Last week I saw the announcement that Cris from Crochet with Cris had launched a new tool on her site called iYarny. This virtual chat room combines text chat with optional video chatting to serve as a great meeting space for crocheters and other fiber arts lovers.
Cris has started a weekly Thursday night scheduled meeting in the chat room for people who want to participate in a crochet/ knitting group but who for one reason or another may not attend a local group of their own. I know that I love the camaraderie and technical assistance of a crochet group but don’t always get a chance to make it to my local groups because of timing, distance, etc. so I think that this is a great idea. (Of course, you can also join if you do attend a local group and just want an extra group to go to online.) You can bring whatever you’re working on, show up on camera and connect with others in this virtual setting for an hour each Thursday night.
Although the scheduled meeting is on Thursdays from 9-10 pm EST (with perhaps more to come in the future), the chat room is open twenty four hours per day for crocheters and other fiber arts lovers to connect with others. You know how much I love seeing our online crochet community strengthened so I’m definitely in love with this new tool and can’t wait to see how it develops and grows. I’ll be online for tomorrow night’s meeting and I hope that you’ll be able to join us but in the meantime, here’s an interview with Cris to tell you even more about iYarny.
CROCHETBLOGGER: You mentioned that you have strongly benefitted from having your local yarn group. Can you tell us a little more about that experience and what the benefits are?
CRIS: I’ll be honest: I never really thought of the benefits of a yarn group until I was able to experience being part of a yarn group. The obvious benefit that I felt immediately was a sense of belonging. Not many of my coworkers in Information Technology really understand why I crochet and knit. It’s rather foreign to them. So being able to be around a group of men and women that had a similar interest in yarn and fiber arts really allowed me that avenue to talk about it and not feel like I was getting the blind look from all directions.
The second benefit would be assistance when doing something new. Everyone there has a different experience level and has attempted different aspects of the crafts. An example for me would be when I attempted to knit socks for the first time. When it came time to do a short-row heel, I was stumped. The pictures in the book I had were not working (who takes pictures of someone knitting a heel from 100 yards away, anyway?!) so I was at a loss. I took my stubby lil first attempt sock to yarn group. Diane was more than willing to slide her stuff down by me and walk me through it. As I worked through the row on my own, she worked on her item. Then when it came time for me to wrap and go onto the next row, she was right there with me, walking me through it.
I get great advice and pattern suggestions. I get to feel yarn others have spun or bought for a special project. Show-and-tell makes me feel like a kid again, and I’m ok with that!
The last benefit is friendship. Several of the people from my yarn group go out to lunch and do yarn crawls, and I’m always invited. Now, I totally look forward to meeting up with my group once a week and having a great time over coffee (well, hot chocolate for me) and yarn.
CROCHETBLOGGER: I’m so happy for you that you found this great experience. I can definitely relate from my own (albeit limited) with local yarn and craft groups. In one of my groups I was introduced to the basics of the drop spindle, learned about LYS that I hadn’t been to yet and met some wonderful people. I think it’s terrific that iYarny will be able to provide these benefits to people who can’t make it to local groups because of illness, lack of options in their area or whatever other reason.
What are your plans for leading the weekly iYarny meetings? Do you have specific topics of conversation in mind or is it just a “show up and see how it goes” type of thing?
CRIS: I really didn’t have a plan other than some of the random ideas in my head. I knew that if any of the ideas were going to come to fruition, that I’d have to have somewhere for it to take place. I think the first few meet-ups are pretty much going to be a “show up and see how it goes” situation. We will all be getting to know each other since this is a new adventure. These really aren’t meetings in the sense to lecture or go over a formal agenda. It is a meet-up so people with an interest in yarn and crafting have somewhere to go to talk about it freely and to have a good time.
We just had the first meet-up on December 29th and topics included character hats, what we enjoy crocheting the most, having pets in the house, crochet swaps, and specific questions on how to do certain things when crocheting. The first meet-up felt a lot like my first day at my yarn group – learning names, excitement in meeting new people, and enjoyment in sharing what we have done and what we like to do. I do have some future plans for iYarny with different types of meet-ups so that may adjust some of the scheduled times and the conversations that take place, but overall, I think it will always remain a fun, casual place to meet-up.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Sounds great. I know I’m looking forward to being a part of it! Can you explain a little bit more about how the chat tool works?
CRIS: The chat tool is relatively straightforward but to use it you have to be a (free) registered member at stickam.com. Once you are registered you can access the tool via stickam groups OR via the iYarny link on my blog. The two major features of the chat tool are watching video and text chat. Any individual in the chatter’s list that has a picture of a camera can be “docked” into the video chat slots. This really only becomes a handy option if there are more video chatters than video slots (which means more than eight video chatters if you’re using iYarny through the blog or ten if you’re using it on the stickam site).
You do not have to go on camera to chat though; the other option is text chat. Whether you are on camera or not, you can do text chatting. Obviously text chatting for those on camera and working away may be a little more cumbersome simply because their hands are full of yummy yarn. There are options available to the user in how they interact with other users in the chat room. If you click on the person’s name in the chatters’ list, a menu will appear with options like one-on-one chat, docking their video feed, and ignoring the user. It may seem a little awkward at first, but the module itself is relatively straightforward.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Yep, from the little bit that I’ve played around with it so far, it seems fairly intuitive and easy to understand once you start fiddling with it.
What are the different types of things that people can use iYarny for when chatting during non-scheduled times?
CRIS: Non-scheduled times can be used for whatever the individuals in the chat room choose. Obviously the PG rule still applies and if there are any issues I would expect someone to contact me or another moderator. However, on average people can choose to come in and chat about whatever they like. iYarny isn’t about restrictions in conversations. My local yarn group talks about everything and I’d expect when people in iYarny begin to get familiar with each other, the same random conversations will take place that I’m used to hearing at my local yarn group. I could foresee people meeting up with online friends, getting to know people they otherwise would never have met, and using the video chat to help with crochet problems. I’m also sure there are many other ways iYarny could be used that I just haven’t thought of yet.
CROCHETBLOGGER: What is the number one thing that you hope people get out of using this chat tool?
CRIS: Its hard to anticipate what people may or may not get out of using iYarny but I can definitely say I just hope people get to experience being part of a group of people that love the same things. As I said before, I never knew what I was missing until I experienced it first hand. I get excited on yarn group night. I really look forward to sitting around and laughing, sharing stories, talking about movies and books, looking at yarn, and looking at others’ finished objects. I have seen some comments on YouTube, my blog, and others’ blogs that some people would like to go to a yarn group and simply can’t. Some people genuinely cannot go to a local yarn group because of family obligations, time constraints, physical ailment, and a host of other reasons. Some people don’t live in areas that have local yarn groups available to them. With technology the way it is, there is no reason anyone who would like to be part of a yarn group shouldn’t experience it.
CROCHETBLOGGER: I truly do think this will be a great tool for those people in exactly the way that you’ve described. How often do you expect we can generally find you on iYarny?
Since iYarny is just getting started, I only have one scheduled time that I am guaranteed to be online. I am hoping to add more scheduled times in the near future. But that doesn’t mean I’m *only* going to be on iYarny at those times. I am going to try to be on most nights probably around 9pm EST, especially in the beginning. Obviously because its unscheduled I cannot say for sure, but I do want anyone coming in looking around to have someone to chat with or get a feel for the module. If I’m in there, feel free to ask any questions you might have. If I don’t respond, I’ve probably got something going work wise. Just give me a moment to check back. I really am looking forward to meeting all sorts of people from around the globe.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Thanks so much for letting us know more about iYarny and for making this great contribution to the online crochet community!
I really do encourage everyone to check out what Cris is doing with this group, to come to the Thursday night meetings if you can and to chat with Cris if you see her online. She’s friendly and personable and easy to get to know! For that matter, I’m hoping to spend more time on iYarny after some post-holiday travel plans are wrapped up mid-month and you’re always free to say hi to me there too!