Tell us about your background in fiber arts and coding
My background in fiber arts is, one could say, equally circuitous. I learned how to knit from my then-boyfriend, now-partner’s colleagues during a day-long yarny road trip around the state! I vividly remember being taught how to knit a too-small hat in the back seat while we were trapped in traffic, sweltering under the unbearably hot Indiana summer sun. Since then, I’ve started sharing my content on Instagram, picking up some new crafts along the way, and the rest is history!
What inspired you to create knotelry?
While I’m primarily a knitter and spinner, my partner and I have other crafty hobbies as well, such as 3D printing and miniature painting. When I was trying to teach myself a new front end framework (Vue.js), I was thinking of different projects I could develop as practice. The thought of a web application that could be robust and flexible enough to support multiple different crafts came very naturally from that space and thus, knotelry was born!
What are some of the challenges you have faced or are facing creating knotelry?
The main challenge is balancing the design of the web application with learning a new framework. Because I’m entirely self-taught with Vue.js, there have been many instances of having to go back to refactor code I’ve written, attempting to improve the site’s optimization, while still adhering to the initial goal of creating a user-friendly multi-craftual experience.
The secondary challenge is ensuring that the crafts that are supported by the site are adequately supported. As it’s impossible for me to learn every craft I want to eventually support, and therefore difficult for me to know exactly what kinds of information is pertinent to each craft, I’ve had to rely on my other multi-craftual friends for their input. For example, as I’m not a weaver myself, I’ve had to ask my weaving friends what kinds of information fields would be necessary for supplementing their project logging experience, as well as get their help on supplying seeder data to test out various features of the site.
Finally, I’ve had to deal with the challenges that come from attempting to create something that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but provides a streamlined user experience without sacrificing accessibility. Although I did take a few courses in user-experience and user-interface design in my undergraduate program, I am by no means a UI/UX designer, nor am I an accessibility expert! Much like Vue.js, I’m mostly self-taught, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting an actual expert’s thoughts and opinions once the project is at an appropriate stage. We’ve all seen what happened with Ravelry when it comes to accessibility issues, and it is imperative for me that knotelry doesn’t suffer from the same pitfalls.
Main differences between knotelry and Ravelry
In spite of the name knotelry clearly being a riff on Ravelry (and this is an in-progress name; I just needed a name for the project repository and I’m a huge sucker for puns), knotelry’s focus is more on the project journaling experience than a pattern/yarn database. Despite recent changes to Ravelry that have made the site less accessible for some folks, Ravelry has a robust database, developed over time by its user base and (as far as I am aware) unmatched by any other crafting platform. I’m not particularly interested in emulating that at the moment; my focus with this project is more on creating a journaling experience that can be as flexible as the user desires. To that end, knotelry will be supporting more crafts, including non-fiber arts, and will allow for projects that incorporate multiple different crafts concurrently.
What made you think of a craft journal? Would it work as an app, on a website?
Knotelry is currently being developed for desktop browsing. Eventually, I would love to have the site be mobile friendly, and perhaps even an app, but those are definitely much further down the dev roadmap. Since my dev focus is on developing web applications for desktop browsing, I’ll need to hire someone, or become part of a team that has much more experience in mobile development!
What are the crafts that you would include?
Currently knotelry supports spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and embroidery (I am currently working on fully implementing this last feature). As I alluded to prior, I am very interested in expanding the site’s repertoire to non-fiber arts, and the first one of those I have planned out is 3D printing! My partner is an avid 3D printing nerd, and he agrees that a project journaling experience would be immensely beneficial to his overall enjoyment of the hobby. While it might seem a little incongruous to include these sorts of crafts to a platform that started off with a focus on fiber arts, I believe there is much value to be found in incorporating new technologies and communities into our own. For example, 3D printing has greatly reduced the cost and, by extension, barriers to entry for traditionally pricier hobbies such as spinning (e.g.: the Electric Eel Wheel). After that, I’m unsure as to where knotelry will go, but I am always looking for input from the community! 🙂
Would you be able to store purchased patterns that can be accessible only to the user?
Great question! Currently, projects have fields that allow the user to input the pattern title, the pattern author, and a link to the pattern. However, I definitely agree that having a central location on knotelry where the user can browse owned patterns would be a huge draw. Unfortunately, there are data architecture limitations to that, at least at this stage of the project’s development. It would require a large amount of cloud storage for this to be feasible, as I’m sure each user would have dozens (or, if you’re like me, hundreds!) of patterns they would like to store. But depending on the direction knotelry takes as it continues to grow and develop, I would eventually love to incorporate a library feature.
Other features I am looking to incorporate is a forum-style groups feature. Of course, if it does become fully implemented on the site, and if knotelry becomes a Real Thing, community moderation is a must. We’ve seen how unmoderated community threads can become toxic and dangerous places for marginalized peoples in recent years. In spite of that, I do believe that properly moderated spaces can grow to become beautiful community spaces for collaboration and camaraderie, so I will definitely be looking to include moderators and codes of conduct in the far future.
Where do hope to see knotelry evolve to in 5 years? (OR, If you had the resources to develop knotelry to be/do anything, what would you do?)
My primary concern would be to create a sustainable business model, either by initiating something myself or by merging with a group. In the wake of Ravelry’s accessibility mishaps, multiple new platforms catered towards crafters have been developed (or are currently in development). I believe knotelry is fairly unique in that it doesn’t limit itself to solely the fiber arts, so that is one angle I, or a group I join, could leverage.
Establishing ourselves with a sustainable business model would allow knotelry to expand to various new features that would augment the overall user experience! This could include a centralized database for uploading one’s owned patterns, more robust group features, prioritizing accessibility and community elements, and so much more.
From a more abstracted point of view, I would love to see knotelry become every crafter’s go-to platform for organizing their various crafty experiences, as well as a safe, welcoming, and inclusive community for all of us to share our crafting journeys.