So there I was: standing at the keyboard of my LYS’s computer, with half of the guild’s members gathered around waiting to see if I could convince them that it was worth overcoming their disinclination to venture onto the internet.
For the record, I don’t buy into the “older people don’t/can’t use the internet” stereotype. Sure, they didn’t grow up with it the way my generation did, but there are plenty of people in later generations who are perfectly at home online. However, this half of our knitting guild is made up of some of the older members, retirement age and above, and many of them aren’t comfortable on the computer.
The class I was teaching wasn’t my idea. We had just shifted to having the guild members present the educational portion of our guild meeting, rather than the guild president (who was serving a second term this year and had done all of the programs last year). When the sign-up sheet went around, I signed up for the very first slot. We’ll be moving soon, and so I wanted to make sure I had a chance to “pay my debt” and give back for all the education I’d received over the previous year. As we discussed the programs that might be offered, I mentioned that I didn’t have anything in mind. “How about knitting on the internet?” someone suggested, and several voices were immediately raised in agreement.
Apparently, the fact that I almost always wear my Ravelry t-shirt to the LYS has been noticed. And, honestly, I do talk about Ravelry a lot, as well as other great sites online, and most of them know I have a knitting blog.
I put a lot of thought into the best way to present the class. I wanted to give my fellow guild members a good idea of what was available, without overwhelming them with all of the options. But the options I chose had to be intriguing enough to make them want to take a look.
So I went through all of my knitting bookmarks and came up with a game plan.
- Instructional: When I mentioned that knitting emergencies tend to come up at 10 pm, when we can’t exactly call Ann, our LYSO, I saw enough grins that I knew I wasn’t the only one who had that problem. So the instructional videos available at places like Knit Witch and Knitting Help.com were well received.
- Informational: My go-to site is always Knitter’s Review, and I saw the idea of being able to get unbiased reviews from both Clara Parkes and the users of the forums was a popular one. I even ended up jotting down the name of Clara’s The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, which in my opinion is the definitive word on the subject, for one guild member.
- Free Patterns: C’mon, who doesn’t like free patterns? Knitty was an obvious choice to show everyone, especially since it also provided information and instruction along with the beautiful patterns. I also love the DROPS patterns selection from Garn Studios for their variety.
- Podcasts: Ok, I knew this would be a hard sell, and the minute I said “MP3 player” I knew I’d lost some listeners. But when you live in south Texas, long drives are a given, and when I pointed out it would give the ladies something to listen to on those long drives, I saw some ears perk up. I used the KnitPick’s podcasts as my example.
- Blogs: Of course, these are women who don’t work during the day, so they’ve got plenty of time to sit around and idly surf the internet, right? Yeah…no. Not so much. Some of them are a lot busier than I am as a stay-at-home mom. But I did want to point out that there’s good stuff out there on some knitting blogs…although since I used mine as the example, I’m not sure how many I hooked. But I did flip over to both The Lumpy Sweater (Genuine’s sock pictures were greatly enjoyed–many ladies commented on the great combination of color and pattern) and Lime & Violet’s Daily Chum to show some other examples.
By this point, I could tell that most of them were still interested. So I moved to the piece de resistance…Ravelry, of course.
I knew that most of my listeners were aware of social networking sites like Facebook, and they had no interest in being part of something like that. So when I logged on, the first place I took them was My Notebook. I showed them how I could put down all of the notes about the project I was working on…and then I hit them with the ability to use the links to everyone else’s notebooks to look at other versions of the same pattern, or other projects knit with the same yarn. I showed them how they could look up any yarn they had, and then I showed them how I could find the perfect cardigan knitted in worsted weight wool from any book or magazine in my own library without pulling a book off the shelf…or even while I was in the LYS!
At that, I could see I had a winner.
Several of the ladies asked for a chance to jot down some of the websites I’d shown them, so I was glad I’d already printed out business cards with all of them. When several of the ladies asked for my Ravelry name so they could find me–some of whom I hadn’t expected to convince–I knew I’d done a good day’s work.