How I Use Ravelry to Plan My Knitting Projects

As one of the programmers for Ravelry, I know the site very well. I don't just help make it, I use it a lot for my personal knitting projects. Today I wanted to share some of the features I use when I'm planning a project to ensure that I end up with FOs that I love.

Finding a Pattern for a Stashed Yarn

After I finished spinning up Pomegranate I knew I wanted to knit a sweater out of it. To find contenders I built this Ravelry search: sweaters, in bulky or super bulky weight (I find these weights are not well defined so I included both), with slightly more yardage than I have, and that I have in my favorites. If I don't see any contenders in my favorites I'll remove that criterion and start paging through result; anything I like I open in a new tab for evaluation. There are lots of other pattern attributes - fabric characteristics like cables or ages like adult - but I find that they are applied inconsistently and I'd rather wade through patterns that aren't quite what I'm looking for than miss out on something I would love, so I very rarely use them.

Evaluating Whether a Pattern Will Work

After a pattern has been short listed I send it through the following checklist, removing it if I am unimpressed at any step along the way.

  1. Enlarge all of the pattern pictures to make sure I really like the pattern, either as is or with simple modifications.
  2. Skim the projects to see if it is generally flattering on the people who have made it.
  3. Go back to the project page and study the yarn requirements - is my yarn similar to the recommended yarn or different but in a way I am okay with? I think about things like how the yarn construction will affect stitch definition and texture, fiber composition will affect drape, and color will reflect in those shapes. I also compare the grist of my intended yarn to the recommended yarn - weights like lace or bulky have wide ranges and two yarns in that weight may not be interchangeable.
  4. Check if I have enough yarn for the pattern. I tend to use at least 10% less than designers list for my size so that's my criterion at this point.
  5. Study in detail the projects in my size - how much yarn did those projects use? Are the models shaped like me and if so do I like how it looks on them?

If a pattern has passed all of these steps I check a few more things to make sure I'm not ignoring red flags for a pattern I find stunning.

Do I really have enough yarn? On the advanced project search for the pattern, I look at the yardages used. I assume anyone with 1-150 yards didn't actually fill out that part of the project page and ignore them. Here 22 people were able to make the pattern with yardage within 10% of how much yarn I have. I usually make the second smallest size, so that makes me feel pretty confident that I can pull it off, too.

Am I looking at samples made from comparable yarns? You will find projects with lots of creative yarn substitutions. I want to make sure that the projects I am thinking mine may turn out like come from materials similar to my own. The overwhelming majority of projects were made with bulky yarns here, so it's unlikely I am being fooled here.

What If . . . 

I don't have enough yarn and can't get more but really want to make this pattern anyway? I look at the projects that used 2+ colors and see if I like how any of them were done.

The pictures all seem to be hiding one area of the garment or some part of the fit looks consistently a little bit weird? I cross it off my list and move onto another pattern. I put too much time into my projects to knit something that I have a sinking feeling won't be amazing.

And there you have it! As you can tell, I like to use up all the yardage I have of a yarn, so I often pick patterns where I end up playing yarn chicken. These steps I've developed mean that I haven't run out just before finishing a project in years, and I am making great garments that I love. Do you have a great Ravelry tip or want to hear more about how I use the site? Let me know!