Ravelry for Beginners
What is Ravelry & Why Should You Use It?
Short answer: Ravelry is maybe the most popular website for finding and saving patterns. It’s more than that, it also provides options to save your yarn “stash” list, projects, and find a really active community of people interested in crochet and knitting.
What about Pinterest?
Pinterest is good for browsing images to spark your imagination. It’s not the best way to organize or keep patterns. Links and websites on Pinterest disappear all the time, leaving you with “404 File Not Found” errors, or links to websites with the image and no pattern.
Ravelry generally doesn’t do this since most people will store the pattern on Ravelry, so it’s always there. Once you become a member of Ravelry (it’s currently free!) you then have the option to save patterns to your Ravelry library or to download pdfs to your computer. I like to do a combination of both.
Is Ravelry always Free?
Mostly. Membership is free, saving patterns to your library is free. Most of the patterns are free. Some members create original patterns and charge for them. Once you pay for them, they are saved to your Ravelry library and you can download the pattern. You can browse your paid patterns by clicking “purchases” in the side menu.
The rest of the Ravelry community is free to access once you sign up. As of 2018, the advertising is mostly non-intrusive and there is an option to contribute if you’d like to support the website.
Other than patterns and forums, what else can I do?
To help with your organization, there are three areas you might find of interest.
Projects – these are projects you are working on or have completed.
Stash & HandSpun – your inventory of yarn. Stash is for yarn you have purchased. HandSpun for the yarn you (or a friend) have spun and is now ready to use.
Needles & Hooks – enter your inventory of hooks and needles.
You don’t have to use these, but a lot of people do. Anything you add to Ravelry gets added to your public profile and can be seen by other Ravelry members.
What types of patterns are offered?
The patterns are the power of Ravelry. There are thousands of patterns with skill levels from beginner to advanced.
I recommend, using the “pattern browser & advanced search” under “patterns”. As of this writing, there are over 260,000 crochet patterns and almost half a million knitting patterns! Unlike Pinterest, you will not find a ton of duplicate patterns here.
There are ways to narrow down your search, of course. If you are here as a beginner, choose the following filters just to get an idea of what Ravelry has to offer:
Has photo: yes
Craft: crochet (or knitting. Even if you are practicing both, just choose one this first time)
Category: Home -> Potholder (For this example, I choose potholder because they are good small projects for beginners.)
Weight: If you are using a yarn like Red Heart Super Saver, choose “Worsted”. If you are using a yarn like the Peaches & Cream 100% cotton kitchen yarn, choose “DK” and “Sport”
Yardage: for this example, we are going to skip this one. But if you only have a certain amount of yarn and are worried about having enough, this can be a good one to choose when trying to match a pattern to the amount of yarn you have.
Colors: 1 (This includes solid and variegated. Choosing 1 color means you will not be changing yarn colors with different skeins of yarn during your project)
Hook Size: 5.0 mm (H) – or choose your hook size. If you are using a 5.5 mm (I) or 6 mm (K) you can still choose 5.0mm (H) – your coaster might just be a little bit bigger than it would be with the H hook.
Difficulty: 1 – piece of cake & 2 – easy
With each option, the number of patterns decrease. After choosing the difficulty scroll back up to the top of the page and you should have about a dozen or so to choose from in the list.
If you’ve followed along with the potholder example, you should have “Magic Potholder” as one of your options. This is a neat potholder that can be used as a hotpad with a modification. (coming soon) – If you are a beginner, you just need the chain stitch (ch), single crochet (sc) and
Slip stitch (sl st) to make this one. It really does seem like magic and you learn a new skill, working “in the round”, that makes a double thick potholder that offers more protection.
Sounds like I love this Magic Potholder doesn’t it?
Maybe I do, I have several in my kitchen and more that are used as hotpads.
Choose the “Magic Potholder by Jen Spears” and you’ll get to see the magic of Ravelry and why it’s so popular.
You immediately can see the yarn weight, suggested yarn, hook size, and yardage. There are several images of finished projects by the creator of the pattern.
If you’d like to see other peoples’ completed Magic Potholders, choose the “Projects” tab and if anyone has made this and uploaded it to their Ravelry projects you’ll be able to browse those.
There is also a “Comments” tab, which is helpful if you want to see what other people have said or if they had any questions about the pattern.
Choose the “Details” tab to return to the main page for the project.
When on the main project page, you’ll find the magic words “This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download”
When you click that link, you have the option to “download PDF” (suitable for printing) and to “add to library” You should do both for this example.
Once you’ve added it to your library, you can always get to your personal library (or stash, or projects, …) by choosing it from the dropdown under “my notebook” at the top of every page.
One note about Ravelry patterns and patterns in general. Most pattern creators don’t mind at all if you sell the projects you create with their patterns. However, almost all of them, free or paid, don’t want you to sell the actual pattern they created. Even free patterns creators want you to link back to them and give them credit if you share it on your website. Creators of paid patterns want you to send people to their paid version and not give it away.
In other words, if you make it with your own hands, you can take credit for it. If it’s a copy of someone else’s pattern, give proper credit.
If you’ve never heard of Ravelry, or aren’t very familiar with it, hopefully now you know 1) why you want to use it, 2) why you want to become a member, and 3) how to find and choose from hundreds of thousands of patterns to find your next and future projects. There’s more you can do, but these are the best features when you are first starting to look for patterns. You will avoid a lot of frustration using searching Ravelry instead of Pinterest for your project hunting.
Ravelry is an excellent resource. So why All The Yarn?
We love Ravelry (and many other websites devoted to yarn crafts) – but when starting out, it was overwhelming. There is so much information and sometimes you just want to know what you want to know so you can do what you want to do.
Our mission is to make it incredibly easy to find what you need so you can spend more time doing fun stuff. Instead of having tons of bookmarks or forum posts to try and dig through to find answers, we are attempting to build you a resource where if you ask it, you can find it.