An Introduction to Ravelry

Category: Yarn School

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!

Snow Day Knitting and the Jogless Jog

Category: Yarn School

The Jogless Jog: Somehow I haven’t had the occasion to use this delightful technique until yesterday, when I found myself without a project to knit during the epic Winter Storm Stella. We had to close the shop early, and there I was with all kinds of time on my hands and a warm, fuzzy feeling resulting from the gratitude I always feel to have a roof over my head when the weather is bad (and also from the space heater that I practically snuggle with in my living room). We’re lucky to be knitters on snowy days, because knitting is the natural thing for a knitter to do while hunkering down at home.

I’ve been on a bright and cheery color kick. I just finished the Hanasaku Cowl in a rainbow of purples, greens, blues and pinks and the Rainbow Warrior Shawl in hot pink and speckled turquoise. I was in the mood for this Malabrigo Worsted skein in bright plum purple. But never one to be satisfied with one single color, I decided to combine it with a bit of leftover cream-toned Cascade Eco-Duo I had lying around. Who knows where inspiration comes from? I just cast on some stitches and began knitting a hat with a hemmed edge and skinny stripes and hopefully a beret-like fit.

The only trouble with stripes in a circular-knit project is that they typically don’t line up at the beginning of the round. There’s a visible jog in the pattern. When you’re knitting around in a spiral and you switch colors, the very last stitch of the row will be basically on top of the very first stitch. One solution, of course, would be to knit all striped objects flat, then seam them with the mattress stitch. This can result in perfectly aligned stripes. But, my friends, there is a better way!

This is how it looks when you lift the stitch below up and put it onto the left needle.

Here’s how to do the Jogless Jog. It could hardly be simpler.

First, Introduce your new color and knit all the way around. No funny business. Just knit a round.

Second, when you are ready to knit the first stitch of the next row, use your right needle to lift the stitch below (which you knit in the previous color) up onto the left needle and then knit it together with the stitch.

Do this every time you switch to a new color. Not every row, just every first row of a new color.

This is how it looks on the inside. See how the end of the row shifts?

 

That’s it! it’s like a miracle – you can’t even tell where the end of the row is. By the way, the end of the row will naturally shift one stitch to the left every time you do this. It’s ok. Just go with it. You never need to hesitate about knitting stripes in the round again!

Some other things that might interest you:

 

The Case for Charts: Your Knitting is a Grid

Category: Yarn School

The other day, a visitor to the shop pulled out a scarf that she’d set aside for several years and asked me to write down the pattern so that she could continue working on it. This is not a service that I typically offer – after all, writing down patterns for my own designs is challenging enough. But in this case, it was plain to see exactly how her scarf was made as soon as I glanced at one side and then the other.

Her scarf looked essentially like this:

mistake_rib_photo_02_web

But in my head it looked like this:

mistake_rib_lauren_chart

And in a traditional chart it would look something like this:

mistake_rib_traditional_chart

But what I assumed that she wanted was this:

CO multiple of 4 + 1
Row 1: k2, (p1, k3) to last 3 sts, p1, k2
Row 2: p1, (k3, p1) to end of row
Rep Rows 1 & 2 until desired length.

But there’s a fundamental problem with the latter format. The problem is that your knitting is a grid, not a series of rows. A grid has both rows and columns. When you glance at the written pattern, you can’t see how the stitches are meant to stack on top of one another.

When jotting down a written pattern while looking at a knitted thing, one must do a mental translation from the visual into a coded format. Likewise, when attempting to read ahead in a written pattern, one must translate the code into a visual format, which most people will contend is practically impossible. It just gets confusing. I get it. It’s a mental exercise scarcely worth engaging in.

flat_versus_round_chart_reading

An infographic I made to help you follow charts. Click the image to expand it.

A chart, on the other hand, is just a schematic drawing of the actual knitted thing. It’s simply a picture of how it looks from the front side. You can’t dramatically mess it up or make it literally impossible to follow by making a simple mistake (like I did). Unfortunately, I discovered after this kind, trusting woman had walked away, I’d accidentally written something like “(p1, k3) to last 5 sts, k4”. Well, obviously that makes no sense at all – what would one do with the final stitch?

I’m sorry that I didn’t take the opportunity to teach her to follow a chart, because this very simple stitch pattern might just be the best possible example of the usefulness of charts. It’s usually called “mistake ribbing”. It’s similar to broken ribbing, except it ripples and fluffs a bit, almost like brioche knitting. But unlike brioche knitting, it’s suitable for a very beginner. Your very first project could be a mistake ribbing scarf – if you can knit and purl, you’re off to the races.