Have you ever wished that there was a way you could go to a website and see what yarn you have and what projects they might be good for? Is it a dream of yours to be able to share your Love of All Things Sherlock Holmes and your Love of All Things Knitted/Crocheted with a group of like minded people? Do you want somewhere that you can see what yarn/fiber/tools/wheels/looms people are willing to trade? Have you ever had a dream where there was a magical website that knew what yarn you had and could suggest patterns that you could knit/crochet with that exact yarn?
Well, Ravelry is all of that and more (Except the magic part, you have to enter your stash in but it does make suggestions, it rocks like that). Now I can already hear you advanced to intermediate crafters saying “I am not spending my precious crafting time taking three years to enter my stash into anything, no way, no how.” To that I will say, “Start with your newest acquisition, then make some project pages, and go from there.” While I do know someone that inherited their grandmother’s stash and fully intends to put that entire stash into her Ravelry account, that is not something that you have to do. Like any other tool this is as useful as you make it, but if something overwhelms you then you can give that part a miss, (this is what I keep telling myself is my reason for not putting my stash in there).
To start you need to create a Ravelry Account. From there I did a search on what interested me and joined several groups. Okay, I joined a lot of groups, darn my varied interests. Fortunately the active threads of the group tend to float to the top of that groups feed so you can see what people are talking about, and peek in on what they are up to. I really enjoy checking out my feeds, especially since I can organize them into different tabs, Podcasts, Everything Else, and Literary Interests. Since I have really become interested in listening to podcasts, and discovered the Sherlock and Cthulhu boards, I have taken advantage of the tabs to get a bit more organized. Eventually I hope to create more tabs such as Sales, Weaving, and Spinning. Instead of doing that I am creating this post, lol.
In addition to the interactive elements your Notebook allows you quite a bit of creativity and organizational capabilities. Inside the Notebook menu you have options like:
Projects, Handspun, Stash, Queue, Favorites, Friends, Groups & Events, Needles and Hooks, Library, Message Box, Blog Posts, Contributions, Purchases, and Upload a Photo.
Whew, that is quite a bit to get through. Some of them are fairly obvious, Favorites are favorite patterns/yarns. Friends are the friends that you have made within ravelry, message box is like your e-mail inbox, purchases are patterns that you have purchased within ravelry, and Upload a photo is where you can upload a photo to add to your stash/comments/etc. This function does cost a nominal fee every year, I think $5.
*Projects, these are your current WIPs or Works in Progress. You can choose your yarn, pattern, progress, name your project, and show off to everyone. This is a great way to get people interested in what you are working on and also to give yourself some motivation to continue. As a general rule people are very encouraging and helpful!
*Handspun, if you are a spinner (or just like to buy other people’s handspun) then this is the tab for you. You can upload information about your yarns, and keep track of what handspun you have available to work with. There are some great suggestions for information you might want to include in your description of your yarn, some you might not have even thought of but that will help you decide what you want to do with your handspun in the future.
*Stash, okay so this is pretty obvious and I have covered it pretty extensively in an earlier paragraph, but I cannot emphasize it enough. Once Ravelry knows what yarn you have and how much of it, it Makes Suggestions about Patterns. That really does rock.
*Queue If you know that you are going to be working on a particular pattern next with a particular yarn, put it in your Queue so that your friends know, and so that you don’t forget what you bought that yarn for. This is a great way to keep track of what future projects you might want to work on.
*Needles and Hooks Say you are out at your LYS (Local Yarn Store) and you want to know if you have a set of size 8DPN (double pointed needles) for the yarn you are looking at. Do you buy another set just in case you don’t or do you buy the last three balls of that color and hope you have the needles at home? You don’t do either, you check your Ravelry page and see Oh, yes I have those needles so I’ll buy the extra yarn instead. While I’m on Ravelry Anyway I’ll just add this yarn to my stash, oh look at that pretty pattern I can make with that extra yarn!
* Library I love the library function, I am able to add patterns that I find/purchase on Ravelry as well as patterns that I have available to me through my own book collection. I have not had a chance to go through my mothers (many decades) of patterns that she has accumulated, but as I discover my own interests/passions I am finding that I can record what patterns I have acquired and where I can find them for future use. Actually that is one of the most useful tips I found on Ravelry. As I get a new Magazine, mark it in my stash and mark what patterns are found in that issue. That way if I go back and look for a pattern I can find it in my library and know which magazine to look for it in.
*Blog Posts Ravelry is linked up with my blog and so I can see my blog posts, and others can see my blog posts right from Ravelry. This is a good way to obtain some exposure for my blog.
*Contributions If you are a pattern designer, or if you spin/paint/dye your own yarn then this is where you can make contributions to the fiber arts community, whether for free or for profit.
As you can see, Ravelry is a great way for you to get organized as well as sharing your love of fiber arts with a lot of like-minded individuals. Whether your love is very general or very specific, if you are organized/would like to be organized/have no interest in organization at all Ravelry has a place for you. This is a great resource, that I under-utilize, but I hope to become more active in the near future.