Five Reasons Every Knitter Needs a Ravelry Account

Knitting is a matter of two sticks and a long piece of string. But it is made more fun, interesting, exciting, whatever when you have some other tools as well. I contend that every knitter should have a Ravelry account for the following five reasons (and, believe me, narrowing it down to only five was quite a challenge!).

1. Keeping Track of Things. How many times have I started a notebook of swatches, project notes, and pattern modifications only to lose it, have a child color in it, or found a prettier notebook and abandoned the old one? Many, many times. Enter Ravelry. My Notebook on Ravelry is the most wonderful way to keep track of it all. Projects, plans, inspirations, stash… my knitting brain all in one place. Fabulous!

2. Pattern Extravaganza! Currently the Ravelry pattern database includes over 15,000 sock patterns, over 46,000 sweater patterns, almost 16,000 stuffed animal patterns, and more! Using the search filters, a member of Ravelry can search for patterns knit in bulky weight wool, or she can look for the perfect baby sweater knit top-down with some lace accents, or just toe-up socks. The wealth of patterns is overwhelming and super exciting. Additionally, once a pattern is selected the knitter can now look at all the projects other knitters have completed using that pattern – other knitters who have differing body types, yarn selections, and skill levels. The knitter can see that same sweater with various modifications and be alerted to any errors in the pattern. All this side info may make or break her resolve to knit that particular pattern, may save her some frustrations, and just might suggest variations that she finds pleasing.

3. Yarn-alog. Like the pattern database, the yarn database is ultra amazing. Search for the perfect yarn for your pattern, find new yarns, read reviews, see projects knit in the yarn you are considering, and meet “Yarnie’s” who are making new yarns all the time. Can’t remember the fiber content or care instructions for your stash of Juniper Moon Farm Sabine? Trying to determine the yardage of ten balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace? Check it out! Just be careful not to drool on your keyboard…

4. Making new friends. This is the most surprising part of Ravelry for me – the social aspect. Where else can a girl get to know people of so many different walks of life? I may think differently than you on many things, but we have knitting in common and that makes us friends. Of course, joining some of the groups and taking part in the discussion forums helps us find more things that we have in common, but even if you don’t have a bunch of kids, even if you aren’t a Christian, even if you don’t own a cow, we can chat about our mutual love of lace or that cable pattern that gave us so much trouble. On the other hand, I have found a group for all those things that I mentioned – a group for Christian knitters, a group for Moms of Many who also knit, and a group for homesteaders, as well as many others. Through Ravelry I have learned new things, been challenged in my own ideas and opinions, and made some pretty amazing friends.

5. Pattern Control. An amazing feature of Ravelry is the library – my library. Every pattern I have ever bought through Ravelry is there, waiting for me to download at my leisure. This has come in handy more than once. In addition, I can keep track of my physical knitting library there. Using my Ravelry library I can see what patterns I have in magazines, books, and PDF’s in one place. I can find that sweater pattern that was in that one magazine from three years ago without dragging out my stacks of magazines and going through them one at a time. Ravelry tells me that it is in the Spring ’09 issue of Interweave Knits (it also lets me know that I will need 1500 yds of fingering weight yarn, a size 4 needle, and to look up the erratta on the website). I don’t have to tell you how convenient that is.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now (if you haven’t already). And be sure to friend me – I am woolandchocolate. 🙂

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Wren

I am the oldest of eight kids (when I first typed that, it came up “oddest”, which I guess is also true!) We range in age from 34 to 8 years of age and are all very different from each other. Some of us are energetic and athletic and ambitious. Some of us are strong leaders, and some of us are still young and cute. There are also a lot of artists among us.

Wren is right in the middle of the pack age-wise. She has been drawn to crafting since she was knee high to a grasshopper and is now an extremely talented artist. She can take anything – beads and wire, crayons and paper, shells from the beach and a twig from the backyard – and make something beautiful, something extraordinary. Still just a teen, she has already sold her jewelry on Etsy, at craft fairs, and on consignment in various stores (from pet stores to beauty salons to gun stores!) in nearby Fresno.

Wren inspires me to be more creative, more productive, and more experimental with my craft. She also examples to me the industrious, hard working attitude that any crafter needs if they hope to make a living with their art.

So, when I was making this, my second headband pattern, I was thinking of my little sister, Wren.

The Wren Headband looks more complicated than it really is and only took me about 2 hours to knit up. Plus, it only uses about 30 yards of Malabrigo Rios to complete. It is now for sale in my pattern store on Ravelry.

Coming up next – The Mysti Headband

Cleaning Out the Queue

I know you were wondering what all that yarn was for yesterday.

Well, I cleaned out my Ravelry Queue. I like to use it as a list of things that I am actually going to knit, but I often get carried away. It does tend to get cluttered up with things that I would love to knit but know that I probably never will. From time to time I like to pare it down to reality, as in “I can (and will) knit all these things this year”.

The yarn that I showed you yesterday is for the first seven items in my queue. Yarn for the eighth and ninth item came yesterday in the mail. Items 10 and on are still a kind of dream and I will probably run out of days this year. If I still like them next year, I guess they might have a chance.

I feel really good about this. I have a list of knits that I want to make and a box of yarn with which to make them.

So, how do you use your Ravelry Queue?

Five Reasons Every Knitter Needs an iPad

Knitting is a matter of two sticks and a long piece of string. But it is made more fun, interesting, exciting, whatever when you have some other tools as well. I contend that every knitter should have an iPad for the following five reasons.

1. GoodReader. GoodReader is, by far, the best thing that happened to my knitting (well, since the ball winder…). It is so much more than just a PDF reader – it surfs the web so that I can download patterns straight off of Raverly; it lets me highlight, annotate, and put stickie notes all over the patterns; it saves copies of the annotated patterns separately from the original; and much more. With GoodReader I can keep track of my progress on charted lace and I can highlight the sizes that I am working on a sweater. It also comes in handy reading magazines and other non-knitting publications, although I don’t know why anyone would want to…

2. Ravelry. Raverly has yet to come out with an iPad app, but I hear that it is in the works. Regardless, through Safari I can access Raverly from anywhere (that has WiFi, I didn’t get the 3G pad). That is a huge must for this knitter.
Must. Have. My. Ravelry.

3. Row counters. I have such a petpeeve about row counters. When I use them (which isn’t very often) I find them to be troublesome, annoying, and generally in the way. That is why I love the various row counting apps available for the iPad. Just tap the screen at the end of your row and it keeps track of how many rows you have knit. Some fancy apps will even alert you when the pattern row is coming up, keep track of your inc or dec rows, and frog back when (heaven help us) it might be necessary. A very clever tool.

4. It also plays audio books. (Or music, if you prefer.) I love my Audible audio books and I have logged many hours listening while I knit.

5. Angry Birds. Because who doesn’t love flinging little funny birds at fat, green pigs?

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

I belong to several groups on Ravelry. (Okay, okay – so I belong to a lot of groups on Ravelry). One of them is a group for women who are due to have a baby in June. It is fun to “hang” with this group, which is comprised mostly of new, young, first-time mothers. It reminds me that, while this pregnancy thing is old hat for me, there are some wonders happening here. 🙂

Sadly, though, when you have a group of 100 pregnant women, there is bound to be a tragedy or two. A few months ago, one of our group members gave birth to her stillborn son at 26 weeks. She blogs about it here.

Heartbreaking.

While we can’t make it better, or easier, for her, some of us in the group decided to put together a care package to send her. I got to be the “point-man”, so to speak, and had the honor of receiving and assembling all the gifts into one box, then shipping it all off to our mourning member. This is the little photo collage that I posted in the group so that everyone who took part could see the end result. I wanted to share it here because it is so amazing to see people come together to help a hurting heart. None of us really know this Mama beyond an avatar and a few forum posts, but our hearts go out to her. The generosity of these ladies is mind boggling. Over the last month, as package after package arrived, and my paypal account swelled with funds to help with shipping “and whatever else”, The Man and I were in awe.

So here it is:

All the loot spread out on the piano:

There was yarn, patterns, tea, chocolate, flower seeds, stitch markers, handmade gifts, and more.

I wrapped everything in tissue:

And packed it into the LL Bean tote:

Like this:

My girls helped assemble little goodie bags for the two children who lost their little brother:

Everything fit into the box (whew!):

And there you have it. What comes of everyone giving a little bit.

If you think of her, please pray for her. These gifts may brighten her day, but only God can bring her the true comfort her heart yearns for.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” Romans 12:15

I’m Not Obsessed, I am Passionate…. er, something….

When it comes to spending my spare moments in selfish pursuits, I am torn between two pastimes – knitting and reading about knitting on the internet. And, while doing the actual knitting is my favorite, I find that more and more often, I am sitting in front of the computer. I mean, wow! There is so much to read and learn, and so many friends to be made. Between Ravelry forums, writing this blog, and reading about all of your fabulous knitting exploits on your blogs, I could spend hours a day just reading about knitting. And, while I would love to knit while I read, as stated previously, I only have two hands. Lately, I have been doing more reading than knitting because, despite having six WIP’s (yes, it went up one since I last spoke of it), I am bored with them. Until now. Finally, the all consuming knitting project has come along, causing me to do more than read.

Again, with the lousy picture. Anyone have a camera they want to send me?

You see, I recently participated in a swap on Ravelry. I have been watching these swaps for awhile, but they always look too expensive. Then, I saw this one, a Knit Picks stash swap. No purchase required. I am so glad that I signed up. I sent out some lovely sock yarn (that I bought long ago, for who-knows-what), a couple of knitting books I will never use, some treats, a knitting bag, and some stitch markers (that I made) to a lovely knitter in Minnesota, whom I have never met. Then, a few days later, I received a package from another lovely knitter, in Arkansas (who happened to be a Christian like me – bonus!) filled with yarn and patterns and tea and lotion.

When I say filled, I mean filled – eight balls of Wool of the Andes in White with two patterns – Abalone and Hemlock Ring Doily Throw (and you know I am going to make that throw!) Plus, three balls of Shadow in Vineyard – a most excellent shade of dark purple (OH I LOVE PURPLE!!!) to make Rona Lace Shawl, pattern included.

So, you know what I am going to say next, right? That Rona Shawl was on my needles in a flash! I tell you, folks, I am obsessed with- no. I  am passionate about knitting lace.

That makes seven WIPs, for those of you who are counting. (You know who you are)

Please Let Me Win!

Okay, so instead of blogging this weekend, I spent all of my computer time on Ravelry participating in their reclassification project. If you don’t know what is going on, maybe it is better that you don’t look. They are reorganizing and have asked all their members to help. (it may be too late to get in on it) The incentive for your help is a drawing suited for any knitters dreams, and for every pattern reclassified, you get entered into that drawing once. I did 1359. Oh, Lord, please let me win!

The prizes are all too much. How could one even choose a favorite? There is a cricket loom, a bunch of Namaste stuff, scads of yarn, fibers and patterns, and even a trip to Stitches! My heart is palpatating at the hope this raises in me! Oh, Lord! Please let me win!

Reality check. Sure, I did 1359 patterns. But there are, what?, over 140,000 patterns. So, seventeen prizes means seventeen winners, and who am I kidding? I don’t ever play the lotto, enter sweepstakes or gamble in any way. But I get the thrill. Oh, the thrill. Oh, Lord! Please let me win!

Ravelry, you have made a mess out of me. How am I going to make it to the actual drawing? I am dreaming of things I could never buy, and hoping for things I will (probably) never have. Dear Ravelry, what have you done to me? Oh, Lord! Please let me win!

Do you think God answers those kinds of prayers?