It started with a few simple tweets, send within several minutes of each other. @vtknitboy: Omg. I am so sad. Very sad news. @knitpurlgurl Karrie Passed away this morning. I do not know any details yet. Then @CoggieTM: Very sad news. knitpurlgurl Karrie Passed away this morning. Her husband contacted a friend who in turn contacted me. We don’t know anything yet but as news (compressed from an entry on Plurk.com).
Soon, Lion Brand Yarn company, Vickie Howell, Red Heart Yarns, and the majority of the heavy hitters in the knitting industry had heard the news and began sharing their condolences. The comments were mostly the same, praying for her family, expressing shock and sadness, and wishing more information was available regarding the details surrounding the sudden passing of a knitting blogger and podcaster who was only 38 years old. Karrie Steinmetz, known on the internet as Knit Purl Gurl, had died.
Karrie was a blogger, sure, but she also reviewed products and had become an authority on opinion, reviewing such books at Nicky Epstein’s “Knitting in Circles” and Melissa Leapman’s “Cardigans and Closures.” She was the go-to voice on the internet for a second opinion (or first one) on books, software, and yarn, but she was also the voice of her own podcast series. It was her podcasts which made people feel as though they knew her as more than just another yarnie; her incredibly warm demeanor and humility gave her followers the feeling that they were just Skyping with a dear friend on the other side of the knitting table.
As the news of her passing spread, and her fans started to share their condolences as well, something amazing happened: people were coming together using the virtual, non-physically-present medium they had used to get to know Karrie in order to seek comfort from each other. It was not just Twitter, not just Karrie’s blog, but her group on Ravelry.com and her Facebook fan page also instantly became memorials. Several of her personal friends from the northeast were acting as a liaison between Karrie’s family and her fans, telling people they had spoken to her husband or sharing who was taking care of her two children while Karrie’s husband made arrangements.
People from all over the world, followers of her blog and podcast who felt kinship to Karrie, started to form a community of love and support. The owner of Hiwassee Creek Dyeworks, an Etsy shop located in the East Tennessee Valley, has set up a memorial fund for people to contribute by purchasing hand-dyed skeins of yarn in an approved colorway by Karrie herself, with 30% of the proceeds going to Karrie’s family early next year. Donations of hand-crocheted snowflakes are being made with one of her own patterns to the family, to replace ones which were lost in Karrie’s most recent move. Knit-a-longs, or KALs, are being done in Karrie’s honor and being followed all over the internet. Also, RAP, or Random Acts of Patterns, has taken Ravelry.com by storm as her followers were encouraged by her to spread the love by sending a pattern to someone from their Ravelry.com queue as a surprise.
When Princess Diana died in 1997, before Twitter and Facebook, the world was left in shock, and the buzz of, “What can we DO?” was fueled mostly by television and internet news pages such as Yahoo.com. Now, the answers are at our fingertips, and support is generated just by the touch of a buttonless screen. Lest we forget that Karrie was a wife and mother before a knitter and podcaster, her followers are rallying together to seek comfort in each other and communicate to her family that we are there for them as well, and that Karrie meant the world to us whether or not we had met her in person.
Click here to sign the official guest book for Karrie Steinmetz, and visit the Friends of KnitPurlGurl group on Ravelry.com for more information regarding her passing, and how you can help become part of the community and spread the word to others. Note: “KnitPurlGirl” is not associated with Karrie Steinmetz; please note the spelling of the screen name.
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