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September 2013
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November 2013

In Praise of Ravelry

While this began as a knitting blog, not every reader nowadays is versed in the vast online arena of that craft. So you may not know of Ravelry.com, a website where two million of us browse patterns, show off projects, and log personal databases of tools, books, and yarn. I'm delighted to recall being a reader of young Jess's blog Frecklegirl when she first mentioned that her "codemonkey" honey Casey was toying around with a site that would gather all kinds of useful information for fiber fiends and include social spaces. In a way, Ravelry made knitting blogs obsolete – prompting us to evolve and expand our subject matter if we chose. I could go on and on about its benefits, but if you have any interest, sign up and explore it yourself. I can go there to see that I  have logged 115 projects, queued 114 patterns I might like to knit, and stashed 141 different yarns. (I'm currently unwilling to export that data and discover how many miles of yarn I'm storing!) I can report that as of November 14, 2012, my friend Kay has raised a total of $19,300 donated to Mercy Corps for Japanese tsunami relief through sale of a pattern she designed. But my new sweater-in-progress is the reason I'm posting today.

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This is Jackaroo, from Knitty.com (another site whose praises I sing), which I cast on after using Ravelry to search for the perfect pattern. I had bought this Miss Babs Yowza at the 2011 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, ostensibly for another Knitty pattern, Corinne, but had subsequently changed my mind. So I used Ravelry's search feature to plug in the weight and yardage to find another women's cardigan pattern that was either free or already in my library. More than a hundred options appeared, but I could browse them easily, look at versions other knitters had made, find out what they required in terms of notions, and make an informed choice. Amusingly, I'd put Jackaroo in my Rav queue when the First Fall issue of Knitty came out back in the summer – but I had to consider all my options before committing, and Ravelry made that process easy.

Ravelry also provides "helpful notes" from knitters: members mark each other's projects as offering useful advice, so that when we look at the sweaters that have already been knit, we can get virtual advice from knitters we don't actually know. I made extremely successful use of this feature when I made the Middlefield Pullover, a sweater that I love wearing because it fits like a dream – thanks to Ravelry!