When there’s Ravelry. Ok, so it’s in beta and you have to get invited but if you’re a knitter… sign up! do it now!
Because, if you’re a knitter, it answers just about every need you’ve ever had. Seriously.
When I were a wee lass back in 1991 and I had my first PDA, a Psion Series 3 ‘Classic’ (a Christmas present from my father – he had no idea, I presume, what he was starting… this was my first computer and is responsible for all ensuing techno-love-joy and me sitting here now) I started making a database of knitting patterns and materials.
But of course. What else was a girl with a Psion to do? Particularly a girl with very few friends to enter in the contacts section. Incidentally, I never met another girl with a Psion. There must have been some, somewhere. I did meet a few males with them but found conversation difficult. But not as much as they did. Anyway, I digress.
I realised that I had two unfortunate habits. One was indiscriminately to buy yarn when- and where- ever I saw it on sale at knock-down prices (thus early on in life building up a truly impressive stash) and the other was to buy large numbers of books and magazines (mostly Rowan) of patterns. What I needed was a sensible way of bringing the two together. Thus was born my personal knitting database.
I was going to enter details of every pattern I had – general type of garment/accessory, name of pattern, name of yarn, equivalent weight (Rowan, for instance, still has a range of exotically-named yarns which don’t at first sight always convey much information about how thick they are), yardage of yarn required for each size, needles, findings etc. I also rated the patterns by difficulty and how much I liked them. Then, the theory went, the next time I bought a cone of 1000g of 5 ply wool at a totally bargainous price I’d actually be able to find something to make out of it.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever inputted lots of data into a database, particularly without knowing what you are doing. If not take it from me it’s a real bind. That may explain why I didn’t get very far. But the idea was an absolute corker.
It’s just one of the many many things Ravelry does/is doing. But instead of one inept novice in the UK cataloguing her books and stash using the technology of 1990s it’s tens of thousands of fanatics across the globe using the social interwebbing magic of the 21st century. So I can, for instance, pop over to their pattern browser, select as many or as few variables as I want and then amble in a leisurely way through pictures of patterns for cardigans for women using 4 ply yarn, clicking for further details on any I like the look of.
How cool is that? Cooler than 0 K, in my opinion.