new page and start listing what it's taking to create this item. The dogs? Surely they can wait to go out for another hour. Can't they?