Ravelry

Ravelry has more than 360,000 members, and if you like to knit or crochet, it’s an indispensable tool for networking. The site allows you to explore thousands of patterns, some free (download PDF’s and try them yourself) and some for sale. The ability to see other people’s versions of a pattern is amazing, especially seeing photos that show how the same pattern looks not only in different yarns but on a hundred different people.

The profile feature is helpful as well. I was in a yarn shop recently and wanted to purchase yarn but couldn’t remember exactly how much I needed. I had posted the pattern details on my Ravelry profile, so the shop owner was able to look it up for me and retrieve the information I needed. I also use the favorites feature, to keep track of patterns I see that I like and might work on in the future.

A feature I haven’t used yet is the Stash. Users catalog their spare yarn (always good to know what you have on hand), including extra yarn they’re willing to trade or sell. So, if you start a project and need just one more skein of yarn of a certain dye lot, you may be able to find someone else who has it. Otherwise you’re out of luck.

Of course, Ravelry also has groups for regional get-togethers, and forums to post questions and answers and share discoveries. It’s a great site for connecting with others who share your passion.

-- Audrey Watson  

[Membership is free but you'll need to request an invitation. Invitation requests are typically returned within a day -- ES]

Sample Excerpts:
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Knifty Knitter

The problem I have with regular knitting is getting started. With a hat, for example, I have a lot of trouble getting my size just right and having the first row look neat and not sloppy. Knifty Knitters completely eliminate the size problem and allow you to make the first row just as neat as every other row. Each loom is basically a round circle with pegs on it. Since you are wrapping the yarn on preset pegs, the problem of keeping the stitches the same length is eliminated. I have the round set for hats and the long set, which is mainly for scarves and blankets. Each set comes with four looms. The round set labels the looms by size: baby, child, adult and the largest is either for a big-headed adult or for other projects (like ponchos). They come with directions, which are really easy to follow. I made my first hat while watching a movie. As you work, your hat starts to build up and hang down underneath as you go, which is pretty neat to watch. When it is long enough (the directions tell you how long for different sizes), you use this plastic needle to thread a piece of yarn through the loops at the end and drawstring it tight and tie. Then you use this little hook to pop it off. Done.

I totally recommend these for the serious and the totally not serious crafter. They’re pretty cheap. They’re easy. And even on your first try, you end up with a really good finished product you can wear or give to someone. I have about a dozen friends who have gotten them since my recommendation and all of them are really into them. Even my husband made a hat for his sister’s kid while watching a movie and it came out perfect. The looms are made for thicker yarns, but if you have tons of old thin yarn you can double it up and use two strands as one (or even three) and that makes it so you can do all kinds of color combinations.

I found the long set a tiny bit harder when I got started (i.e. figuring out the corners), but after a few minutes messing with it I was rolling out a scarf. There are other looms I have not tried from Knifty Knitters, like a flower one and a rectangle one, which all make different things. They also have pompom and tassel makers and one that lets you make tube scarves. But there are tons of other things you can do with the same hat loom, too. My friend got a great book from her library; Knifty Knitters’ web site has a few ideas; and I recently found a sock pattern on the Internet and made pair using the smallest loom in the round set. It was way way way easier than it looked and they came out perfect.

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Knitting Without Tears

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Brother Sewing Machine

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Fresh Fruits

-- Krista Wilson Muldoon  

Knifty Knitter
$18

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Provo Craft



Knitting Without Tears

This book is a classic. It is a relatively small instructional book on knitting. It is wonderful because it teaches one how to construct good looking garments without the use of knitting patterns. Her hallmark is a seamless pullover sweater. This book not only delivers quality knitting instruction – it is a great read!

– Mary Cavanaugh

This is not so much a how-to-knit book, though it excels as that, as much as it is a glorious how-to-enjoy, and how to live while knitting book, penned by a remarkable woman who found happiness at the end of her yarns. This short but famous primer is a good place to start knitting for life. I doubt I personally will suddenly pick up needles — although my teenage kids and all their friends have — but nonetheless I did read every page of her instructions with great pleasure.

– KK

 

Knitting Without Tears
Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes
By Elizabeth Zimmerman
1995, 120 pages
$12

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

If you are a habitually tight knitter, try to kick the habit. Loose knitting tends to make your stitches look somewhat uneven, but what of it? Are you trying to reproduce a boughten machine-made sweater? Besides, it is surprising what blocking and a few washings will do to uneven knitting.

I used to think that people in the Olden Days were marvelously even knitters, because all really ancient sweaters are so smooth and regular. Now I realize that they probably knitted just as I do, rather erratically, and that it is Time, the Great Leveller, which has wrought the change – Time and many washings.

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The human being is so constructed that it can be completely covered by a series of shaped tubes. Tailors and dressmakers succeed excellently and skillfully in making tubes out of flat woven material; their achievements are nothing short of marvelous. But we, the humble knitters, can fabricate natural-born tubes by the very nature of our craft of circular knitting. With the techniques of increasing and decreasing at our command, we can shape or even bend the tubes as we will, without seams, gussets, or darts. It is then only a matter of uniting the various tubes by knitting them together, or sometimes weaving them together, and we could, if he desired them, make long-johns for a octopus.

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For a small baby, take 4 ounces of baby wool, work at any GAUGE you feel like, and see what happens. Babies vary so much in size, and grow so fast, that the jacket will be gratefully worn at some period during the first year.

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Caps are quickly made, and invaluable for using up scraps of wool for color patterns and stripes. They are excellent bazaar material, as people will pay more for them than for mittens, and they are quicker and more fun to make. (For me the great drawback to knitting mittens is that, having created one, you have to turn around and copy it exactly, for a pair.)

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Knitting can be solace, inspiration, adventure. It is manual and mental therapy. It keeps us warm, as well as those we like and love. It has existed almost as long as the soft sheep, and in giving us wool they deprive themselves of no more than an uncomfortably warm fur coat in the heat of summer.