An Introduction to Ravelry

Category: Tips & Tricks

Ravelry.com has been a revolution in the fiber crafting world since its launch in 2007. There are SO MANY ways it can be helpful to you! This is the tip of the iceberg for very beginners. Think of it as a social network for knitters and crocheters, an organizing tool, and the ultimate pattern database.

1) Go to Ravelry.com. You will have to make an account before you can explore. It’s simple and free! Just click the “Join Now!” button. Follow the instructions for logging in.

2) After logging in, you’ll find yourself on the home page. You will see the featured blog post of the day in the middle of the page. These usually describe popular patterns, happenings in the yarn world, or tips for using Ravelry. You will see navigational tabs at the top of the page. This is how you get around the site.

3) Click on the “Yarns” tab. Here, you can type in the name of a yarn that you have in your stash (perhaps one that you don’t know what to do with, or one you want to know more about).

4) Once you’ve selected a particular yarn, you’ll see a second set of navigational tabs across the top.

  • Want to look for patterns designed for this yarn? Click on “pattern ideas” 
  • Want to read reviews about this yarn? Click on “comments”.
  • Want to know where to buy this yarn online? Click on “buying options”.
  • Want to see photos of what other people have made with this yarn? Click on “projects”.

5) Next, try clicking on the “Patterns” tab. The #1 thing that Ravelry.com can do for you is broaden your search for the perfect pattern to include countless thousands of patterns published by independent designers as well as large publishers and yarn companies. Basically every pattern that has ever been written is catalogued on Ravelry, whether or not you can purchase it on Ravelry.

6) In the top left corner, you will see a search bar. Below it, you will see the word “Personalize”. This is where you can select whether you want to see knit patterns, crochet patterns, or both. Click whichever one you want. If you want to see what the hottest patterns of the moment are, there’s a Top 20 list right below the search bar as well – it’s updated several times per day!

7) Then, use the search bar to search for something. Maybe try searching for “shawl”. You will find hundreds of pages of shawl patterns to browse through.

8) You might want to limit your search at this point. Click on any of the attributes in the column on the left side of the page. You can select as many search-limiting criteria as you want to. For example, you can search only for patterns which are designed for women, using sport-weight yarn, using alpaca fiber, with colorwork techniques, and only up to 600 yards of yarn. If you find you limited the search too much, just click the check boxes again to un-select them. If you are looking for patterns which you can actually purchase or download immediately from Ravelry, then start by selecting “Free” and “Ravelry download”. This eliminates patterns that are catalogued from other sources like books and magazines.

9) Click on any pattern with an appealing photo. You’ll see more details posted by the designer about this particular pattern, yarn, gauge, size, cost, et cetera.

10) At the top of the page, you’ll see another navigation bar. Click on “Projects” to see photos that other Ravelry users have posted of their project using this pattern. This feature is amazing for giving you an idea of what the finished product will look like!

11) On the individual pattern page, there will typically be a box on the right side of the page. If you want to buy this pattern, go ahead and click on “Buy on Ravelry”. You will be given a link to download a PDF file containing the pattern, which you can view digitally or print!

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what you can do with Ravelry.com, but that should be enough to get you started and convince you that it’s a priceless tool for knitters and crocheters! You can also use Ravelry to participate on message boards, join clubs, make friends, send comments or questions to any user or any designer, archive your personal yarn stash, and share photographs of your finished projects.

P.S. If you don’t use Ravelry at home, we’re always delighted to help you find patterns or information using Ravelry here at the shop. We will also buy and print Ravelry patterns for you, any time!

Ravelry Tips to Use Up Your Stash

Category: Tips & Tricks

I guess I could also have titled this post, “Ravelry Tips to Find Purpose for That Yarn You Needed an Excuse to Buy”, because that’s a large part of why I use Ravelry. You know how it goes: You’re in the yarn shop, minding your own business, when suddenly a skein of yarn winks at you from the shelf. “Pssst. Psssst! Take me home! Make something beautiful with me!” Before you know it, you’re turning the skein over in your hands, pressing it to your cheek, desperately trying to find a reason why you SIMPLY MUST buy it. Ravelry can help.

When I really need an excuse to buy a specific yarn have a yarn languishing in my stash, sadly purposeless and adrift, I go look it up on Ravelry. I then click on the “pattern ideas” tab. Oh, “pattern ideas” tab, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

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I love the drop down menus that allow me to choose knitting or crochet, and/or narrow it down by type of project. When I’m in the mood for fingerless mitts, these menus save me from having to scroll through 52 pages worth of shawls/hats/cowls/socks, and simply show me the 3 pages of relevant projects.

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And say that I had only purchased one skein of yarn, or ended up with one lonely skein at the end of a sweater. The “pattern ideas” page has got me covered, by letting me select how many skeins my potential project can require. That cuts out the heartbreak of falling in love with a pattern, only to realize that you don’t have enough yardage in that one-of-a-kind indie-dyed beauty you bought last year. This is also great when you’re dreaming about a new yarn purchase — you can input either the maximum number of skeins on the shelf, or the upper limit of skeins your wallet will currently permit, and trust that Ravelry will work within your yardage.

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My final favorite feature of this Ravelry gem is the way it displays the projects. It shows me which ones are free, gives me a photo of the original item on the left, and then shows me examples of the project completed in my yarn on the right. It also gives me typical yardage (by fractions of skeins, at times), the rating of the original project, and a link to helpful notes by knitters who have already boldly gone where I would like to go. If I’m pondering color choice, this can also sometimes allow me to see specific colorways in context.

 

So the next time some yarn is calling your name or you’ve decided that an item in the stash can’t wait any longer, and you aren’t quite sure what its destiny should be, look it up on Ravelry and click the ” pattern ideas” tab. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Dropped Stitches:Picking Up Where We Left Off

Category: Tips & Tricks

Dropping stitches is inevitable. Even the most experienced knitter do it from time to time. Some times I do it on purpose. I can hear you gasp, but really, why should I rip out rows and rows of work to fix one mis-crossed 4 stitch cable when everything else is just fine? The answer is, I wouldn’t and you don’t have to either. If you can just rip out the 4 stitches where the cable is fix it, and put the cable back on the needle without ripping everything out? Oh, yeah! I’m all about doing less and still getting it right. So here’s what you need to know to pick up dropped stitches with confidence, grace, dare I say panache.

At it’s most basic, knitting is simply pulling a loop through a loop, over and over again. We start with a whole bunch of loops resting on a needle. Then we lay a continuous piece of yarn across them, either in front or in back, and pull a small bight through an existing loop to create a new loop. (the word “bight” is one I’ve lifted from knot tying.  It means a small section of a longer piece of string that is wrapped around or pulled through another section of the knot.) Each loop is connected to the stitch before it and the stitch after it all in a row. Each loop is also attached to the loop below it (the loop it was actually pulled through) and well as the one above it (the loop that is pulled through it) in columns.

Stitch Mother Grandmother #2As you’re looking at your knitting, you can see the loops on the needles were pulled through the loops from the row below. Almost like it was born from the stitch below. So, we can say that every stitch has a mother…and a grandmother, and a great grandmother. And each stitch that is born has siblings, all little loops pulled up from the same piece of string on the same line. Think of it like a family tree. Every stitch in the same row is part of the same generation. It’s going to be easier to understand how to pick up a dropped stitch if you can tell which generation the dropped stitch is in, and how many generation have to be born in order to get back to the generation on the needle.

 

IMG_3956So let’s take a look at the process of making all these generations happen. First, Identify your dropped stitch. See it hanging out there? It’s a loop, alright, and it has a mother and a grandmother below it.  But no new loop is being born out of it. There is no new generation coming from it.

 

 

IMG_3959If you look behind it, though, you can see some straight bights of yarn. They look a little like ladder rungs, if ladder rungs were made out of yarn. These rungs go from the stitch on the right directly to the stitch on the left…without making loops through our little dropped stitch. Count them. In our example, you can see two of them, right? this stitch has dropped two generation down and will need to come back up those two rungs in order to get back with its siblings.

 

Remember that knitting is pulling a loop through a loop. So what do we have to do here? Right! Pull each of these bights through the dropped loop. Just like this…

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#1 Stabilize the dropped stitch by sticking your needle through it.

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#2 With your dropped stitch on your right needle, slide the tip of your needle under the first bight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#3 Use your left needle tip to pull the dropped stitch over the ladder rung bight…like binding off.

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#4 Pull the free bight through the stitch…like a loop through a loop, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then do all the steps again on the next ladder rung. Just like this…

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#5 With your new stabilized stitch on your right needle, slide the tip under the next ladder rung bight.

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#6 With the left needle, pull the stitch over the bight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#7 Pull the ladder rung bight through, like a loop through a loop.

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#8 No more ladder rungs. You’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you’ll see that there are no more ladder rungs, no more bights behind, no more generations to raise up. Your stitches look like you knit them there in the first place.

And, by the way, you can do the same thing with purls. Since a purl is just a backwards knit, so everything is backwards. Like this…

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#9 Stabilize the stitch from behind and place the loose bight in front, just like you do with your working yarn when you purl.

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#10 with your left needle, pull the stitch from behind, over the bight in front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#11 Pull the bight through the stitch, but away from you instead of toward you, like you do with a purl stitch.

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#12 See the purl bump at the base of the stitch? That’s how you know it’s a purl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3991If you look closely, you’ll see that these new stitches look like purls…because they are!

So, now you don’t need to panic if you see a dropped stitch.  And you don’t have to frog an entire piece just to fix the little thing umpty-nine rows back. You are really the boss of your stitches, and you can make them come and go as you please.

Let me know how it work out for you, and send me pictures of your generations of picked up stitches.