Saturday, January 3, 2009


Three posts in one week--I must be starved for posting. I guess I am making up for lost time since I had a one month blog hiatus between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just had too much to do.

I was poking about on the internet last night and ended up visiting a website I hadn't been to in many months: Woolworks has been around for 15 years. It was one of the first sites on the internet to try and create a comprehensive site for listing techniques, resources, books, etc. for knitters spinners, dyers and other fiber artists. The creator is a woman named Emily Way and she was the driving force for this site which I thought was a great idea from the get-go. I found woolworks myself in about 1995 or '96 and I used it time and again as a centralized resource for my knitcraft.

The internet has had usegroups, threads and discussion boards since the early days and I initially belonged to some of these online groups. I shortly found out, however, that following threads and discussion boards is really not my thing. I feel like I spend more time wading through posts than getting things done and I get bored. No disrespect intended to those who love the format, but there it is.

So then there was It had a comprehensive book list of titles and authors, lists of stores by location, updated by information sent from users, a gallery of pictures, and techniques, just to name a few of the available things. It even had a discussion boards and a page of OTHER discussion board URL's. My favorite page was the information on dyeing yarn with koolaid, down to a table of the colors you get based on the drink mix flavor. Excellent! All this cool fiber stuff and it was all free.

Recently, I noticed that there was not a lot of updated content for the site. It was mostly run by Ms. Way and a crew of other volunteers. It was not for profit and was supported entirely by donations. It must have been a hell of a lot of work to do. I have enough trouble keeping up with this tiny little blog. I can't imagine how much time a large website of that sort must have taken.

So why am I writing all this? There is a notice on the Woolworks homepage that as of November 25, 2008, Woolworks is shutting down. Man. I was very sad about this! I must say, I was only mildly surprised, however, given some of the other sites now on the web. Everyone these days seems to have a blog--even me. The internet seems like unlimited information for fiberhounds. And then there is Ravelry.

The current gold standard for fiber artists these days (in my humble opinion) is I am a dedicated Raveller. My Rabbitknitz logo is also my Ravetar. I log onto Ravelry daily, keep my projects updated, surf patterns and books. The format is easy to use and the user can post projects and pictures for others to see and to refer back to with minimal fuss. I love Ravelry! websites like Ravelry, however, really evolved out of earlier web iterations like Woolworks. There are even things that Ravelry doesn't (yet?) have like the comprehensive list of fiber stores that Woolwroks dis hove. Planning a trip? You could go to Woolworks beforehand and make a list of stores that might be on your route with very little fuss. That is a very cool thing! I am deeply deeply sorry to see Woolworks going away.

The data on the site is apparently being archived at places like the Internet Archive Wayback Machine so that the content will be preserved. Trust Emily to do the classy thing: no sudden shutdown, but an organized filing away of information.

The most distressing thing to me, however, is that I googled the site and the shutdown, there was nothing, NOTHING!, about it to be found. No chat, no postings, zip, I felt that I had to add my two cents worth to the end of Woolworks. Thanks, Emily and all your volunteers, all the users and crafters who added to and maintained the site for 15 great years. My hat is off in a respectful salaam to Emily Way for creating and maintaining this website for the use and edification of crafters world wide. Woolworks, you will be missed.

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