Rainbow Valley Crochet released her first crochet-a-long on 16th January 2017, after a couple of month’s of excitement and pre-sales reaching over 400 crochet enthusiasts world wide. The Secret Garden blanket began last summer with just a conversation (all the best idea’s start this way) among friends and soon developed into the creation of garden blocks with as little sewing as possible. The excitement began when Helen shared the image below in a very large online crochet group, having no idea how much interest it would bring.
Helen quickly set about getting a test team together so that the idea could develop further and with as few teething problems as possible. I joined the team with Heather and Lesley, and later on Moira. All of us testing the block patterns to ensure that they were correct and pin-pointing any potential problem area’s. This gave Helen the opportunity to create photo tutorials for each block.
During this time, interest continued to grow and we saw an increase of visitors to the Rainbow Valley Crochet Facebook page. Helen then decided to do a pre-release pattern sales and with the option of purchasing yarn packs via her website in order to gauge the level of interest.
On release day, Helen emailed more than 400 participants directing them toward the support group. WOW! None of us were expecting such a huge number. I couldn’t believe it, but I have been telling Helen for a long time that she is a yarn artist and very talented indeed. But you can be the judge of that.
7 days into the CAL I am sat pondering the past week. With many people already well into the first block and some on to additional ones in new colourways, and trying to piece together the adrenaline rush of release day. I cannot begin to explain the buzz of excitement from crochet enthusiasts around the world as they started to join the support group wanting to get to know people before the mini butterfly block became available. Moira found an online map service for us to “pin” our locations on.
It didn’t take long for participants to start getting into their yarn supplies (or the packs purchased from Rainbow Valley) and get their hooks moving. There haven’t been any problems as such, however, with the invention of the internet and how easy it is to follow spoken directions on YouTube, we have discovered a lack in knowledge. It quickly became evident that there are some participants who have not yet learned pattern reading as they have only ever used YouTube to learn to crochet. I now see that there is a gap in the market here, I knew people had begun to learn via YouTube, but I just assumed that they were learning to read patterns too. This is not so, and by Wednesday I was doing the best that I could with a mobile phone and Facebook live to help people with getting their blocks started.
The video’s are only available in the support group for those who have purchased the pattern. The live video’s enabled participants to get started (I hope they followed the pattern whilst watching, as I would love for everyone to be reading patterns by the end of the CAL). This then posed my next challenge at least. How to use video so that the viewers see what I see when crocheting. My teenage daughter came to the rescue by loaning me a “phone arm” that she uses while watching YouTube in bed 😀
The third video was quickly recorded (not professionally edited as I am not that tech savvy) with little problems at all. I then had the challenge of attempting to upload a 17 minute tutorial to Facebook with a very slow router/upload speed. 24 hours later and the group participants were able to follow how to join the butterfly and background without the need of using a needle and thread.
Throughout the week we have answered thousands of questions, watched the map pin’s multiply and the group grow. Helen told me this morning that we have reached 450 participants now, with over 300 in the Facebook support group and many more on Ravelry. I have also been following the hashtag we are using, #secretgardencal, over on Instagram as I was intrigued to see if there were people sharing there too. This is what I found;