This week’s episode is a little later than normal due to the ongoing issues with Ravelry, which has meant I wasn’t able to release the content I had planned for this show. As yet, it’s not safe for some of my listeners over at Ravelry, so I’m not linking in any further posts on this site until it is. I’ve been hanging on a little bit hoping for the sensible caption to turn on, but it doesn’t appear to be happening.

So get your brew, get your knitting, and we will crack on with the show.

Ravelry and Accessibility Problems

Today we’re going to talk about a couple of things. My plan content for today, isn’t suitable for this episode currently because of a few things that are going on with Ravelry and accessibility issues.

I know there’s a lot of stuff out there on social media and some websites at this point. I just want you to hear what I think and plan to do about it from me. I’m not going to put it on Instagram because I just don’t think that’s a very good place to put your thoughts on this. Conversations are hard to follow there. Links even more so. Hence my discussing it on the podcast, which is my primary method of communication.

I’m going to talk a little bit about resin making resin jewellery, because the content that I did have planned for today had a lot of links back to Ravelry. Currently, I don’t think it would be responsible for me to be directing you to that website, given what’s going on and the very valid concerns that have been raised.

If you’re not aware of the current situation with Ravelry, I did mention last week that I wasn’t keen on the new Ravelry interface that I found it quite hard work to look at it.

How Accessible is it?

I wondered aloud how accessible it is in that format. The reason that I brought that up or thought about it is we’ve got pretty much sure that Sammy is dyslexic. I’ve been looking into all of the different ways that can make reading easier for him. He finds reading on a screen much easier than reading a book. Black-on-white text is difficult for him.

It was very much top of my mind when I was looking, thinking, “Oh, Sammy, (not that he’s a knitter or anything) would really struggle with this site.” The fact that I found it difficult to look at probably should have sounded some alarm bells in my mind.

During the current course of the past week, it’s become apparent that the site redesign that Ravelry have implemented has caused a lot of problems for people. Users have reportedly had migraines, visual disturbances and six people have had seizures because of this change to the interface, graphics and animations.

Obviously, this brings up some concerns and issues for me. I need to be mindful that I have a responsibility as a podcaster for my audience. And I take that really seriously.

Hopefully you will feel that through the podcast when I speak to you, but also if you hear me speaking on anyone else’s podcast, you will know that I take my listeners really seriously. And I do consider you all to be friends. I’m very loyal friend, and I want to look after everyone.

So it would have been inappropriate for me to continue with the content that I had planned for today’s episode. If it contains links back to a site that has some safety concerns for some of my listeners, I can’t in all honesty, say it’s a good idea to link back to any of that content at the moment as it stands.

Computer screen with writing saying 'Designers Should Always Keep Their Users in Mind' Shinybees podcast episode 150

Still Grateful For Ravelry

This isn’t a let’s all go and beat up on Ravelry thing. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Ravelry has been a massive player in the knitting community. A huge part of my knitting, of my podcast, of the friends that I’ve made, of the amazing designers and dyers I’ve discovered and the fun knitting patterns has been thanks to Ravelry.

So much of my work links back to Ravelry, because so much of what I’ve done in my knitting over the past 10 years has been heavily influenced by it. I’ve interviewed lots of designers, dyers and shop owners in the community. The number one resource they always say has been the best thing for them and their business has been Ravelry.

It has been a massive part of everyone’s knitting journey. I’m super grateful for the opportunities to learn, to connect, to support small businesses, to get my podcast out into the world, to the right people. To enjoy the resource that it offers in terms of information and patterns.

I fundamentally believe that this redesign was done from a really positive and good place. I don’t believe people just want to be horrible and exclude people on purpose. I don’t want to believe that to be the case. However, evidence at the moment from Ravelry’s response (or lack of) suggests otherwise.

There are people who have been part of the community who feel excluded. For an organization that wants to be inclusive, and that’s a big central tenant of their brand, it’s not ideal to be appearing to ignore what people have brought to them in terms of concerns.

Why No Re-evaluation?

I don’t understand why there hasn’t been a stop, stop, stop caption, and everything just moved back to how it was and a re-evaluation.

There is a lot going on at the moment. I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt and with COVID still happening and all of the crazy that goes along with that, political turmoil, economic issues; there’s much to process.

It’s difficult in a small team to take in the amount of input that has been sent their way on this. I’m not excusing them from handling the matter when I say this. Putting myself into someone else’s mindset: there’s tags all over Ravelry, there’s emails, there’s all of the threads, (which I know are being locked) and tags all over social. It’s a lot of information to keep up with and absorb.

If you’ve been working on something for a long time, and it turns out that it’s a complete disaster, and now everyone’s really upset with you about it, it’s not outwith the realms of possibility that they’ve just shut down because they can’t take any more input on this.

It’s great that everyone has rallied around the people who feel excluded. The people who don’t feel supported, need to feel that they’re being heard.

I think the issue is a communication issue from Ravelry’s point of view. They’ve not communicated that they wanted to change things. They are not listening – or appearing to listen – to the communication that is coming their way. For an organization that very much feels like a massive part of your life – and a friend – is hurtful to people.

I’m now worried that I’m going to hurt my listeners because I’ve got hundreds of links to Ravelry on my website.

But if I remove those links, I also remove traffic that leads to pattern sales for lots of designers and dyers, that puts food on their table, because that’s the only place they’re selling their patterns.

That is a whole different conversation in itself. There’s not one of my clients that I haven’t implored to have an ecomm capability on their own website, away from Ravelry and anywhere else where it’s a single point of failure. One must have another way for people to pay you for your art, that you own for these reasons. So you have control over things.

People don’t always have that capability. People maybe don’t have the skills, or the money to do that, or the capacity to do that. And so they rely on Ravelry as a gateway to take payment for their work. So if I stop sending traffic that way, I’m also stopping them making money as well. It’s a really difficult situation, because I don’t want to prioritize anyone over anyone else, and indeed some of those designers and dyers are also affected by migraines caused by the site as well.

And the simple solution is for Ravelry to just sort out the interface and the visuals so that people can access it. There’s a very simple solution. Just fix it. But there appears to be a reluctance to do that. Whether it is reluctance because they’re just don’t buy into the need or whether it’s reluctance because they’re totally overwhelmed with the level of communication and input, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to them personally, so I’m not going to pass judgment until I hear directly why they are not appearing to listen, but I implore them to do that.

People are trying to help

People are genuinely want to help. They want to support Ravelry. They want to carry on loving Ravelry. But if we are going to be truly inclusive, that cannot only extend to able people. And I don’t really want to be a part of a platform where that is the case when it’s been brought to your attention.

I’m not going to continue putting links to Ravelry at this stage, until it is made safe for people that have neurological issues or any kind of issue that means using it could potentially cause them to be or feel unwell, have seizures or anything else.

That is my approach for now. If it continues to be a really big issue for users on the site and things aren’t resolved, then I will review that, weekly, until I’m happy that something’s been done that is adequate, or I make the unfortunate decision to remove links. Hopefully by then, there will be some alternative ways to send traffic to those people that would be affected by the loss of links.

Potential Aid/Fix

One of the other things I do have to direct you towards though, if you are having trouble with the interface, is a theme by @evanitaewm on Instagram, that alleviates some of the issues. Please be careful if you may be affected by logging in.

Resin Jewellery

Something else that I have tried over locked down in terms of crafts is making resin jewellery. I know a lot of people have struggled with their knitting mojo. We’ve talked about that quite a bit during the past few episodes.

I saw a listener – Jacqui – had tried making resin jewellery on Instagram and I thought The Beast would love to try it too. She is turbo crafty: Little Miss What Can I Make? So I decided to go and get a box and we could try it together.

I wasn’t asked to review this kit, I bought it myself from a company called Resin8.

It’s a British company. If you’re overseas, there will be other companies that do things similar to this. I believe that Resin8 do ship internationally as well.

We tried the Dazzling Duo kit, which has enough for two people as it has two sets of everything. You could do these projects together. It was all themed with a lovely pale blue, white, and dark blue colour scheme. It came with a load of instructions of how to make everything on a leaflet. It was super easy to follow. They do videos as well but I didn’t need them. The instructions were really great,

It cost £30 delivered. I got some kind of discount on it as it was an offer at the time.

I really liked it actually, because it had everything in there that you would need. Sometimes when you get a kit, there’ll be like the main items, but then you need to go and find extra things that you don’t have lying around.

You have two different sets of chemicals that you mix together that makes the resin, and then you can add colours or different sparkles or whatever you like to it. It came with a couple of colours of mica powder which makes it turn into almost a pearlescent nail polish look.

Then you use lolly sticks and a cocktail sticks to add those to the findings. They’re already cast silver bits of jewellery that you then fill with the resin, and add all the bits of glitter or glittery metal chips to make your patterns.

It was super relaxing. I really enjoyed the process of it. There was some guidance on how to create certain effects with the different bits of resin. But it was quite nice just to play around with it and see how that affected things and see how you could make different patterns.

I think it would be one of those activities that would be great for things like a hen party or maybe a teenager’s birthday party, because it’s got all of this stuff in there. In terms of an activity, it probably took us a couple of hours. There was a full set of equipment for two people in that box at 15 pounds each, which I think is really affordable for an activity.

You need to supervise children very carefully, because these are chemicals and obviously they can be dangerous. The box does come with a set of gloves, but you’re going to need aprons and safety goggles as well.

We made a pendant for a necklace, a pair of earrings and a bracelet each as well. The bracelet that was made up of seven or eight different circles that are all attached together.
All of the extra components needed to make the jewellery were in the box, so you get quite a good amount of value out of it. There’s the time spent designing and pouring the resin, but then there’s the time spent building the jewellery as well. Sort of a double whammy really.

We used 10 ml out of each bottle. Each bottle had 50 ml in, so I’ve still got four lots of resin left to make another four lots of jewellery and the Mica powders.

All I need is more jewellery findings and I can use the rest of the stuff to make more resin pieces. So if you’ve not tried resin making, I would definitely give it a go.

Resin8 website.

Credits

I’ll be back again with you next week, but until then have a wonderful week happy crafting and I will speak to you all again soon. Cheers.

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