I’m All About Making Things (are you?)
Do you love trying out new platforms and juggling technology learning curves while you’re trying to do your favorite hobby? No?
Good. Me neither.
When I first heard about Making Things – the new cloud-based knitting app from the maker of Wool Days – I was skeptical. I dismissed it without much more than a cursory glance, because:
a) I don’t like change
b) I’m not an early adopter (of anything)
c) I don’t have time for learning curves
Who has time for a new thing? Not this girl. I’m self-employed and I work 80+ hours a week. I need stuff that works and doesn’t slow me down.
In spite of my stubborn resistance to new things, there was something intriguing about the promise of this new platform. As a designer (and a knitter), I’ve been frustrated with what’s currently available and have long dreamed of something that would solve my pain points, while being easy to navigate and lovely on the eyes.
Why can’t someone just invent a better way to do this?
Good news: someone did.
If you’re a little bit hesitant about trying new things, take my hand and come sit with me. I’ve spent the last couple of months getting to know Making Things, both the platform and the people behind it, and I want to tell you why I’ve fallen in love with this insightful, brilliant new technology.
What is Making Things?
Making Things is a cloud-based platform for fiber artists. It’s for knitters and crocheters (and eventually for other fiber artists, too) as a place to access beautiful, curated patterns with stitch tutorial videos embedded right in the pattern (for all my knittahs who can’t remember how to M1R and M1L – you are going to LOVE this feature!). The patterns also have chat support features, graphs and charts that can expand for better viewing, and so much more. The interface is customized so that each knitter or crocheter has a unique, personal experience when they’re on the site – it’s designed to inspire you every time you log in. It’s a new way to make things – pairing the best of our beloved fiber traditions with the slickest and most beautifully integrated technology currently available. There’s zero learning curve because the platform is incredibly intuitive, and it was designed specifically for makers like us: newbies, experts, designers, hobby knitters, lifelong crocheters, you name it. If you love to knit or crochet, there’s a place for you at Making Things. They’ve implemented feedback from a wide range of users and designers to create a truly intuitive experience for creative people. Just wait until you try the sticky highlighter.
But we already have Ravelry (and other online sources)
Ravelry has been a great resource for knitters over the last decade or so and I’m grateful they’ve been there to usher the fiber industry into the digital era. But as my business and my knitting habits have changed over the years, I’ve found myself needing a resource that does more. I’ll talk more about this when I speak directly to the designers among us (designer friends, read below!), but far too much of my work each week is spent helping people overcome obstacles directly related to hiccups or limitations with other platforms. I’ve been looking for technology that works better for my customers and makes my life easier, too. Making Things read my mind.
Okay, so how does it work?
Basically, Making Things is like Netflix for your knitting. It’s subscription based (less than the cost of two sweater patterns a month), and you have access to everything in their database. Yep, you read that right. ALL THE PATTERNS. But more than that, you also have access to their slick user tools that help you knit more efficiently by giving you everything you need right there while you’re working. Instead of having to hop over to Google to remind yourself how to work a stitch, or try to find contact information for a designer to ask a question, the resources you need are right there in front of you. Just start knitting, and use the tools when you need them. (Remember that sticky highlighter I mentioned? Yeah, you’re going to love it.)
The other thing I love about Making Things is that you don’t have to sort through a mass of patterns to find what you like. You can rest assured that the patterns in their database are high quality, tested and professionally tech edited. These aren’t wonky freebies; they’re many of your favorite patterns from your favorite designers. Better still, by marking and interacting with the patterns that interest you, Making Things will be able to show you more of what you like. Love seamless sweaters? (You know I do!) Making Things will show you all the lovely seamless designs that your little heart can handle, including patterns from designers you haven’t discovered yet. And the search function makes it easy to find all the glorious new things you never knew you needed.
Have I mentioned it’s lovely?
You guys, Making Things is just flat-out pretty. It’s clean, inspiring and so easy on the eyes – it makes me want to knit all the things.
It’s made by fiber artists FOR fiber artists, and that’s important. In fact, I’m convinced that the reason this new platform is SO good, is because it was designed by fiber people. They know what we love and what would make our creative experience better, and that’s what Making Things is really about.
Here’s the catch (but not really)
You’re not going to print patterns anymore. Or – maybe I should say, you’ll never have to print a pattern again. Before you panic, hear me out. No more tracking-down where you downloaded a pattern file, or having to email the designer to say “Help! I never got my download!” The patterns in Making Things are in a cloud, where you can access them from device to device (seamlessly) and all of your highlights and pattern notes will still be there. I know that some of us are attached to being able to print patterns, but think of it this way: once upon a time we thought Blockbuster was the best thing since sliced bread. When Netflix came along and eventually introduced us to digital streaming, the idea of renting (or even buying) a hard copy of a movie became unnecessary. We don’t think twice anymore about renting or buying content that we only ever stream through online platforms (think Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc…). The same can be true for our knitting patterns. You can even access your projects when you’re not on wifi.
I think the paper vs. digital transition will be the biggest worry for knitters who are on the fence about signing up – will you like knitting without a print pattern? Here’s what I recommend: Give it a try and really check it out. Try out the tools. Look through the amazing database of patterns. I know it’s scary to try a new thing and give up the comfort of a print pattern, but if you’re willing to give it a go, I think you’ll discover that this new way of doing things is so pretty darn fantastic.
It boils down to this
Making Things will help me give you (the knitters who use my patterns) the knitting experience I have always wanted you to have, but couldn’t create on my own. For years I’ve been dreaming of integrating stitch tutorials into every pattern, but it required a level of time and technology that just isn’t feasible for an indie designer. Better yet, they’ve dreamed-up extra features I never even thought of, and when I look at just how beautiful and user-friendly their platform is, I want that knitting experience for every single one of my knitting friends. Making Things makes my life easier by taking good care of my knitters, which makes me feel good about making them an integral part of my business.
Why Designers Are Getting on Board
As a designer, I have a unique set of needs when it comes to what’s available in a knitting (or crochet) platform. Making Things is designed by people who are listening to what we need and incorporating those solutions into the product. For example:
- Being able to upload patterns faster and more efficiently means getting patterns to YOU more easily.
- An intuitive platform means more seamless-sweater-lovers will see my patterns, without me having to jump through extra hoops, cross my fingers, and wish upon a star that we’ll find each other.
- Technique and stitch tutorials within the patterns give my customers a better knitting experience.*
- Chat box support on the site means my customers can ask for help right there where they are, which saves them time from having to look for support elsewhere.*
- *Both of these features cut down on admin time (and costs), and allow me to spend my work week designing patterns instead of providing basic knitting support.
- Making Things has created a way that customers can save money while they access an unlimited number of lovely patterns (with all the added features), and designers can earn a consistent, stable income based on how often their patterns are accessed. It’s a different way to do business, and it supports the whole industry – not just one side or the other. (Yarn makers/dyers and yarn shops will eventually have their place in this beautiful online space, as well!)
Update: The team at Making Things just shared a lovely blog post about who they are, what they do and how they came to be. They also share in detail how the revenue share works for paying designers fairly. It’s a great read and you can find it here.
Let me end on this note
It takes a lot to impress me, and I tend to be super skeptical when it comes to anything that might affect my business. But I’ve had the opportunity to get to know (and love) the amazing people behind Making Things and I can tell you that I know they’re onto something here. Their hearts are in the right place, their vision is for everyone to succeed together, and their dream of supporting the fiber community resonates throughout their work. But more than just being lovely people – they’re also brilliant. This thing they’ve created is going to knock your socks off.
Friends, it’s just really THAT good. I can’t wait for you to try it.
(P.S. I was so impressed with beta testing for Making Things that I decided to jump on board! You can find many of my favorite patterns there, along with those from many other talented designers. I apologize for any confusion my post may have caused with regard to affiliation. When it was written, I was simply a beta tester and really loving the vision of the company and what they were trying to create, so I wanted to share my perspective. My links within the post were not affiliate links. However, as the platform launched and my patterns became available through their subscription model, it did shift the tone of my post to a promotion. I had not taken the time to go back to re-read what I had written before I updated the links, which did make a previously unaffiliated post now an affiliated one – I apologize that I did not take the time to consider and clarify that change. It was remedied as soon as it was brought to my attention. Making Things has slightly varied how referrals happen on the site, which means that you can rest assured that you can click links and look at any profile you’d like without worrying that they are being compensated without your knowledge. Designers only receive compensation if you specifically select the “Sign up and support this designer” button, and/or if you are a user of the site and specifically access a designer’s pattern.)