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From pins to projects: Pinterest in real life

Story highlights

  • Pinterest is a rapidly growing, highly visual online "pinboard"
  • Users can collect items from around the Web and share them with friends
  • The site has gained quite a following in the crafting and DIY community
  • Browse the gallery above to see real-life projects inspired by images found through Pinterest

"There is a nasty bug going around," wrote Kelly Ishmael on her blog back in January. "A lot of my friends have been bitten by it and it is highly contagious."

Indeed, it is contagious -- particularly among women. Some might call it addictive, even. Nevertheless, no, this article doesn't belong in the health section. Because the bug that's infected Ishmael, her friends and thousands of women around the world is called Pinterest. And there's no known cure.

Pinterest, for the uninitiated, is a highly visual website that lets users collect -- or "pin" -- items from around the Web. The main thing that separates it from older social bookmarking sites, such as del.icio.us, is its emphasis on images. And it's that visual interest that makes Pinterest -- created by three men, by the way -- so popular among women, whether they're planning a wedding or looking for a craft to try with their girlfriends.

Pinterest grew 400% from September to December last year, and the site's users are about 58% women. Why the appeal? Pinterest user and social media consultant Colleen Pence thinks she knows the answer:

"Everything on Pinterest looks so appealing, so gorgeous, so effortless," she wrote on CNN iReport. "And somehow merely viewing these amazing things makes us feel that we can elevate ourselves and -- heck -- our lives to that level of sophistication, creativity and beauty if only we could make/wear/cook/say/invent those things too."

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    Why all the interest in Pinterest?

Why all the interest in Pinterest? 01:28
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Pinboards, then, serve as inspiration for those who create them. But do those beautiful boards result in any real-life change or creativity? Pence is skeptical, and even Pinterest addict Ishmael admits that she usually spends more time pinning than doing.

    "The problem with Pinterest, though, is that I spend a lot of time pinning, pinning, pinning and not enough time trying, trying, trying," she wrote on her blog. So she decided to challenge herself with a venture she's calling 52 Weeks of Pinspiration, during which she'll try out a different Pinterest-inspired project each week and blog about her experience and results.