I'm sure some of you have heard about the Ravellenic Games; it's the knitting & crochet olympics hosted over on Ravelry. Judging by the number of questions I've gotten here and seen online about it, though, a lot of people don't really understand what it is or how it works. In the spirit of the thing, then, here's my two-cent explanation of what the Games are and how they work.
Please note: this post assumes a basic knowledge of how to use Ravelry and all of this information is subject to change as the Games are currently undergoing a shift in moderation. I'll update this as things become clearer.
The basic premise is this: Pick a project, cast on during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, and be done by the end of the closing ceremonies. That sounds easy enough, right?
Here's the thing: it really is that simple. If you don't want to do anything more complicated than that, great! Tag your Ravelry project with "ravellenics2014" and you're done.
Of course, if you want to get more competitive or more complicated, there are plenty of options. An analogy for the Ravellenics:
You're a skier, let's say, and you're from Canada. You go to the Olympics as part of the Canadian team; you can't also compete for the USA. But you can compete in a cross-country event, a downhill speed race, and a fancy-tricks event. One person, one team, three events.
Now: you want to make a one-skein cabled hat, and you're from Michigan, USA. Your hat goes to the Ravellenics as part of Team Michigan, where it competes in the Hat Halfpipe and the Single Skein Speed Skate. One project, one team, two events.
Each team you join needs its own project to represent it: say you also want to make a pair of socks, but you don't really care if you finish: join Team Apathy! Socks compete in Sock Hockey, of course, but also in any other events that are relevant to your design or colors.
To join a team, click on the name of the team within this page and reply to the thread. Each team has a "team thread" where you reply with "I'd like to join!" Most of the time, you'll be added to the official team roster and will be earburned or messaged when team-related things are happening.
That said, projects don't have to compete for a team. You can be a free agent! Just tag your project with "ravellenics2014" and, if you want, the relevant events.
Congratulations, you're a Ravellenic Games athlete!
The history of the Ravellenic Games is getting ever more complicated: it started in 2008 as the Ravelympics, and that is the name by which many people still know the event. In 2012, though, Ravelry got a cease-and-desist from the International Olympic Committee, informing us that that use of the word "olympic" was in violation of trademark laws, and that we would have to change the name. And we're not the only ones! The International Olympic Committee (the IOC) has long been known for its overzealous & completely ridiculous c&ds: these have included, among others, one sent to a Greek restaurant, a newspaper, and basically every business in Washington state ("you can't call that the Olympic Café! People might think it's the Olympics!")
After a certain amount of grumbling -- it's still hard to believe believe that they were serious -- the name of the Games was changed to Ravellenics, in reference to the Panhellenic Games, another series of sports festivals held in ancient Greece.
This year, there has been some confusion over what, exactly, is going on in the official Ravellenics group. Here's the long and short of it: the moderators enforced a no-politics rule in the official group, with the understanding that politics were allowed in other groups and discussion threads, just not on the main board.
As we all know, the anti-gay laws in Russia have been a major point of contention this year among people all over the world, and Team Sherlocked decided to start what they called the Rainbowllenics Challenge as a way to be visible in protest. That link will take you to the official info-post about the challenge, but the gist of it is "knit something rainbow to show your support for the LGBT+ community in Russia."
The first problems arose when the announcement of that challenge was deemed "political" and taken down, without notice, from Team Sherlocked's invitation to join their team. That kicked off a lot of heated discussion about what constituted "political discussion" and what sorts of things would be censored from the Ravellenics board. People defected, talked about starting their own Ravellenic Games, etc. -- several other teams pledged support to the Rainbowllenics challenge, and as the moderators of the main group tried to clarify their rules, people became angrier and more hurt by the way the no-politics rule was being handled.
Eventually and without much warning, the original moderators abdicated control of the group, deleted most of the group information, and left. At the moment (Monday afternoon), Ravelry's code monkey Casey is the only moderator of the group, and voting for new moderators is expected to open soon. There is a lot of discussion over what the rules should be like, who should moderate the group, and how, exactly, we are going to run the event during future Olympic Games.
If you're not already knowledgeable about how the Games function, I would recommend staying off of that group page until the new moderators are elected and everything is up and running again. Seriously. I know how this works and even I have gotten confused in the last few days. There is a thread calling for volunteer moderators here; if you are interested, you can read through what some of them have to say about their qualifications and vote for the new mods here.
We are probably going to have a Team Lancaster Yarn Shop; we have had one in previous years. There is a full list of teams on this page, if you're interested in cruising for one that is just right.
The Ravellenics are a lot of fun, trust me. It's not as huge and complicated as it might seem, and it's only going to get more streamlined as the rules are reworked and we go through a few more years of events. This is only the fourth time our Games have run, remember -- we don't have nearly the amount of experience that the real-world Olympics do. Here's the most important thing to remember: Ravelry is a wiki, and it benefits from your input. If you want to fully understand the Ravellenics and help to make it better, great! Go read up on the current group, and take a look at the 2012 group too. There's a lot of good information in there, and if you have questions there's a "Newbies" thread in the 2014 group. Ask away!
Just remember: one project, one team, as many events as you can possibly stand.