Catching our breath…

October 8th, 2007

Won’t it be nice when everyone has been invited and Ravelry is open to the public? Once that happens, I can use this space to write about new and exciting things that we are doing with the site. If you are in Ravelry and you don’t use the forums, be sure to check out the For the Love of Ravelry board at least once in a while. (What? You weren’t looking in there? Did you know about the radar? How about browsing FOs by color? Did you see the coffee mugs and steins of beer and wonder where they were coming from?)

To answer a frequently asked question – Yes! Once Ravelry is open, everyone will be able to browse the site. You will not need an account unless you’d like to have your own notebook (for projects, stash, etc), post in the forums, add comments to projects, that sort of thing. Accounts will be *free* and we hope that most of you will want to participate instead of just lurking.

The usual list of numbers:

We are still churning out the invites and it’s getting a bit crazy over here. The emails, forum posts, and chat messages are raining down on us but we are surviving. [ I really wanted to say something that included “blot out the sun” because Jess is in love with 300, but I couldn’t make it fit. ]

Anyway… We’ve sent out 4650 invitations since last Monday, October 1st. Waiting list sign ups are not slowing down *at all* but the invite rate is faster than the sign up rate, so there is no reason for the newly-enlisted to despair. We are up to nearly 21,000 users and at one point today we saw 643 people using Ravelry during the same 5 minute window. As far as usage goes, we’ve served up 5.5 million page views since Oct 1st. I almost feel bad! You guys *are* finding time to knit, crochet, eat, and sleep, right?

Oh, and Jess and I will be at Rhinebeck in a couple weeks – we hope to see you there!

Hopefully we’ll take a few photos while we are at the festival so that we can post something other than a Bob picture. I hope that you all aren’t too tired of Bob yet, I just have to add a little something to liven up this post!

….invites are moving right along

September 28th, 2007

Things are going well! We’ve sent out 2225 invites since Monday and I’m going to try to speed them up a wee bit more. People must have noticed that we’re adding people faster because the waiting list has been busy lately. How many of you are out there anyway??!? At the moment, we have 15,600 users and 17,797 people on the waiting list. Wow.

Jess and I would like to say a big Thank You to the folks that have been answering questions in the forums and helping newbies in the Help! chat (go Helpers!). I don’t think that we would have been able to accelerate the invites if it wasn’t for you all. Waiting list people – there will be a link to the Help! chat in your invitation in case you have trouble getting started.

We’d also like to thank all of the volunteer editors – the pattern and yarn databases are looking really good (SO MUCH better than they were at the beginning of the summer). You guys have managed to do a great job even though I keep changing things on you ;) And we can’t forget all of the users! Thank you for entering your projects, owning up to your stash, starting and joining groups, participating in discussions… Ravelry is a fun and useful place because of you!

Oh – and I just remembered that I never posted the hardware pr0n for the geeks out there.
We’ve got two big (dual quad core Xeons) from Silicon Mechanics
that are virtualized into a bunch of hosts (all running Gentoo Linux, of course!)
with Xen. Sometime I have to post a writeup of how I built this thing – it has been a really fun and challenging project so far!

Ravelers helped choose the hostnames – we’ve got names like swift, felt, thrum, gusset :)

Speeding up the invites

September 18th, 2007

We are now inviting 500-600 users a day! We’re now plowing through the clump of people that signed up after the Yarn Harlot posted about us in (eek) July. Thanks to all of the Ravelry users who have been helping newbies in the forums and the help chat – we wouldn’t be able to speed up the invites without your help.

Also, Jess and I did an podcast interview with Jenny and Nicole from Stash and Burn. I should warn you that it’s long – boy can we talk!
Here it is: Stash and Burn Episode 30: Ravel Rock.
Oh, and if podcasts aren’t your thing, you may still want to click over to see a new pic of Bob.


September 16th, 2007

Guess what?

It is Casey’s birthday today and it’s a doozy- 3-0!



September 11th, 2007

So Casey was up until the wee hours (after 4am) getting the site moved over to our new servers… but he must have had tired eyes because the login is broken for new members!

So sorry about that guys!

He came back to bed about a half hour ago so I am letting him sleep for a little bit before I wake him up to fix it.

Hang in there! He will take a look at it as soon as he is up.

More updates soon…

Casey’s update: okay, things should be all fixed now. I am sending out copies of the invites that went out this morning so that people know that they can try again.

September already?

September 4th, 2007

A really quick update….

The servers came last week. If all goes well, I’ll be able to set up and install them this week and some of our current users can test things over the weekend. Once that is done, we’ll be able to send out invites faster. We won’t quadruple the invitations (as promised) until we take care of a few things – there are several *very* frequent questions and problems that new users run into and we have to tweak the site a bit so that we don’t drown in thousands of messages and forum posts.

Also, Jess and I were away for the weekend which means that we are now buried in email. If you wrote us with a question or problem, it might take us a little while to get back to you.

Finally, many people have discovered us recently and I just wanted to remind everyone that Ravelry is still just Jess and I (and Bob too, but he is only really good for comic relief). We know that many of you have been waiting a long time and we want Ravelry to be open as soon as possible. We are up to nearly 10,000 users and 19,000+ people waiting for invites!

A big ol’ video preview

August 27th, 2007

Still wondering exactly what Ravelry is and how you could possibly make use of it? Just want to see some more screens while you wait? LittleWit Erin put together a really cool video that shows off lots of Ravelry’s features.

Enjoy! (click the image below to play)

Click to play

Are we there yet?

August 19th, 2007

It’s been nearly 4 months since Jess told the world about Ravelry on May 2nd. Boy are we tired!

Those of you who are still waiting have been very patient and Jess and I really appreciate it. There are 8300 Ravelers now and I know that it can be kind of difficult when people blog about a project, pattern, yarn, or discussion that they saw on Ravelry and you can’t get in and take a look.

Many people have asked about our launch date – when will we be open to the public? I can’t give you an exact day right now but I can tell you what our current plans are. It’s going to go like this:

  • Our servers are shipping on Monday and our network hardware is already starting to arrive. The datacenter is going to start billing us in about 10 days (ready or not) so I’m going to get our stuff set up and installed as soon as possible.
  • Once we are in our new home, some beta people are going to help test before we flip the switch and move Ravelry over to our grown-up servers. Testing will probably take 2 days or so.
  • Next, we’ll crank up the invites. I’m hoping to send 5,000 invites during the first week in our new place.
  • Jess and I and the volunteer editors will need to adapt and tweak things as people start flooding in. We’re still trying to perfect our techniques for dealing with email and other feedback. The volunteer editors and I are still working on improvements to the parts of the site that deal with user contributions.
  • Everything will go according to plan and we’ll add another 5,000 the following week ;)

oh that reminds me – for those of you that voted on names for our servers: the “Fiber Arts Terms that Make Pretty Good Names” (Hank, Steek, Tink, Frog, Swift, Hook) are currently winning :)

I’ve got some screenshots in the hopper and I’ll try to post them soon. For now, I’ll leave you some Bob pictures.

First, the official Bob Intervention. Sometimes online discussions can get heated (I know! It’s hard to believe! haha) and talks that that involve Harry Potter, doubly so. Bob, the official Ravelry mascot, swoops in and makes an appearance when necessary.

Also, I’ve retired the lolbob that used to appear during the nightly site updates. Too many people were frightened by the 1 AM Eastern time appearance of a crazy snaggletoothed dog.

(Don’t worry – Bob isn’t plastered all over Ravelry!)

Quick August Update

August 7th, 2007

A quick update for you guys – here is what is going on over in Ravelry-land.

We are up to 7,162 users and 85,001 projects and there are 15,432 people on the waiting list. To repeat what I said in a previous post, we can’t really speed up the invites until we move from our beta environment to our real servers. This should happen during the next few weeks. It’s hard enough to add ~1200 people a week and I’m hoping to do a quick upgrade today so that we don’t have to slow down the invites. Oh, I’m also proud to report that *more than half* of our users have used Ravelry within the last 24 hours – that’s pretty cool. We must be doing something right :)

Jess and I are working day and night to get the site up and open – don’t think that we’re just sitting here having coffee with the people who have been invited and making you guys wait! Ravelry has become an amazing community and a truly useful resource and we wish that we were ready for all of you today.

At the moment I’m focusing on fixing bugs and setting up some special features for advertisers (Advertisers – don’t contact us quite yet!). I think that I said I was working on these things last week, but this time I mean it! It’s just so hard to stop making improvements to the site.

A few people asked for more screenshots…. Here is one – hopefully it will tide you over until next time. This is the front of the new “pattern source” page – every book, magazine, pamphlet, and website has a page like this. From here you can find related groups, browse designer pages, search and browse user projects, view all of the patterns that are inside the book (or magazine, site, etc) and participate in forum threads that are related to the patterns. Each pattern has it’s own detailed page – I think that there are pictures of that in the old screenshot tour.

The Ravelry Army!

July 27th, 2007

Dear Ravelers, We love you guys! — Casey and Jess

Jess and I owe A LOT to our wonderful users. I don’t know how we’d do this without them. Most people don’t know about the huge role that our users play in creating Ravelry and I thought that I would take this opportunity to explain.

First of all – the donations. We are so grateful for all of the donations! We see each one as it comes in and we really appreciate each person’s contribution. Without your donations, we would have a much much harder time getting this thing off of the ground. We started Ravelry on our living room couch with absolutely no funding and we are so lucky that you guys are helping to make this happen. Thank you!

Now here is something that many people don’t know – nearly 400 Ravelers have donated their time and volunteered to adopt and edit a section of our pattern and yarn database. Ravelry’s giant pattern and yarn index (10,000 yarns, 13,000 patterns) is built with the contributions from each and every user. New patterns and yarns come in every day from people’s projects, stashes, and queues and our editors make sure that the pages are correct, complete, and useful. Without their hard work and dedication, our database would be inconsistent, disorganized, and just not that pretty. People have been going above and beyond the call of duty – digging in libraries, calling up contacts, and going all Indiana Jones on the hunt for yarn and pattern data. Jess and I are so amazed and so thankful for all the hard work that our volunteer editors have been putting in. Also, a HUGE thank you to the sooper editors who wield the special powers that are too dangerous to hand out to hundreds of users. You’ve been doing a great job helping volunteers with their requests, answering questions, moving mountains, and cleaning up spills ;)

Ravelry users can expect to hear from the editors from time to time. Often, you’ll receive a message asking if it’s okay for us to use your photo as the featured photo for a yarn or pattern. Also, you might receive a note with questions about a yarn or pattern that you’ve added. (Especially if you are a person who uses super rare yarns and out of print patterns!) If you decide that you too would like to volunteer, please stop by the Editors’ Group and say hello. We’d love to have you!

We also have volunteer bug/idea trackers who add bugs and suggestions that come up in the forums into our issue tracking system. This really helps me stay sane and it is much appreciated. I don’t have to stress out about forgetting about somebody’s bug or awesome idea and users know that they are being heard (even if I don’t have a chance to reply, which I usually do). It’s also cool because we now provide The List of bugs and ideas on the site. Thanks, trackers! And thanks to all of the beta testers who have shared some great ideas with us (and bug reports too!)

I also want to say a big thank you to the folks over in the new Help! Group. Starting that group was a great idea, guys! – I think that new users really appreciate that there is a friendly place where there is no such thing as a stupid question. I’m also learning a lot from the questions that people are asking and it gives me ideas for improving the site. Thanks!

And of course we have to thank ALL of our users for helping us grow. Using Ravelry means improving Ravelry – without you, we wouldn’t have anything. The projects, patterns, yarns, groups, forum posts, wiki pages – everything exists because of you guys. We’re so glad that you are enjoying our site and spending some time with us.

Our lovely volunteer editors:

oh duh – I should probably post a status/waiting list update. Has everyone seen the list checker at Good. We’re inviting about 1200 people a week right now. I’m trying to speed things invites up, but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to go much faster until we move out of our baby beta environment and into our Grown Up datacenter with our real servers. You guys have been very patient – I can’t believe that it’s been almost 3 months since we started the beta! We’ve still got a ton to do before we open to the public, but as we add capacity we’ll crank up the invites. I’ll post more information as it comes!