A social media network just for knitters and crocheters? Sign me up! If you’re looking for a great way to keep track of your projects and get inspired to start new ones, look no further. Ravelry is an amazing resource, and you can get more out of it than you ever dreamed possible.
Can’t decide what to make next? No problem! More than half a million patterns from knitting/crochet books, magazines, blogs, and Ravelry designers are stored on the site. You can search by keywords, category, yarn weight, total yardage, free vs. paid patterns, and more. If you love a particular designer, you can view all their patterns at once. There’s even a browser extension that lets you go directly from web pages of published patterns to their Ravelry pages so you can easily save them in your library for future access. A ton of patterns are available as Ravelry downloads as well; you can save these on the site so you can find them easily instead of having to dig around on your hard drive for the saved PDFs.
Save your project details
Create a project page for each item you make. You can add as much or as little information as you feel like; there are fields for needle/hook size, the yarn brand/color, total yardage used (I am a geek and use my food scale to weigh the projects and calculate the exact yardage), and general notes. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone back to check what hook size I used on a project that I set aside for a while or what weight yarn I need for a project I want to duplicate. I also love making notes about any changes I made while working — that way I can remember the typo on row three, the color sequence for multi-color projects, what row I was on when I had to set it aside, or that I changed the size by adding or subtracting stitches from the starting chain. The notes are also handy if you’re working without a pattern and want to write down your stitches for future reference. And be sure to post photos! The designer may even contact you to post your work on their pattern listing.
Check out other people’s projects
Not sure if there’s a typo on row three? From pattern pages, you can look at other people’s projects and read their notes to see what changes they might have made. You can also browse through pictures to see how a particular item looks in different colors or variegated vs. self-striping yarns.
Groups and Forums
Here’s where we get into the more social aspect of the site. You can join all kinds of groups and post on discussion boards to chat with other knitters and crocheters. Many small yarn shops have groups where they post about upcoming events, classes, and sales. You can look for local groups that have get-togethers or just keep each other apprised about goings on in the area. If you want to do a knit or crochet along, tons of them have support groups where people can post questions about difficult sections or what yarn they’re using. It’s kind of absurd how specific some of the groups get, but that’s the fun of it!
Save your stash
If you want to get really hardcore, you can go through your yarn stash and needles/hooks and save all the details on the site. Need another skein to finish a project? You can look up the dye lot to see if the store has more of the same. Can’t remember if you already own 16″ size 8 cable needles? No need to go through all your needles to check; just pull up the site. You can also list unwanted yarn for sale or look for someone who wants to swap with you.
List your own patterns
If you’ve made your own patterns, you can post them for other people to use! I put up a link to my catnip mice and it’s been ridiculously exciting to see a couple other people make them. You can either post them for free as links or Ravelry downloads or sell them through the site (or link to your own Etsy store or another site that sells them).
My Favorite Ravelry Hacks
- Not sure if you want to shell out the money for a particular book? You can find its page on Ravelry and look at all the patterns! I love to do this to figure out if I’ll make enough different projects to justify the cost or if I should just hit up the library when I’m ready to get to work on the only one I like.
- Find some yarn you can’t live without but have no idea what to make with it? Look up the yarn’s page and then go through other people’s projects to see what they made (and if it looks as good worked up as it does in the skein).
- Does your yarn look like a worsted even though the label says DK? Check Ravelry. Twice this year I’ve had a hell of a time getting the gauge right on a project, only to realize that the damn label was wrong but Ravelry was right when they listed a different weight. (Grrrr.)
- Feeling nosy? Watch the radar to see people marking projects as finished in realtime. It’s so cool to see what people are making all over the world (and if you particularly love an item, you can click through to find the pattern if they used one).
My new favorite thing on Ravelry is getting free patterns in exchange for giving the designer some feedback. In groups like The Testing Pool, you can look for open projects you like and then volunteer to be a tester. You’ll get an advance copy of the pattern and you may also get another free pattern or additional compensation when you finish; this varies by designer. Just be sure you can meet the listed requirements — the deadline may be just a few days away (depending on the size of the project; hats obviously have a much tighter timeline than afghans) and you may need specific previous experience to ensure you can give accurate feedback.
Most importantly, you have to be willing to follow the instructions exactly and take detailed notes so if you find mistakes, the designer can fix them before publishing the finished project. This can be frustrating if you end up testing a pattern that’s not well-written and the designer doesn’t particularly care, but I’ve tested half a dozen patterns since the beginning of the year and I’ve only had this happen once (the finished product still looked cute, it was just a bit more frustrating than it needed to be because I’m picky). Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for crocheters and they tend to get snapped up quickly, but there are always a ton of open knitting projects. But even with the limited options, just since January I’ve made a really cute hat, a scarf with cables that look like DNA, some lacy fingerless gloves for the kiddo, an amigurumi monster, and other assorted projects.
What are you waiting for? Go sign up, add me as a friend, and then we can be yarn buddies!