Yesterday was a totally knit free day, if you don’t count pattern browsing on Ravelry. For anyone who knits, crochets, spins or weaves who hasn’t been to Ravelry, go right now (after reading my blog of course). Sign up for free and check it out. It’s easy to find, www.ravelry.com.
You start when you buy some yarn. Go to “my notebook” and then “stash” and “add to stash”. Then you can document the yarn you have. It helps you keep track of where you got it, how much it cost, etc. If it is a yarn already in the Ravelry database, yarn weight and yardage per skein will pop in for you. It is a great virtual notebook to keep track of what you have in your stash. Some of this information stays private, like cost, but most of it is public to the Ravelry community.
Next, when you start a new project, you document that under “my notebook”, “projects”, “add project”. This is where you add information about the pattern you are making. If it is a pattern already in Ravelry, when you add the pattern name and link to it, a lot of information ties into your project. This is where you keep track of the size you make, the needles or hooks used, type/amount of beads added, any modifications you make, etc. If you are using a stash yarn already in Ravelry you just link to it to tie it to the project. Otherwise add the yarn information directly. You can also document when you start and end the project, and add ratings for the pattern and yarn. And you can add pictures of the yarn, your progress, and finished object. Finally you can track what you do with the project — keep, donate, sell, frog, etc. It is a great tracking tool to document your work, and loads of fun to look back on what you’ve done over the years.
But the real beauty of Ravelry comes when you are looking for inspiration. You can again start with a yarn. You can search for a yarn by name, and when you find it, then you can look at all the projects Ravelry users have made with that yarn. Almost everyone adds pictures, so you can see what the project looks like done in the exact yarn you are interested in. You can see what the color you like looks like knitted up into something. And if people add notes to their projects, you can see those too. Like if the yarn shreds or splits or is wonderful or whatever! Or you can come at it from the other side by searching by pattern name. Say there is a pattern you like, you find it by name and can then see all the projects done with that pattern. You’ll see which yarns people use, if they substitute from the recommended, how it looks when completed. Lots of times there are pictures of the things being worn so you can see that too. Also, all the notes about needle size, yarn amount, modifications or variations that have been tried are there. It is a really great way to preview something you are interested in doing, before you spend a few weeks or more actually making it.
The real fun for me though is just pattern searching. Go straight to “patterns” and then “pattern browser & advanced search”. Here you can enter as many parameters as you want to narrow your search, or leave it broad, to browse through projects and see what’s there. If you find a pattern you like you can download the free ones directly or buy the for sale ones and then usually download right away. You can keep patterns you want to find again in your library for quick reference or just browse the whole site. Yesterday I spent hours looking for ‘knitting’ ‘accessory’ ‘neck/torso’ ‘shape’ ‘crescent’ ‘weight’ ‘fingering’ ‘light fingering’ ‘yardage’ ‘customize 380-400’. This might seem like a lot of conditions to meet but it generates 540 hits. That’s 540 different patterns I could make with my Angry Dragon yarn. That’s how much information is pulled together in Ravelry. It is truly awesome. Go try it now.