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.
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.
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.
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!
One day many years ago I was babbling happily to my sister, building a castle in the clouds. She listened cheerfully for a while until I started referring to my cloudy castle as my “plan.” She frowned for a second, then interrupted me and, as gently but firmly as a sister can, said, “Honey, that’s not a plan; that’s an idea.” And she’s right, of course
Anyone who has spent any time at all with me will know that I have a million great ideas every day. Great big, whopping, blow my mind ideas. Every day. Ideas coming out my ears…and other places. But… It doesn’t become a plan until I put some serious thought into the actual work involved and how I hope to accomplish it. Most of the ideas I have will never amount to a plan. Most of them aren’t meant to. It’s the nature of a creative mind to churn out ideas, no matter what the consequences.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot more about prioritizing, task breakdown, setting goals and objectives, creating specific and measurable benchmarks, ongoing assessment, cost to benefit analysis, etc. I’ve learned a great deal about how to recognize an idea that will eventually turn into a plan, and an idea that will have to remain an idea.
The rubber hits the road when it comes to my knitting, though. I am a process knitter. I swatch for fun…though almost never when actually planning a design. I have a so many UFO’s in the idea category that I can’t even count them all. Most of the things I cast on never make it past the idea stage to become actual plans. Even some of the things that start out on the path to become Things never make it all the way. And I have chronic startitis. I love beginnings and possibilities. I even like the early stages of momentum. I really enjoy adapting on the fly, which is like a new beginning that comes somewhere in the middle.
It’s not that I lack the will or discipline to finish things. I am really a very willful, disciplined person. It’s not that I don’t care about finished objects. Admittedly, I am not a product oriented knitter, but I do like the satisfaction that comes with the last bound off stitch, or a perfectly mattress stitched seam. I actually approach finishing as a separate project with it’s own beginning.
I love the knitting process so much that I want to be delighted by every moment. And I get bored so easily. When I’m working on something tedious and repetitive, I’ll go out of my way to add spice to the process. I play “what if” games with myself. What if I wrapped my yarn clockwise rather than counter clockwise? What if I worked left handed? What if I knit back backwards instead of turning my work? What if I switched from English to Continental…or Middle Eastern or Irish Lever or Scottish or Portuguese, or Combination? What if I just put a row of eyelets here for fun? What if, what if, what if?
Sometimes those “what if’s” are ideas, and sometimes they turn into plans. Sometimes they add to my skill set and help me teach. Sometimes they just help me stay engaged and in the knitting moment. It is the “what if’s” that have kept me fascinated with knitting for my whole life. No matter how many times I take up a bit of string and two sticks, it’s always a process of discovery. Because I make it so. It is my fervent hope that I keep having a million creative ideas every day, and that most of them will never become plans. It is my fervent hope that I keep finding new ways to approach this old love of mine. Every knitting moment is precious to me, and I want to stay in love with knitting for the rest of my life.