In part 1 of this Ravelry series, we learned what Ravelry is. In part 2, we learned many of the reasons for using Ravelry. Today, in part 3, we’ll hit on one of the greatest reasons to use Ravelry: the pattern library! If you’re a knitter who is constantly on the lookout for new patterns… or if you write a lot about knitting patterns (like I do!), you are going to fall in love with Ravelry’s pattern library.
All About the Ravelry Pattern Library
The Ravelry pattern library is the most well-organized and meticulously maintained collection I have ever seen. And I think it may hold the most patterns. As of this writing, there are over 348,000 knitting patterns in the Ravelry library. Of those, over 93,000 are free. You might wonder, “Why would anyone buy a pattern when you can get so many free?” There are actually several reasons. One, most of the pattern designers on Ravelry are not the wealthy glitterati of knitwear designers. They are scrappy independent designers. Many Ravelry members will purchase patterns to help support their fellow members. Two, if you want a very special pattern, sometimes a free pattern just won’t cut it. It might not have the detail you want or the special features you want. Here’s an example. A friend of mine once asked me if I could knit for her a cowl vest like the one Katniss wore in one of the Hunger Games movies. I looked through Ravelry, and though a few free options were available, they didn’t seem to resemble THE Katniss cowl as much as one of the for-sale patterns did. So I bought the pattern (which really wasn’t very expensive; I think it might have been $5) and made my friend her cowl vest. She was thrilled. I’d buy that pattern again!
The Ravelry Pattern Browser – a Stroke of Genius
Ravelry’s pattern browser is one of my favorite pieces of computer coding on earth. I’m not exaggerating! Its filter functions are just astounding. Here are the categories of filters:
Within these filters are still more filters. This means you can get very, very specific. Let’s say you want to make socks. But not just any socks; you want to make knee-high socks. Here’s how you would find such patterns. You would go to the “Category” filter. You’d click on “Accessories.” From there you would click “Feet/Legs.” Then you would click “Socks.” And, finally, you would click “Knee-highs.” (Incidentally, there are 1,273 knitting patterns for knee-high socks on Ravelry. Come on, that’s just insane!) Now, let’s say you want to search in a different way. Suppose you have a friend who adores hummingbirds. Go to the pattern browser and type “hummingbirds” in the search box. You’ll see all kinds of patterns with the word “hummingbirds” in it. This isn’t foolproof, because sometimes it’s the designer’s store name that has the word “hummingbirds” in it, or a yarn might have “hummingbird” in its name. But it’s still a pretty good jumping off point. And you can still use the filters, too, even within this way of searching. Let’s say that you take a look at the list of “hummingbird” patterns and decide you really just want to make a hat. Go to the “Category” filter, select “Accessories,” and then select “Hat.” You can further specify what kind of hat, or you can just leave it at “All Hat.” Now you may be able to understand why, whenever I have a specific item in mind that I want to knit, I hit Ravelry’s pattern browser first. I can always find something that fits my criteria!
So, How Do I Join?
Joining Ravelry couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is go to Ravelry.com, click the “join now!” button, and it will walk you through the process. Basically all you need to do is enter your email address, wait for the invitation code email (which should arrive immediately), and click the link in the email. That’s it — you’re in! Once you’re into Ravelry, you can put together a profile page, start entering projects and/or yarns and/or needles and hooks, start joining groups, start checking out forums, and of course, start browsing patterns!