Ravelry is a free community site for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners and dyers -- pretty much anyone who works with yarn and patterns. The site aims to help users "organize, share and discover" within the yarn artisan community. The founders created Ravelry to fill a niche they themselves were looking for -- a centralized, easy place to find and share information about patterns, yarn and the like. They built their own community, inviting users to join and share their knowledge about knitting, crocheting and more.
Founded in 2005, Ravelry.com currently has 350,565 registered users [source: Ravelry]. As of this writing, Ravelry is invitation-only and ad-supported. Potential users must apply for an invite and usually receive one within a few days. The site is incredibly popular, even though it's not even formally out of the testing phase yet.
Ravelry gives users a place to organize their ongoing projects -- listing what pattern and yarn they're using, posting photos of finished works or works in progress, and allowing fellow users to comment and advise them on their projects. Forum topics range everywhere from "How do I use double-pointed needles?" to "Have you seen the new Star Trek?"
A few small business owners credit Ravelry with helping them to get their businesses off the ground. Maggie Simser of Dyed in the Wool Handmade, who sells hand-dyed yarn and spinning fiber, says Ravelry's inexpensive advertising opportunities helped establish her online shop. Users look forward finding out about her store's latest additions, and when they use her yarn in a project, that information shows up in their profiles, which provides even more visibility to her target audience [source: Simser].