Finding and saving patterns on Ravelry

When our Yarn Doctors are out and about on our stands at craft shows, one of the regular questions that people ask is “where can I find patterns?”.

There are a number of answers including a wide range of knitting and crochet magazines, and browsing the pattern leaflets at your local yarn shop. Your local yarn store owner will no doubt have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of patterns available, but if you still can’t find what you are looking for, another useful tool is Ravelry.com.

ravelry pattern search

Ravelry, the online knitting and crochet community, has a database with over 400,000 knitting and 200,000 crochet patterns including patterns from books, leaflets and magazines. Most entries include a picture or several, yarn and needles details and where to find the pattern (for example the leaflet number or magazine edition, and whether it is available online).

ravelry pattern searchYou can just browse popular patterns on the site but several hundred thousand options would take a while, so Ravelry has created a range of filters to help you find what you are looking for.

To narrow down you search you can choose different types of pattern in terms of knitting versus crochet, clothing or other projects, size, and yarn weight etc.

You can also choose options such as types of colour work, whether there are lace or cables, and even styles of pattern such as written versus charts.

As you make your choices the range of patterns reduces until you have a manageable number to browse.

You can also use the search box to look for patterns using a particular yarn or brand or from a particular source.

For example in the screengrab below, you can see a search for UK Hand Knitting which has brought up images for our baby patterns. I could further narrow down my search by clicking to only search for patterns using 4ply and including preemie sizes.

ravelry pattern search

I could also have searched for a particular yarn that I have in my stash to find patterns using it.

Once you have picked out a pattern you might want to make, you can save it to your “queue” – a list of patterns you like on your own account, which is very handy because it is easy to find the pattern again. Below I’m saving the particular UK Hand Knitting pattern I want to use  – now I have the details for when I’m ready to buy and use it.

ravelry pattern queue

The queue function also comes in handy when you spot a pattern in a magazine or book, or even in a pattern selection in a shop, that you might want to make in the future.

For example, it can be very frustrating flicking through a pile of magazines trying to remember where you saw that perfect cabled sweater. But if you search for the sweater on Ravelry and add it to your queue it will be much easier to find it in the future (as long as you keep the magazine). And if the pattern isn’t yet in the database, there are straightforward instructions to help you add it so you, and others, can track it down again in the future.

It can take a little bit of organisation to start your queue but once you have it, it is easy to browse all the things you want to knit and find where to access the patterns.

Greenery is the colour…

Every year the colour specialists at Pantone choose their colour of the year which the company says is “a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude”.

greenery-swatch

The Pantone choice is quite influential with lots of stylists and buyers using it in their work and because the people who select it look at lots of sources including the fashion catwalks over the past year.

This year the colour is “Greenery” described as: “A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”

But don’t despair if green isn’t your thing. Pantone doesn’t expect us all to be clad head to toe in green sitting on green chairs. It produces a page of different colour combinations that work with its chosen colour like this one.

pantone-color-of-the-year-2017-color-palette-1

But to reflect the colour of the year we’ve put together this selection of leafy yarns.

 

Dealing with a knot in your yarn

One of the things that irritates most knitters is finding a knot in their yarn.

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While there may be occasions when you find more than one knot suggesting a problem, in general finding a knot will be a rare happening, however annoying.

Those rare knots are the result of how yarn is produced using long continuous threads. This can be difficult to maintain and occasionally the yarn will break. It will be joined with a small knot to keep the production process going.

This means that once in a while you will come across a knot that needs to be dealt with. If you are knitting stocking stitch with a DK or thicker yarn it may be possible to just keep knitting and ensure the knot sits on the wrong side.

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But if you are working in a textured stitch pattern like in the swatch pictured, or lace, finer yarns and reversible patterns this is not an option. The best option is to cut out the knot and treat the rest of the ball the same way as if you were joining in a new yarn or ball.

If you can it is neatest to make the join at an edge, but if you are working in the round or find the knot half way into a row of 200 stitches, you might not see that as an option. In which case you should stop knitting when there is 10 to 15cm of yarn to the knot. Cut the knot and then leaving another 10cm tail. Knit two or three stitches using both the tail of the “old” yarn and the “new” yarn and then continue using the new yarn only.

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You can weave in the ends after a couple of rows or when you make up the piece.

Another option would be to cut out the knot and split splice your yarn instead of joining in as above.

Whatever approach you take, remember that knots are a rare occurrence and that they shouldn’t spoil you knitting.

New year yarn clear out

When we asked on social media if you were planning to make any yarn or crafting-related resolutions for 2017, a number of people mentioned having a stash clear out or tidy.

For me that would produce a lot of orphaned single skeins or balls of yarn left over from projects and a great many more half balls. Usually once I have cleared these into a box or bag, I find myself wondering what to do with them – and I’m sure that other people have had the same problem.

It is easy for your stash to become disorganised over time

To help, UK Hand Knitting will sometimes collect your left over yarn for a charity when we are at a big event, but because we have other things coming up in the next few months we haven’t any plans to do that for while. However, we do have some other ideas for you.

  • Charity knitting groups – you may find that a knitting group near you has a charity project to produce preemie baby hats or squares for blankets and would happily take some yarn off your hands. My last box went to a hospital knitting group making Twiddlemuffs for dementia patients. Check our knitting group directory as a starting point.
  • Schools and Craft Clubs may be interested in receiving yarn to teach kids knitting and other skills. One place to start to find a school or club is via the Craft Council’s Craft Club initiative.
  • Care homes – some care homes have craft activities for residents. Why not contact local homes to see if they are interested in your yarn.
  • Freecycle – I’ve advertised yarn oddments to giveaway in my local freecycle group. Mine went to an art project.
  • Scrapstore – this is an initiative that collects unwanted craft materials from indviduals and businesses and makes them available to schools and voluntary organisations at a fraction of normal costs. Many Scrapstores also have shops open to the public selling high quality art and craft materials from glue to paintbrushes to complement the scrap. There are Scrapstores all over the UK and you can use the organisation’s directory to find your nearest branch.

Wherever you choose to find a home for your excess yarn, it will feel good that it will be used and appreciated by someone else.

 

 

Know your yarn: Acrylic

Continuing with our occasional look at the different yarns and fibres we can use in our knitting and crochet, we take a look at acrylic yarns which are particularly good for homewares and items that need to be durable

Where does this yarn come from?

Acrylic yarns are made of man-made fibres which are created from petroleum-based polymers – in other words acrylic yarns come from oil.

The fibres are created by drawing long strands of the polymer through small holes. The strands are cut to particular lengths depending on how the final yarn is to behave and is washed and stretched before it is ready for spinning.

Acrylic yarn is produced in both ecru which is dyed later and in coloured forms.

It can be used on its own for knitting yarns or combines with wool or other fibres.

Clockwise from top left: King Cole Riot DK (70% acrylic, 30% wool) http://www.kingcole.com/knitting-wool/riot-dk/: DY Choice Basics DK Spray (100% acrylic) http://www.designeryarns.uk.com/yarn/basics-dk-spray/ : Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed (77% acrylic, 20% alpaca, 3% viscose) http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Alpaca+Tweed/0_caea525_CAFA092.htm : Wendy Festival Chunky (100% acrylic) http://www.tbramsden.co.uk/catalog/yarns/wendy-fashion/wendy_festival_chunky : James C Brett Top Value DK (100% acrylic) http://www.jamescbrett.co.uk/yarn/top-value-dk : Rico Melange Chunky (53% wool, 47% acrylic) http://www.rico-design.de/en/hand-knitting/winter/creative-melange-chunky.html:  Sirdar Crofter DK (60% acrylic, 25% cotton, 15% wool) http://www.sirdar.co.uk/yarns/classics/dk/Crofter%20DK

Clockwise from top left: King Cole Riot DK (70% acrylic, 30% wool): DY Choice Basics DK Spray (100% acrylic): Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed (77% acrylic, 20% alpaca, 3% viscose): Wendy Festival Chunky (100% acrylic): James C Brett Top Value DK (100% acrylic): Rico Melange Chunky (53% wool, 47% acrylic): Sirdar Crofter DK (60% acrylic, 25% cotton, 15% wool)

Properties

  • Lightweight compared to wool, so you can make a garment from fewer balls of yarn
  • Durable and machine washable. This makes it a great choice for homewares and kids knits, because dealing with spills and stains is not a big issue
  • Non-allergenic (if not in a blend) because it has no animal
  • Can be blended with any natural fiber resulting in the best of both worlds
  • An acrylic garment will retain moisture more than a wool which makes 100% acrylic yarn less suitable for garments and accessories exposed to some weather conditions

Tips for working with acrylic yarns

Think about what sort of projects you want to use acrylic for and consider wool and acrylic blends. In particular use it for kidswear, homewares and blankets, all of which will benefit from its strengths.

Some people prefer to use wood or metal hooks and needles with acrylic yarn rather than plastic ones.

What is your favourite pattern for acrylic yarn – please tell us in the comments below.

 

 

 

Know your yarns: Alpaca

Continuing with our occasional look at the different yarns and fibres we can use in our knitting and crochet, we turn to alpaca which is soft, cosy and drapes beautifully.

Where does the yarn come from?

Alpaca yarn comes from the fleeces of alpacas, a South American camelid related to Llamas. The animals originate in the Andes but are increasingly bred and farmed in Europe.

Although, due to selective breeding, the most common colour is white, fleeces come in 22 natural colours including black, browns, fawns, silver-greys, and rose-greys.

huacaya alpaca

There are two types of alpaca – huacaya (pictured) and suri. The huacaya’s fibre grows vertically out of its skin in crimped bundles with what is described as a “teddy bear” look. Suri fibre grows in bundles that twist and hang down on the animal.

The huacaya fibre is more akin to wool and produced in a similar way through carding and spinning. Suri fibre is silkier and is the more likely to be used in woven fabric.

Properties

  • Alpaca is softer than sheep’s wool because the fibre has fewer scales.
  • Alpaca has no lanolin which means it is suitable for people who have allergies to sheep’s wool
  • Durable, strong fibre that is very lightweight
  • Huacaya yarn has a natural elasticity making it very suitable for knitting and crochet.
Alpaca yarn

Clockwise from top left: King Cole Baby Alpaca DK (100% alpaca); Juniper Moon Farm Herriot Fine (75% alpaca, 25% polyamide); Subline Fine Alpaca DK (100% alpaca); Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed DK (20% alpaca, 77% acrylic, 3% viscose); Wendy Aspire Chunky ( 80% wool, 20% alpaca); Rico Essentials Alpaca Blend Chunky (50% acrylic, 30% wool, 20% alpaca); James C Brett Aztec Aran ( 90% acrylic, 10% alpaca)

 Tips for working with alpaca yarn

Alpaca will stretch or drop so you may want to work to a tighter tension than you would for wool of the same yarn weight. Alpaca/wool blends will have more memory and keep their shape more.

Choose patterns for items with lots of drape.

Because alpaca is warmer than wool, you can choose a lighter weight yarn and still have a very warm garment.

What is your favourite pattern for alpaca yarn – please tell us in the comments below.

 

 

 

Know your yarn: Bamboo

Bamboo

Continuing with our occasional look at the different yarns and fibres we can use in our knitting and crochet, we are thinking about bamboo sourced viscose which is now turning up in more “winter yarns” as well a lightweight summer ones.

Where does the yarn come from?

Bamboo is a fast growing plant and the fibre is promoted as being more environmentally friendly that other forms of viscose because the plant can be grown in marginal areas unsuitable for some other plants and doesn’t necessarily involve deforestation.

The fibre is extracted in one of two ways. Leaves and the inner pith of woody stems are extracted during a steaming process and then crushed. The second method involves the bamboo being crushed and then broken down by bacteria or natural enzymes in a retting and washing process similar to how linen is produced from flax.

Once the fibres have been extracted they are spun into a viscose thread or yarn.

Note that when you see viscose in the yarn composition information on a label it may mean bamboo or another plant fibre so it is important to check elsewhere on the label to see if bamboo is mentioned.

Properties

  • Fabric knitted from bamboo yarn has a shiny appearance and drapes well.
  • Softer than cotton
  • Durable, strong fibre
  • Breathable and cool, with some UV protection.
  • Absorbs dye well
  • Is biodegradable
  • Bamboo has some anti-bacterial properties making it popular for inclusion if sock yarn and baby garments
Sirdar Snuggle Baby Bamboo DK 80% Bamboo sourced viscose, 20% Wool soft with sheen http://www.sirdar.co.uk/yarns/babyYarns/dkBaby/Snuggly_Baby_Bamboo_DK_F071 ; King Cole Bamboozle 48% Bamboo, 44% Wool, 8% Acrylic – chunky thick and thin http://www.kingcole.com/knitting-wool/bamboozle/ ; Louisa Harding Pitturissimo 75% Fine Merino Wool and 25% Bamboo viscose http://www.designeryarns.uk.com/yarn/pitturissimo/ ; Rico Superba Bamboo 4 Ply 50% Merino Wool, 25% Bamboo, 25% Nylon variegated sock http://www.rico-design.de/en/hand-knitting/rico-socks/rico-socks

Clockwise from top left: Sirdar Snuggle Baby Bamboo DK (80% bamboo sourced viscose, 20% wool) is soft with a sheen; King Cole Bamboozle (48% bamboo, 44% wool, 8% acrylic) is a thick and thin chunky yarn; Louisa Harding Pitturissimo (75% fine merino wool, 25% bamboo viscose) has a soft drape; Bamboo is popular in sock yarns such as  Rico Superba Bamboo 4 Ply (50% merino wool, 25% bamboo, 25% nylon)

Tips for working with bamboo yarn

Bamboo yarn can split do you may find wooden or bamboo needles a better choice than very pointed metal ones. The fact it is a slippery yarn may be another reason to avoid metal needles.

Garments knitted with bamboo fibre may drop (this will depend on whether it is blended with other fibres and which these are) so you may want to hang your swatch up with a couple of clothes pegs on the bottom edge to see if it stretches. You can then bear that in mind when looking at the length of your garment.

Choose patterns with drape to benefit from bamboo’s qualities or use yarns where bamboo is blended with other fibres for a firmer fabric.

What is your favourite pattern for bamboo yarn – please tell us in the comments below.