In a survey of my newsletter subscribers, two-thirds responded that they have at least one online knitting community. Most of those responses indicated that the online community was on Ravelry (almost three-fourths), but a fifth use Facebook. Those are the two places I use myself, so that's what I'm going to focus on, but I'll mention a couple of other online communities as well.
How many Ravelry groups do you belong to? I'm in 60 (eek!), although I'm more active in some than others. There are groups for just about anything you can imagine, from specific designers or dyers to various fandoms to parenting groups and more. In fact, there's so much choice that it can be overwhelming.
To find a group, start by going to the Groups tab at the top of Ravelry. From there, you can search for groups or browse by topics. Want to know if there's a group for people who love Doctor Who? Just type that into the search box. Anything you can think of that you're interested in, try searching for it.
Once you get a list of results, you'll notice that there's some information below the name of each group. You'll get a brief description of the group, along with the following data: number of members, how long ago the group was formed, and how many posts were made in the group in the past month. If you see a group on the list that says, "no posts in the last month," that's a sign that the group is not currently active. You can still take a look at it, but it's better to find groups that actually have had posts in the past month.
Here's something to think about. How much time do you want to spend in the Ravelry forums each day? Do you want a lively group that posts a lot (so you'd need to spend a good chunk of time reading threads so you can stay in the loop) or do you want a group that is active but not overwhelming? (If you go to "browse groups" beneath the search box, you can sort groups by the number of posts per day. The current top group has over 65,000 posts per month. There's definitely a lot of community in that group! But if you're anything like me, that might be a bit too much to truly be able to handle and feel like part of the group.)
Each group then has a discussion board that you use to talk to the other members of the group. Each link on the discussion board is called a thread, and each thread has a specific topic. You can start a new thread or respond to one that's already there. When you respond to a thread already there, you have two main options for posting: "reply to thread" and "reply to post." What's the difference?
Reply to thread, which is the button at the bottom of the page, just posts a reply to the thread as a whole, not connecting it to any specific post. You should use this option when you're just wanting to add to the thread rather than comment on a specific post someone else wrote.
On each person's post, you'll see a reply button. If you use that button, you are replying to that specific person. Your reply will be connected to theirs (at the top of the post it will say "reply to X's post #Y") and that person will receive a notification that there has been a reply to a post he/she wrote. So make sure to use this option only when you are actually replying to a specific person.
Why might you want to join a Ravelry group (or groups) as part of your online community? There are lots of choices available for the topic of groups, so you can find ones that feel most comfortable to you. It's easy to share your knitting projects with one another. And all of your knitting-related online activities can be done in one place (finding patterns, adding to your stash or project pages, etc.). And even if you pick a group based upon something that's not knitting related, you know that everyone in the group is a knitter or crocheter. Also, you don't have to share your real name or location on your Ravelry profile, so if you prefer to keep personal information private online, Ravelry is a good option for you to have an online community yet only share the information you feel comfortable sharing.
The second main option for online communities is Facebook. Like Ravelry, there are tons of options for groups on Facebook. It can be a little harder to find them, however, because if you type "Knitting" into the search box, you get quite a few options yet not every group related to knitting will show up. But go ahead and try it. Type knitting into the search box and then click on Groups on the list across the top. (Make sure you choose a Group rather than a Page because groups allow you to interact with other members more easily.)
When I do that, the first one I see is called "Knitting" and it has over 49,000 members. But if I scroll down, I see lots of other options and various group sizes. Again, like Ravelry, you need to decide how big of a group you'd like to be part of and how much time you truly want to spend reading and responding to posts. (I personally like smaller groups so I feel like I can stay up to date with the posts and get to know everyone in the group, but I know others prefer to have really large active groups and don't worry about trying to catch up with everything. Fortunately, there are groups that work no matter which type you prefer.)
You can choose to have the group posts show up in your Facebook news feed and/or you can catch up with a specific group by going to that group's page to read the posts. A Facebook group is nice if you're on Facebook a lot anyway because it can just become part of your usual Facebook check-in. The biggest negative is that if you want to be part of a community for something not knitting related, then the others in that group are less likely to be knitters themselves (unlike other topics for groups on Ravelry), so if you want a knitting community on Facebook, you'll need to stick with knitting-specific groups. One negative is that you have to have a Facebook profile in order to join groups, so if you're hesitant about sharing personal information, even your real name, online, Facebook probably isn't right for you.
If you're looking for a small Facebook group in which members create a goal each week, post progress of WIPs, and share tips and techniques, I'd love to have you join the group I started, Build Your Knitting Skills and Confidence.
Other Online Options
Although I personally find enough online communities between Ravelry and Facebook, there are other options out there. If you do a Google search for "knitting forum," several results pop up. I'm personally familiar with only one of those, but others that pop up in that search might be worth exploring.
I actually started out with the forums on the Knitting Help website when I was first learning to knit. In fact, it was through those forums that I learned about Ravelry (back when it was in beta and you had to wait for an invitation). I haven't been back to these forums since joining Ravelry, but it looks like they're still fairly active.
Another place online for a knitting community is Reddit. There's a knitting-specific Reddit community, and I've dropped in there occasionally but don't usually post anything. But if you're interested in becoming part of this community, there are some helpful links on the right side of the page (beneath Welcome!) that will help you figure out how to navigate Reddit. There are also several other knitting-related Reddit communities, which you can find through some of the links on the right side of the page I linked above. If you're familiar with Reddit already (my husband uses it quite a lot), this could be a good option for you.
I hope that if you don't already have an online community, that you give some of these options a try. Even if you don't keep up with every post, it's nice to have a place you can go to chat with other knitters and fiber enthusiasts, no matter where you live and any time of the day or night.
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