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Online knitting and crocheting community.

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      20.05.2010 14:20
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      How did I cope before this?!

      Before I start I should explain that Ravelry tops the list of my favourite community websites. Mainly because it pertains to my favourite hobbies, but for many more reasons which I shall discuss here. It is not just a forum. Nor is it just a tool for recording data. It does have these features but the community and supportive environment make the website a real pleasure to use. I've been a member since 2007, and it has just recently been released out of beta, after intensive testing and improvements. Created by Jess, an avid crafter, and Casey, her computer programmer husband, they have built a system that works in it's users best interests, connects people all over the world, inspires the continuation of skilled craftwork, and continues to grow with an impressive number of users. I have not come across anything else which meets these high standards, and frankly, I'm not even inclined to look elsewhere any more.

      Ravelry is mainly designed to serve knitters, crocheters, and weavers. They are in the works for adding further support for other crafts, but these are the main three (and weaving is a relatively new section).
      You can register for a free account by providing your email address and some basic details. There is a profile page that you can embellish or ignore at your own choice. You can upload a photo that will be used as your forum avatar and will be visible to all other users. There's also a fun little questionnaire which can help break the ice and provide other members with links for getting to know you.

      The first main area to familiarise yourself with are the header tabs that run along the top of the page. Within these tabs there are subsections which allow you to input your own specific data and have a complete overview of your information.
      *NOTEBOOK* - This is where you can record the different knitting/crochet/weaving projects that you have made, or have on the go. Everything is interlinked throughout the database, and you can select the exact pattern, yarn, and needles that you are using. There is a space to add notes, tags, ratings, and comments. You may also upload photos, via links to flickr, photobucket, the web, or your computer. Any information you post here will be publically available to other Ravelry members. There are also logs for knitting needles and hook sizes that you have, yarn that you have stashed, books and magazines that you have in your collection, friends, favourites, and links to other parts of the site.
      *PATTERNS* Is a vast collection of pattern references available in books, magazines, online, or through Ravelry's own self-publishing system. The search function here is fantastically detailed and useful, there are drop-down sections to sort patterns by craft, yarn used, cateory, yardage, price, you name it, it can be filtered. This allows for an extremely accurate result when searching or browsing.
      *YARNS* A similar function to patterns, allowing you to search through records of yarn manufacturers, brands, weights, fibre, store location, popularity...
      *PEOPLE* *FORUMS* *GROUPS* This is the social networking side of things. I have grouped them all together as they are extremely interconnected and hopefully you will be making your way round these sections by exploring on your own as well. There are 6 main forums which provide areas for you to talk with other Ravelry users, and there are Groups for every interest and sub-section you could possibly think of. Each group has their own agenda, and can be used for different things. Some are quite formal, some are releaxed, and other are plain ridiculous. The main reason for these is getting people together, and sharing. Whether it be information, tips, links, photos, projects, reviews, this is a mine of information, and you should always be able to find something suitable for you.

      Ravelry is entirely self-funded and they have a store to raise revenue for equipment, staff, and overhead costs. This keeps things free to you, the user! Brilliant. There are occasional fundraising drives, where people can donate as much or as little as they like, and are entirely voluntary. There is a good community spirit and people seem happy to give a little for using something they truly enjoy. Another fabulous thing about Ravelry is that all the information on the databases is provided by volunteers. Anyone can volunteer to be an editor, and these are categorised into yarns, sources (books, magazines, patterns), and "super-mods" who are appointed to have extra functionality available to them. These editors ensure that the information contained within Ravelry is up to date, accurate and reduce errors and duplicates.

      It is an absolutely huge place to explore, and it can feel overwhelming at first. To aid this, there are weekly newsletters, tutorials, help pages and a wiki guide. All in all it is a fabulous experience and I only hope that other can receive as much enjoyment from this as I do.

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        22.04.2010 16:58
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        Worth a visit from anyone interested in this kind of hobby.

        When I found out I was pregnant last year I thought how lovely it would be to be able to make some blankets for the baby. As a child my nan had shown me how to knit but I never quite got the hang of it so I thought my best bet would be to try crocheting. Luckily my Mum was ready to sit down and show me the basics and I have been hooked ever since!

        I came across Ravelry.com when searching for patterns online. I was a little taken aback by how much patterns can cost to buy in the shops so I was really hoping the internet would be my ultimate source for some free patterns. Ravelry is basically an online community for knitters and crocheters which is free to join up and opens up such a helpful portal of information and patterns for those of us keen on home made items.

        What I love about Ravelry is how easy it is to find exactly what you are looking for. What I usually do is search a keyword for the item of clothing or accessory that I want to make and then from there it allows you to break down your search even further from all the many results it comes up with. Once the results have come up for your keyword there are various filters across the top of the page which allow you to narrow down to exactly what you want. You can choose from various things such as yarn, difficulty, rating, sizing, needle size, gauge etc etc! It really is so simple to use and while there are some patterns which you have to pay for, there are a wealth of those which are free and again you can choose to view just the free patterns if this is what you are after. Once you have found something you are interested in then you can click through from there to find out further information and even how other members have rated that item. As a beginner in crochet I have found Ravelry an invaluable source and it has really allowed me to progress in what I am now able to make.

        Of course Ravelry is very much an online community as well and there are forums and groups on the website for like minded people. I have not used this part of the site myself but I am sure that for those hardcore knitters and crocheters it is another great source or even for those of us just starting out who need a little advice from more experienced people.

        If knitting and crocheting is your thing then I would definitely recommend giving Ravelry.com a look. I am sure there is something there to suit everyone no matter what level you are at or what style of things you prefer to make.

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          08.02.2010 13:07
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          Why aren't you a member yet?

          I first picked up knitting needles back in 2004, but after knitting a few squares of acrylic DK from my local craft shop I realised that - though I enjoyed the act of knitting - there was nothing I wanted to make. While I was just about aware of the resurgence in knitting that was starting to take off, there wasn't enough inspiration around for me to keep it up, and besides, I had a lingering suspicion that knitting was just a little too old-fashioned for a twenty-something like me.

          Then last October I decided I fancied having a go at knitting a scarf. I picked up some wool from a charity shop, which was far nicer than the acrylic I'd used first time around. This was Rowan Damask, a variegated turquoise yarn with some texture to it. Armed with my old needles, I went a-googling to refresh my memory on how to actually work the stitches. I learned a lot - my original plan to make the scarf in basic stocking stitch wasn't such a good one because the edges would curl. Instead I learned a new pattern - ribbing - which is perfect for scarves. I discovered formulas for how to work out the best length for your scarf, how to join in a new ball of yarn when the first one runs out, and other things I needed to know to make my scarf. In all this searching I found blogs with beautiful pictures of hand-knitted items - and these weren't the acrylic jumpers of my childhood. Knitting had changed - it was inventive, creative and even - dare I say it - young and alternative.

          And everywhere I went, one word kept coming up - Ravelry. As far as I could tell, Ravelry was basically a place to keep track of your 'stash' - a term familiar to any crafty type as referring to the stockpiles of crafting material we seem to amass. My stash so far consisted of the aforementioned Rowan Damask and a few balls of Ascot Jaeger I'd also picked up from a charity shop, so I didn't see that I would find much use for it. But eventually curiosity got the better of me - why were people so excited about this site?

          Signing up for Ravelry is as easy as any other website - and you do need to be a member to access any part of this website. The home page of Ravelry has the sign in box, plus a description of what the site is. You can use Ravelry to Organise - which confirmed my suspicions, Share - show people what you've made and Discover - find new yarns, patterns, friends and ideas.

          Ravelry membership used to be by invitation only when they were in the beta-testing stage, but it is now open to everyone with no waiting period.

          I still wasn't sure - was I even the target market for this site, given that I was only half way through my first scarf? I could hardly call myself a knitter. Membership name and password at the ready, I set about exploring the site.

          My first feeling was one of being absolutely overwhelmed. The page you log into is simple enough. It is taken up by the most recent Ravelry team blog entries, with a row of tabs along the top that drop down into different options. On the right hand side there is a Quick Search box, links to the Ravelry shop and newsletter, and a box with a title that was a relief to me at that moment 'Help, Help! Where Am I?. This has links to a Getting Started Guide, the Ravelry wiki, a Tour of the site and an About page. This is an absolute godsend - and I learned quite a bit too. Ravelry was only formed in 2007, and since then has grown at a phenomenal rate - which I think shows just how helpful this website is for knitters (and crocheters).

          The first place I explored was the tab along the top called 'my notebook'. This drops down into projects, stash, needles, favourites and all the other organisational parts of Ravelry. I got busy adding my paltry stash to this, which was very easy, and discovered the next part of the site that I have gone on to use a lot - the Yarn pages. I searched for Rowan Damask and found the page that relates to this yarn. From here, I can find comments from other users, basic information about the yarn (that it is DK, what meterage is on a skein, what is the recommended needle size, etc), who else has it in their stash or wants to swap or sell it and - the most fantastic part of Ravelry in my opinion - links to projects by other users who have used this yarn.

          When you search these project pages you get pictures of the finished project, plus comments from the user about their project. This way you can look around and see if you get any ideas of what other people have made using your yarn, get an idea how it looks knitted up, see what problems people have had with it, and generally which projects you like the best!

          And if you find a project you really like, you can add it to your favourites, which you can access from the 'my notebook' tab.

          This was great for me when I was knitting my scarf because my stitches were at times a little 'bumpy'. I discovered that this was a property of the textured yarn rather than my poor skills. I also found out that other, experienced knitters had also had trouble with the yarn being 'splitty', so it was nice to get reassurance that I wasn't doing something wrong.

          You can also search within the projects for all sorts of variables - one that I have found helpful is to search by the yarn's colour number and see the projects that have been knitted with my specific yarn.

          The other main way you can sort the project pages is by pattern. Ravelry has a massive database of patterns - some that are hosted by Ravelry both free and paid for, some that are hosted elsewhere on the internet, and those that are in books and magazines. You won't find the actual patterns on Ravelry that are in books and magazines, but you will see which book it's in, and what other user's finished items look like. If you're thinking about buying a book, you can have a look at the things people have made from that book to help in your decision! Lots of designers now have accounts on Ravelry, so if you like a pattern, you can see what else the designer has done, and even contact them if you're having problems with a pattern.

          I didn't really need a pattern for my scarf. Once I started another project (let's say my hand-knitted socks that I am wearing as I write this!), I was able to look at other projects where people had followed the 'Silver's Sock Class' pattern, see what yarn they had used, what needle size, read their comments about what problems they'd had or any hints and tips and, of course, look at pictures of their finished socks!

          So that's an overview of the pattern and yarn browers - which have so many ways to customise them that I can't cover here. Hopefully you'll now have some idea of what a great site Ravelry is even if there was nothing else to it - this feature is unbelievably useful and inspirational.

          The other major part of Ravelry is the forums. This is structured so that you have four main boards, plus Groups. Usually you can read and post as a guest in groups, but the idea is that you join those that interest you to find like-minded people. These range from specific knitting groups (for example, people who like knitting lots of shawls or socks), those who are fans of specific designers, books or yarn companies, geographical groups to non-knitting related groups. Do you run? Like gardening? Have a religious faith? Love knitting Twilight or Harry Potter related items? Whatever your interests, you are bound to find other users who share them.

          There is so much more I could say about Ravelry - and it is always growing and adding new features. I hope this has given any knitters or crocheters out there enough curiosity to have a look at Ravelry. It really is a fantastic resource. The founders of the site have been very clever in inter-relating everything that can possibly be inter-related so once you get used to the site, it flows really well. Although it can get problematic - I can be browsing a forum one minute, click on a link to someone's project and end up planning which yarn I should use for a different pattern by that designer! It is not good for someone with poor impulse control (like me!). If you have a blog, you can also link specific blog posts to your projects.

          Four months after picking up my knitting needles on a whim, I have my original scarf, a scarf for my OH, a pair of hand-knitted socks each and am almost finished a 'Gail/Nightsongs' shawl (search for this pattern on google - it is beautiful). And I have plans for more - oh yes! I have completed far more complicated projects than I would have even attempted without Ravelry -there is a wealth of advice already there, plus lots of people who are ready and willing to offer encouragement and help you figure out things you're not sure about.

          I don't quite know how I ended up with two drawers stuffed with yarn, a needle roll and interchangeable circular needle sets in my ebay watch-list just four months after getting a whim to knit a scarf, but I think Ravelry has something (alright, a lot!) to do with it!

          ETA: I forgot to mention - Ravelry is completely free. How great is that?

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            18.01.2010 21:49
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            Well worth a look by all people who love knitting and crochet

            This is a great website for knitting and crochet enthusiasts. It is a searchable database for patterns for both knitting and crochet. But not only that it also provides a place for the knitter or crocheter to keep track of all their current and future projects.

            In order to use the website, you must first create a user profile. Once you have done this, then you are able to search the database of patterns which are categorised by what it is you are going to make, ie scarf, toys, jumpers and so on.

            Once you have chosen a category, then a list of available patterns is displayed. You can then go into the advanced search function, which has lots of different filters to choose from. You can choose what craft you want to use, whether you want to pay for the pattern or whether you want it to be free. You can even search by what needles you have and what type of wool you have. The patterns are not actually on ravelry.com but instead ravelry provides a link to the website where the pattern is either listed for free or where you can buy the pattern from.

            Once you have chosen the pattern you want to make, you can then add it to your notebook where it either goes into your queue or into the progress list. Once in your queue, you can schedule a start date and therefore organise the order in which you start the projects. Once started the project's progress can be updated on the site. You can edit lots of details, such as what needles you are using, what yarn you are using, who it is for and can even upload a photo of the finished article onto the website for other people to look at.

            There are other parts to the website, such as a forum and a shop but as of yet, I haven't had the time to look into these parts fully as all my time has been spent searching for projects and then adding them to my list. The list just keeps getting longer and I really need to start finishing some of them!

            This website is a great resource for all knitters and crocheters and is a fantastic way of keeping track of all the projects that you have on the go. I recommend this website for anyone who loves knitting or crochet.

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            07.01.2010 14:15
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            The ultimate resource for knitters and crochet fans

            I went to hen party in the summer where we spent the afternoon learning to knit. I hadn't done any knitting since I was a child and it came back to me straight away - just like riding a bike. By the end of the day we'd made the bride-to-be a blanket. It was full of holes but also full of love and she was very happy!

            I took my new-found enthusiasm for knitting away with me and also a leaflet with a list of useful knitting web links - and one of then was Ravelry.

            Ravelry is the ultimate resource for knitters. To use it you must create a profile - but it's quick and easy and it's worth it. More than half a million people have created accounts - and as result a huge, vibrant community of supportive and creative types all over the world has spawned.

            *Patterntastic*

            For me, the main draw is the massive vault of patterns. These are patterns hosted directly on the site plus links to thousands of patterns elsewhere on the web. The search system is utterly genius. You can search by tag, browse patterns or use the brilliant advanced search. You can filter in so many ways - first you start by selecting whether you want knitting, crocheting or weaving. The you can decide what kind of wool you want to use, how much of it you have, what kind of needles you have, what kind of project you have, how difficult the project is and whether you want a free pattern or you're willing to pay. Phew! Obviously you don't have to use all of these filters but a combination of these will help you find something you'll love to make.

            The range of patterns is incredible too - I'm a big fan of small projects like little animals, cakes and monsters but if you're knitting for children or want to make adults clothing, homeware and accessories then there's plenty for you to choose from too.

            *Crafty to do lists*

            When you've found something you like, this is where your profile/account comes into its own. You can save patterns you like to your projects list or to a queue of things you'd like to make in the future. This makes them easy to find. When you've completed a project you can upload a picture of it and look at pictures of the same project that other people have created. It's a great way to get inspiration for different colour variations on a project or just to get a steer on what the final thing might look like if there's not a picture on the pattern.

            *Yarnaholics*

            If you want more information on certain kinds of yarns you can also plunder the massive yarn database and get more information about it and see pictures of its colour options. You can also search for projects and patterns using this specific wool - great if you have a couple of leftover balls of yarn you want to use up.

            *Community spirit*

            Ravelry is also big on community. There are forums where you can get advice and tips on technique, equipment and generally just talk craft. There are also many, many groups on the site. Some are web-only groups but many are the home of real-life crafting groups (including plenty in the UK) which you can join and attend their meet-ups.

            *Shopportunity knocks*

            Ravely also has a store where you can buy fun knitting-themed gifts and, of course, you can buy patterns (using Paypal). Most are only a couple of dollars but there are many more that are completely free.

            If you're a keen crafter and have patterns that you've created yourself you can also sell these through Ravelry. They will take a small percentage of your proceeds but with such a huge community using the site, it's a sure fire way to make a few quid.

            *Best of the bunch*

            Every time I look at Ravelry I get more and more inspired and excited - inspired by the projects other people have completed and excited at the range of things I can add to my to do list. So whether you're a wannabe knitter or a crochet queen I'd recommend getting yourself a Ravelry account pronto.

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              31.08.2009 12:37
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              If you are a knitter you need to know about this site!

              This is one of my favourite websites ever made! It is invaluable for knitters and crocheters everywhere, with a wealth of information and advice.

              Ravelry is basically a cross between an online encyclopedia and community aimed at the knitting and crocheting community. There is a huge database of knitting patterns drawn from books, magazines and other websites, together with user submitted patterns, which you can browse by pattern type, yarn type, whether free or not free etc. Once you click on to a pattern, you can find out where to get that pattern, view other users projects who are working or have worked on that same pattern, or ask for help from other users on the forum. You can also look at yarns used for that pattern, allowing you to substitute a different yarn for that quoted in the pattern where that yarn is unavailable in your country or just plain too expensive!

              There is also an extensive yarn database where users can rate different yarns, and sell or swap it. Add to this tons of different groups and forums, and you have yourself an online community of other knitters! You can use this latter function to find a knitting group closer to home!

              The site also allows you to make queues of patterns, select favourite patterns or projects, and if you are a big enough geek like me, you can also catalogue your yarn stash and needles, and of course you can show off your finished projects to the (ravelry) world. The site also allows you to put an RSS feed to your blog in your profile if you have one, enabling you to market it to other knitters.

              All in all this is a great site, it's user friendly, and I wish I had thought of it!

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