The assumption of this post is that some readers may not have heard of Ravelry, or joined Ravelry yet. So today, I’d like to talk about Ravelry, why it’s so great and why you’d be a “fool” not to join.
Ravelry is a free online resource of information for knitting and crochet. Founded by husband and wife team, Jessica and Casey, Ravelry came into existence in May 2007. Since then, it’s grown to more than 600,000 members (I last saw the stats a few months ago, so it’s probably more like 700,000 now). For knitters especially, it’s bigger than Facebook. Every time I go on to Ravelry, I think that Jessica and Casey should win an award or something, for creating such a genius site.
Why Ravelry? It is best explained in terms of its usefulness. I’ve listed below some of the many features of Ravelry that I find particularly useful. But there are many more – you’ll just have to join to find out!
1. It saves a lot of angst. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have looked at a pattern, thought “that looks nice” or “I shall knit that”, and then look up the completed projects for that pattern on Ravelry and found that:
a) it looks hideous on real people (saving me the trouble of knitting the ill-fated project myself and then feeling discouraged when the project didn’t turn out as anticipated);
b) it looks fabulous on real people (giving me confidence that my chosen project is knit-worthy);
c) the pictures show up areas in the pattern that I will need to be aware of when I’m knitting to make sure that it’s adjusted to suit me (if necessary);
d) there’s errata noted that helps to overcome pattern errors as I go along;
e) a knitter’s notes on her process while knitting this project will be useful when I’m knitting mine so that I can customise it to better suit my body shape, or navigate tricky bits of the pattern with confidence; or
f) I’ve been able to get a good idea as to whether the substitute yarn I’m considering will work with the pattern.
2. It’s a very good source of moral support from the universe of knitters. For example:
a) you ‘meet’ people with even bigger collections of yarn than yours. This is a marvellously soothing experience for one’s unnecessary level of guilt over the size of one’s yarn hoard;
b) you get to ask questions about a technique you are stuck with, and receive help for it;
c) you actually do get to meet real people through knitting meet-ups organised on Ravelry for the real world. And you can make friends all over the world through Ravelry groups, forums and chat-rooms (not all topics covered are about yarn or knitting!); and
d) you can join knit-a-longs (KALs) for a chosen pattern, or groups which concentrate on certain themes or initiatives (such as, “10 in 2010”, cables, fairisle, hats, kids knits, guernsey jumpers, Harry Potter, blogging… the list is endless). This has the effect of giving focus to your knitting. It allows you to proudly show off your finished masterpiece and receive praise for it (particularly talented individuals are known to have hundreds of “love” votes against their projects); get help when you are stuck; feel good about helping another knitter with a question about the pattern or technique; or simply gain inspiration from seeing all those amazing projects knitted or crocheted by others.
3. It’s a great source of information. In addition to above:
a) you learn a lot about yarn – there is so much information that knitters have contributed – what a yarn is like/how it knits up/how it does/doesn’t perform;
b) you can get a sense of how popular a yarn is by how many times it has been stashed and its star rating;
c) you can find patterns to suit your budget, whether free or paid for and at the same time also gauge how popular that pattern is and how easy/difficult people found it; and
d) through membership of Ravelry groups that are geographically focused (eg. Wellington Fibre Artists), you can find out the local goings-on and news related to knitting for your area.
4. It’s an opportunity to contribute. As well as loading the notes and photographs of your own projects, you can also:
a) share details of a pattern (if it’s not a free download, you can still list details of where to find the pattern/what yarn it uses/who designed it, etc.);
b) share details of a yarn brand you are using – particularly if it isn’t already on Ravelry’s database;
c) share information about where you shop. This helps knitters who are new or visiting your area to find out where they can buy yarn in your locale (because after all, when in a new place, one has to sample the yarnie delights!);
d) host a group that brings together knitters or crocheters with the same interests; and
e) become a volunteer editor.
For Ravelry’s official tour, click here.
So what are you waiting for? Join the fun today!