Ravelry has become such a household word for knitters —like other web words Google, Facebook, Tweet— that I sometimes forget that not all knitters use the internet. Heck, a lot of people avoid all online social networking sites because of their addictive qualities. I still have to spell it out, no, not revelry, or raverly, r-a-v-e-l-ry.

Some quick facts about Ravelry

  • Started May 2007 by wife and husband team, Jessica and Casey Forbes.
  • A non-technical tidbit: they’re adorable. Here they are, modeling Ravelry merch.
  • It’s a community-driven website for knitters, crocheters, yarn producers, knitwear designers
  • You need to log in to participate, and membership is free
  • At this point (March 4, 2011) there are 1,259,174 users, and at any point in the day there are usually over 3,000 users logged in. In Fall 2009, there were 430,000 users. So the membership has tripled in less than 2 years.
  • A technical tidbit: It’s a Ruby on Rails system. For more technical chit chat, here’s an interview with Casey.

What does it do?

  • Connects knitters and crocheters with each other. Make friends, join groups, participate in forums.
  • Communicates designers’ and crafters’ experiences with materials and patterns. Finished a project? Upload a photo and post your comments.
  • Allows self-publishing designers to sell their patterns online. Ravelry makes this easy and charges a small sales-based fee.
  • Provides targeted advertising space for designers, spinners, yarn stores, crafters.
  • Organizes your resources. Bought a new skein of yarn? Add it to your stash. That yarn’s info (yardage, fiber content, etc) will likely be in the Ravelry yarn database.
  • Helps crafters find suitable patterns. This is a big one for a lot of us. In the Pattern search, you can fine tune your next project by specifying how much yarn you have for the project, how easy you want it to be, techniques you’d like to use, etc.

That’s just a short list, it does so much more…

How do you use it?

If you haven’t already, sign up for membership. It’s easy, free, and quick. You’ll need an email address.

  • Either just start browsing, or if you like, check out the Tour
  • To connect with groups in your area, go to Find groups by location. Join some groups!
  • Check out the patterns. You can see new ones, popular ones, or search for them.
  • Check out the yarn. Read reviews, check out photos.
  • Check out designers. When you see a pattern that you like, click on the designer’s name, see everything else they’ve designed.

My notebook

This is the section of Ravelry that helps you organize, and here are a few of the things you can do there:

  • When you see a pattern, yarn, or project you like and want to bookmark or applaud, click the Add to faves button. It will now show up in your favorites.
  • If you have a lot of yarn (not that I, ehem, have very much yarn, I’m quite, um, frugal, no really) you can keep a handle on what you’ve got by adding it to your stash.
  • Go to the library, click on magazine tab, and add all those crafting magazines. (“All those?” What am I implying? That some of us have a lot?) Then you can click on the picture of the magazine, and see all the patterns that are in there.

And of course, that’s just the beginning. Track your needle inventory, finished projects, count your Ravelry friends..