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.
- Enlarge all of the pattern pictures to make sure I really like the pattern, either as is or with simple modifications.
- Skim the projects to see if it is generally flattering on the people who have made it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!