Crafty Websites/ Ravelry Knock-Offs?

 In some ways, the vortex of Ravelry takes away a lot of time on different craft websites. It’s a one-stop shop for most of what I need when it comes to knitting and crafty chat. So when people started to chat about a couple new craft websites that (to them) seemed a bit pastichey or Ravelry copycats, I checked them out. In the interests of journalism (and a long-time crush on Consumer’s Reports) I joined both websites.

 The two websites are busymitts and letsCRAFTit, respectively. I have tested different features on both websites, just to get a feel about both of them.

 Busymitts

 Busymitts is a website devoted to sharing all kinds of different crafts, knitting, papercraft, crochet, beading, etc. It seems sort’ve like a glorified Flickr group, in which photographs of finished crafts can be uploaded, looked at and commented on.  It’s newly minted in this year of 2008. You do have to put your email on a waiting list, but I received an invitation very quickly, in a day or less. It was designed by a man in the UK.

 The Good

  • It’s very easy to add a project. You pick a category, you name your project, boom.
  • You can upload a picture directly from your computer, rather than going to the trouble of loading a picture to Flickr or Photobucket first
  • It’s interesting to see different crafts on the front page, so you get exposure to different crafts
  • It’s simple to favorite or comment on a project
  • There’s a built-in blog feature, which I have tested. This is rolling-off-a-log easy. I really enjoyed this feature, and when I mentioned it in the thread on Ravelry, Casey did indicate that this would be added to Ravelry at some point. I would love to see something similar integrated into Ravelry, so rah for that.

The Bad

  • It’s fairly juvenile looking. The color scheme is cutesy and it’s just plain boring.
  • I hate to say this, but Busymitts is also a pretty lame name. I can see where the ‘cute’ factor could be played up for this website, but that hasn’t happened yet
  • The categories are limited to beading, papercraft, crochet, knitting and stitching. Spinning is not included and if this is a general craft website, there’s weaving and other crafts that should be included

 Conclusion: The simplicity of this website is what has made this site one that I will continue to use. The site design is lacking, and I would like to see more craft categories. However, I can see potential in the idea, and the ease of use means that adding projects is pretty painless.

letsCRAFTit

letsCRAFTit is a general craft website with many (and more specific) craft categories than busymitts, and in some ways, I find it more frustrating to use, and yet I can see some original thought in the website. It’s incredibly difficult to describe, so I’ll just share some details

The Good

  • has some interesting features that fall under “Share & Create.”

 You can ‘explain a craft’ step by step. You can also ‘write an article’ (which I tested; there seems to be no screening process for articles. It was a simple article on tips for spinning and it is currently the only article on the website. I can definitely see spammers targeting this.) You can also share an image of a completed craft, or create a group.

  • there’s a free ad-space that you can use for your blog or website.

 The rotation of the ads is determined by the ‘ad credits’ that you earn by linking to their website or writing an article, etc. Essentially, it’s an incentive for adding content to the website or linking to it. Since I wrote an article, I had 3 credits. I will earn more credits since I am linking to them in this blog post. What this means is that my ‘ad’ (a simple link to this blog) will show up more often in the adspace.

The Bad

  • It’s ugly. It doesn’t have even the kitschy charm of Busymitts. It looks underdeveloped, and the color scheme (purple and green) is not working for me, personally.
  • layout is un-user-friendly. I find myself constantly scrolling up and down the page to find my way around the site
  • this last might be unfair, but the site is very lacking in terms of content. Their userbase is obviously quite small, which isn’t as much of a fault as a fact of life for a new website. Busymitts shares this, but seems to have more active users.

Conclusion:  I like some of the ideas that letscraftit has, but it feels like a poor design and other factors are bogging it down from what it could be. I don’t feel like I would use this very much, although there are some original ideas for this website. It’s awkward to use and unattractive to look at.

I don’t see either of these websites as serious ‘competitors’ for Ravelry, simply because I think they are focusing on different aspects of crafting. I do think that more craft websites will generate more ideas, simply because there are different brains that put their original spin on things. I do see myself using Busymitts, I don’t see myself getting much into letsCRAFTit.

I would also love to see a built-in blog/notebook feature on Ravelry sometime soon. I’m interested to know your thoughts on the two websites, and if you would use either website, or none at all!

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August 14, 2008. Tags: , , . ravelry, Snark Editorial.

8 Comments

  1. turtlegirl76 replied:

    Awesome reviews. I’m too ingrained in Ravelry to have interest in trying another community, but can see how Busymitts would be one to check out should I absolutely have to share those stitchmarkers I made. 😉

  2. Linda B replied:

    I agree with your assessment of the sites. I just don’t know if I want to join another community just yet. Ravelry is so good, I’d think anything else would pale in comparison.

    Your link to letscraftit above the review doesn’t work. There’s a comma instead of a dot before “com”. Don’t you hate it when that happens 😉

  3. Aunt Kathy replied:

    I have to agree with Turtlegirl right now too. I am intrigued and almost went to check it out but was afraid I might have to join to see and I just can’t join anything else for at least the rest of this year.

    You did a great job describing them though, thank you.

  4. Merenwen replied:

    Ravelry actually has a ‘photos from your computer’ tab in the photos section of a project, but it’s still a work in progress. I can’t get it to work for me – my stupid, old, demonic browser says ‘operation aborted’.

  5. jinniver replied:

    I read the same post on Ravelry and checked out both sites, but didn’t get very far–for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. Busymitts didn’t look like it had much, and now that I know how limited the categories are, there’s really nothing there for me. Other than knitting, I quilt, sew and do cross stitch (although all three are currently suffering due to my current yarn fascination). Letscraftit had more promise, but the set up gave me a headache. WAY too busy and amateurish-looking for my taste. I like to be able to see at a glance where I want to go to get into things that interest me (which is one reason why I frequent the Knitter’s Review forum less and less). I know I’ve been spoiled by Ravelry (haven’t we all?) and not everybody can have a Code Monkey so awesome he gets written about in Vogue Knitting (taciturn? Really? I didn’t get that vibe…), but I spend too much time on the computer as it is, so I site that’s merely meh isn’t going to get any of my time.

  6. MyNetFaves : Web 2.0 Social Bookmarking replied:

    MyNetFaves : Public Faves Tagged Websites…

    Marked your site as websites at MyNetFaves!…

  7. gingerbread replied:

    I’m a bit scared to leave a comment, here goes. I am on Ravelry and do think it is a good site but for me it is so vast I probably don’t do it justice I know. There are thousands of knitters showing there projects(me included) how can we all notice one another, I feel lost sometimes. So I joined busymitts and even though you all say it looks simple its working for me, simply because the pace is a bit slower if that makes sense, my messages are noticed and I have had more feedback and comments on my projects. I also seem to be making more friends. I guess its which suits you best.
    Julie

  8. Kitty Ballistic replied:

    I seem to have gone off knitting recently, so haven’t spent much time on Ravelry. I saw an article on Busymitts in the Crafts magazine and had a quick look, but I will investigate it more fully after the holidays. I have recently joined Crafteroo, which has a nice mix of crafters, some chat about selling crafts online, and also a Flickr group. It’s a nice, cosy group, with some very talented crafters – worth a look!

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