Ravelry Workshop Blocking: The Tech

Our first Ravelry workshop happened last night and to put it in knitting terms, it’s off the needles, the ends are woven in, and now I’m blocking it to see the final results. I’m blogging about a few different aspects of it in separate blog posts to keep it from being one novel-length post. This post will cover the tech set-up.

As part of our Studio Rhode grant, we received iPads and iPad Pros and an Apple TV that I was able to use for this program. Here’s how I set it up:

-one Apple TV, connected to a TV at the head of our table

-one iPad Pro per student (I had 8 students pre-registered, so I brought 9 iPads, just in case)

-one iPad Pro for me, which I used to AirPlay with the Apple TV

 

I prepared each iPad by opening Safari and signing into the same Ravelry account. I had previously made a Google form survey, so I sent a link to it in a Ravelry message to this SRWesterly account. Once Ravelry was open on a device, I would go to the messages and open the survey link in a new tab so that it would be waiting for the students at the end of the class.

I decided to use the iPad Pros rather than the regular iPads so that students could use the included Apple Pencils as a stylus if they wished. Since it was a small group, we had enough Pros to make this work, though regular iPads would have also been fine.

This tech set-up worked pretty well, though the TV ended up being pretty far from the attendees at the other end of the table. Using the iPads gave us so much more flexibility over where we could hold the class and how many students we could accommodate. Some of the students were more familiar with iPads than others, but the learning curve was fairly minimal.

I got very positive reviews on the survey afterward, with one attendee noting that her favorite part was using the iPad during the workshop. There was another note about how the TV was too far away, so it may be worth rearranging the physical set-up for the next workshop.

 

 

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Ravelry Workshop Blocking: Attendees

Our very first Ravelry Workshop is done! To put it in knitting terms, it’s off the needles, the ends are woven in, and now I’m blocking it to see the final results. To avoid making one incredibly long post, I’m going to break it down into a couple. This post is all about our attendees – how they got there, how they registered, etc.

Registration (on our website and on a hard copy sign-up sheet at the Reference Desk) started off slow – as of last week, there were only two people signed up (both from our Knit and Crochet group.) As of this Tuesday (the day before the workshop,) we were up to eight registrants! Though I started promoting it week earlier (posters went up in the library, I made a Facebook post with the link on August 24th,) there was a late flurry of registration. Our email blast with September events had gone out over the weekend, the printed calendars were distributed shortly before, plus people may have seen the promotions earlier but needed time to check their calendars. We had four sign up at the Reference Desk and four on our website. While requiring online sign-up would ensure that all students were fairly computer-savvy, having a hard copy at the Reference Desk was pretty essential for capturing sign-ups from our regular Knit & Crochet Club members and from people who saw the posters in the library. Thanks to the survey the students took at the end of the class, I learned that two people heard about it through posters in the library, two people heard about it through the Knit & Crochet Club, and we got one each from our email blast, Facebook post, and word of mouth.

In all, we had seven people attend – it turns out one of the online registrations that said it was for two people was likely meant to be one, but I didn’t take attendance to confirm (something I now regret.) This is an amazing turn out – many of our events that require registrations have many no-shows, especially with the rainy weather we had that evening. Because of this, we tend not to use the registration system, but I decided to use it to keep the class small and to make sure that I prepared enough iPads for all attendees.

I had such lovely students in the class, which made it the workshop run so smoothly! The students ranged from beginner knitters to very experienced. They also ranged from people who had never used Ravelry to people who had been using the site for years but felt they could be doing more with it (spoiler alert: everyone could be doing more with it. It has so many neat features, often explained on their Unraveled blog, but the site is a little older and not too intuitive so they can be tough to find on your own.)

Since only two students were part of the Knit & Crochet Club, we did promote the group pretty heavily to the other students. This also shows me that it’s time to promote the Knit & Crochet Club again – we started it off with lots of promotion when it launched last autumn, but it might be time to boost it again now that the cool weather is coming and we’ve added handy iPads thanks to Studio Rhode!

When the class ended, I had everyone fill out an anonymous survey using Google forms (more on that in a post to come) but I didn’t collect contact information. I’m kicking myself now, because I feel like it would be great to start a fiber arts email list. I did show everyone our Knit & Crochet @ Westerly Library group on Ravelry and encouraged everyone to find and friend me on there if they ever have a question (I also gave my professional, at-work contact information.)

Lessons learned: take attendance, ask if people want to join a mailing list, and try many different avenues of promotion (almost all of ours worked.) Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get sign-ups right away – you may still have a full class the day-of!

Upcoming Ravelry Workshop

Registration is now open for our Ravelry workshop! It will be held Wednesday, September 6th from 6 to 7:30 pm in the Reference Department (where our Knit and Crochet Club meets every Tuesday.) Ravelry is an online community for knitters and crocheters but it is so much more than a social media site; it offers searchable patterns (with many available for free,) message boards to converse with fellow crafters, yarn information, and ways to share your projects and see those that others have made (and maybe learn from their experiences with a certain pattern or yarn!)

During the workshop, we will learn how to search for patterns, how to save the patterns, how to view other user’s projects, and a few other nice features of Ravelry. This is a beginner’s introduction, but those who have been using Ravelry already may still benefit.

iPads and a temporary log-in will be provided. At the end of the lesson, staff will be on hand to help you set up your own account if you wish. To sign up for Ravelry on the spot, you will need an active email account and the password for it (you will need to sign in to your email to complete the process.

Registration is required and space is limited, so you can register here or by visiting or calling the Reference Desk at 401-596-2877 ext 306. You can also email Colleen at cwalsh@westerlylibrary.org with any questions or to register.Ravelry Workshop

Knit One, Purl Two, Click Here

This past Tuesday, we did a soft rollout of Studio Rhode Westerly at our Knit and Crochet Club by bringing three iPads to our usual meeting. As soon as I arrived with the iPads, I noticed one member was drawing out a concept that she was trying to explain (it was how to knit two mittens at a time on circular needles.) Though she drew a great diagram, she was able to use the iPad to look up the technique as well. Soon all three iPads were in use with the members looking up things that they were explaining to others. Another member and I explained Ravelry to a new user and got her very interested in our upcoming Ravelry workshop (scheduled for September 6th.)

Our group has always been great about collaborating, teaching, and answering questions for one another, but having access to iPads will help them to help each other even more. There are many great possibilities for them as they have large screens and cases that function as stands, so we can display patterns and instructions on them. The iPads proved to be a useful tool for yarn crafts, so they will be a welcome addition to our future meetings.

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2017

On June 10th, we hosted our very first Knit in Wilcox Park as part of World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIPD.) WWKIPD was started as a way to make a solitary activity into a social one – something our Knit and Crochet Group has already embraced as they gather every Tuesday evening to craft together. We found that Knit in Wilcox Park did exactly as intended – there were about 19 knitters and crocheters throughout the day with discussions ranging from patterns and techniques to etiquette when knitting in public or at work.

We saw a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new ones – it was a great turn out and a great event! Wilcox Park offers a wonderful space to knit or crochet outside (even though we had a couple of caterpillars join our little party.)

Fiber Arts 101

 

We will incorporate iPads into our Knitting and Crochet Club which meets every Tuesday night in our Reference Departmnet.  We will make the iPads available to our club members during the meetings so that they can look on Ravelry, watch techniques on YouTube, post photos of their projects, make their own YouTube tutorials and more! We will also create a dedicated blog to share what the group is working on, publicize upcoming events, and document projects.

If the club wishes to, we can build programs off of things we learn and discuss in the meetings, like workshops on:

-Etsy basics

-photographing crafts/handmade items for blogs or for sale

-using Ravelry

-running a craft blog/online portfolio

In September, be on the lookout for these workshops to start.