I think we can safely say that it has been a turbulent few days. I was all set to send a newsletter on Monday morning and then the news of Ravelry’s rule change broke and the knitting world went into a spin - even making the news headlines on the BBC and the leader pages of the Guardian.
If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about you can read all about the new Ravelry rules here and the background to it here.
As much as we all enjoy knitting and use it as a coping mechanism for our everyday stresses, I think there has definitely come a time when it isn’t sufficient to insist that we just ‘stick to the knitting’. The personal is political and the impact that politics has on our lives is immense and inescapable whether you choose to recognise it or not.
My very first pattern sales were through Ravelry, indeed it was Ravelry that made me realise that self published pattern sales were even possible. Although I’ve dabbled with sales on other sites: LoveKnitting - woeful and Patternfish - clunky, Ravelry has always been my mainstay.
To be crystal clear, I fully support Ravelry’s position and my future pattern sales will be through Ravelry. I have no plans to make them available elsewhere.
In addition it seems that there are a few chain letters (for want of a better word) being sent to designers and yarnies, asking for a refund on goods bought. Designers who are standing by Ravelry are being asked for refunds by people who are choosing to leave the platform. You can see a particularly hilarious example I shared on my Instagram page here.
Again, to be clear, Designers sell a digital download and that is what the buyer receives. When a platform changes it’s terms and conditions, the buyer has no recourse to refunds for products bought before that.
The stance that Ravelry has taken, whilst admirable is just the first step though. Part of the backlash that we have seen over recent days is a reaction to the fact that we can’t go back to a time when it was ‘just about the knitting’. This has made for some uncomfortable reading, especially as makers of colour and other marginalised groups have been campaigning about this for some considerable time. This could be the time for real, significant progress in making our craft a truly inclusive one but we can only do that by considering the impact of our choices and decisions in our everyday lives. The makers and companies that we support, and by extension those that we choose not to.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Ravelry is a free service and if you use it as often as I do, you might like to make a small donation. Or, an even better way is to buy a few patterns or gift a few to friends and spread a little love. I’ve recommended a few designers below whose work I really admire and who have been tireless in campaigning for a change in attitudes for some considerable time. This is by no means an exhaustive list though and I would really urge you to explore and find new people whose work you may not have seen before
Ravelry donation page
Grace Anna Farrow
Gaye Glasspie - @ggmadeit
Francoise Danoy - @arohaknits