Ravelry Tutorial: Searching For A Pattern

Ravelry is a great place to search for patterns. The most helpful part is selecting different search parameters. In this tutorial we’ll go through a sample search. We’ll search for a sweater pattern that uses worsted weight yarn, uses between 900 and 1200 yards, is for a child aged 4 to 12 and is available for free.

  1. Go to Ravelry and log in if you aren’t already.
  2. Go to the top of the page and arrow down to find the “Patterns” link. Press enter.
  3. This will take you to the pattern search page. You can also browse for patterns but today we’re going to search. Type “sweater” in the search field and press enter.
  4. This will bring up your preliminary results. Navigate to the first heading. It will read “Search.” Now use your screen reader’s find next text command once. It should land on the number of search results. I got 22,884 so we definitely need to narrow it down a little.
  5. Arrow down until you find the drop box with the words “Jump to filter.” Below this box is a list of all the different search options. They are all the same as what is listed in the drop box. When you select a filter from the drop box it will move that set of options to the top of the list. You will have to go back to the drop box each time you need to select another filter because when you press enter or tab out of the box your cursor moves to the bottom of the filter you chose. The drop box will be the first form field from the top of the page so it’s not hard to find.
  6.  Select “Weight” from the drop box and press tab to exit the box. You can arrow up through the choices or go back to the drop box and arrow down to get them in the right order. Either way, press enter on “Worsted 10-Ply”. The numbers after the choices tell how many matching patterns Ravelry has for this filter.
  7. Now select “Yardage” from the drop down box. If you have any trouble finding where you are after you tab out of the box, just remember that the drop box is the first form field from the top of the page, and the filter you just chose is immediately after it. Now press enter on “900-1200 yards”.
  8. Go back to the drop box and Select “Gender/Age/Size/Fit”. This filter requires you to select a sub-filter before you can make your choice. Press enter on “Age or Size”. Then press enter on “Child (4–12)”. You can press escape to close the sub-filter options if you are going to be arrowing around a lot but it’s not necessary.
  9. Now find the drop box for the last time and select “Availability”. Either arrow up to find “Free” or go back to the drop box and arrow down. Press enter on “Free”.
  10. Now that your search has been narrowed down you can get your results. After selecting the last filter, your cursor should be at the top of the search results. If you arrow down, you will find a list of the filters you chose followed by your search results. If you get lost on the page go to the top and use your screen reader’s find next text command to find the words “Search Results for Sweater” and arrow down from there.

 

Keep in mind that you can select as many or as few search parameters as you like. Also, pressing enter on the pattern name will take you to the Ravelry pattern page. This page has a lot of information about the pattern that can include yardage, available sizes. Gauge and suggested yarn. You will also find a link to the pattern source.

After the pattern details you will find the following links: Cast On, Add to Faves, To Queue. Selecting “Cast On” Will add this pattern as a new project in your notebook. Select this if you want to start the project right away. “Add to Faves” adds this pattern to a list of things you like. “To Queue” adds the pattern to a list of patterns you want to do in the future.

Have fun looking through the patterns. I’ll be back soon with another Ravelry tutorial.

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Asking Stitchers and Counting Rows

Blindness brings on the most interesting problems. They’re never the sorts of things sighted people think: I can get dressed, clean my house, go to work, and eat just fine, and I deal with other people’s lack of imagination as routinely though rarely as successfully. The problems tend to be in the little things, in the details, where the devil lies, as some would have it. Row counting is a prime example.

I can knit complex lace work while listening to a literary novel I plan to teach or discuss with one of my English teacher friends, but keeping track of which row I’m on, aside from simply observing the pattern, is not so easy. Commercial row counters don’t really work because they have either no tactile markings or tactile markings that are so small they’re hard to distinguish even with super blind fingers. So for ideas, I turned to my yarn council.

The Blind Stitchers Google group is fantastic. I learn a lot from the other yarn crafters on the list. Tips range from the practical to the truly inspired. Here’s a list of row counter substitutes they came up with during several discussions on the subject.

• Add coins or can tabs to a container or baggy.
• Count out X number of pieces of candy and eat one after every row.
• Make little tears along the edge of an index card.
• Move pegs on a cribbage board or Scrabble tray.
• Place one safety pin in hem of shirt or arm of couch for every row.
• Place strings or safety pins in work to mark repeats or X number of rows.
• Slide (Braille) Tags or can tabs on a ring.
• Slide Beads on a string or bracelet.
• Use Brynolf Pocket Counter (discontinued).
• Use abacus.
• Use cell phone app.
• Use PDA (write down the row you are on, deleting and changing the number with each row).
• Use Scorekeeper from American Printing House for the Blind.

You Do What You Do

I love making baby blankets. It’s really gratifying to give a handmade blanket to an expectant or new mother when you know she really appreciates the time you put into it.

Recently, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for two new baby blankets. One is for a friend in Charlotte. This one isn’t too hard; I’m just waiting to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. I have a couple patterns picked out to choose from as soon as I know.

The second one is for my closest cousin who is having a girl this summer. I crocheted a Blanket for her first born 8 years ago. He used his blanket so well that it was eventually full of holes. She patched it for a while but soon it was a hopeless mess. The same thing happened to the blanket I made for her daughter 3 years ago. Now, in hindsight it occurs to me that maybe I shouldn’t have used the exact same yarn and basically the same pattern if I wanted the second one to last longer. One of my favorite sayings is, “You do what you do, and you get what you get.” Basically, you can always expect the same results from the same actions.

This time, I’m trying to be a little smarter about it. I still want to crochet the blanket for the sake of continuity and it can’t take too long to make. I have my own new baby and not as much time these days. I think I’ll double strand the yarn and make the gauge a little tighter. I’ll also give my cousin some special washing instructions.

I spent some time looking for a pattern that might fit all these criteria and it really just takes too long sometimes. I decided it would be much more interesting and fun to make up my own pattern. I have the basic idea in my head already so I’ll probably get started tonight.

I’ll keep track as I go and share the pattern after I give the blanket to my cousin. Maybe this one will last longer but if it doesn’t, that’s ok too. At least I know it will be loved and appreciated.

Ravelry Tutorial: Adding A Project

One of my favorite Ravelry features is the project page. You can add a project and include details that might be needed later. What size needles did I use on that pair of socks that fit so well? Which pair of needle tips was I using on that sweater before I took them for something else? Which yarn did I use to make that cuddly baby blanket? If you keep track of your projects with Ravelry, all these questions and more can be answered easily.

You can also view other people’s projects on Ravelry. If someone else has made the same sweater you are working on, you can see what they did and read their notes about the project. This can be helpful if you run across a tricky spot or something doesn’t seem quite right. I usually glance through the completed projects before I start something new to see if there are any common problems to watch for.

In this post, I’ll explain how to add a project and share a few tips for adding the details for your project.

Adding A Project

 

1-      Go to Ravelry and log in if you’re not already.

2-      Go to the top of the page and arrow down until you find the link that says, “My Notebook” and press enter.

3-      Use your screen reader to find the link that says ”Add Project” and press enter. You can use the links list or spend some time exploring to find the link. It will be in the list of things under the first heading.

4-      The first page that comes up allows you to name your project and link to Ravelry’s pattern database. First, type the project name into the form field. This can be whatever you want it to be. You will also be able to change it later if you want.

5-      Now select the specific craft for this project.

6-      Check the box before the source for your pattern.

7-      In the next form field, type the name of the pattern you used. Try to make it as close to the actual pattern name as possible. Ravelry is going to do a search so you can link to the pattern in their database.

8-      Type the name of the pattern source in the last form field. You can leave this blank if you want but it will help to find the pattern if it has a generic name.

9-      Press the continue button.

10-   Now you will be on the pattern search page. The name of the pattern you typed on the last page will be automatically filled in the search box. Arrow down past the search button and you will find the list of patterns that have already been pulled up. Click on the link after the correct pattern that says “Choose This Pattern.” If it doesn’t show up right away you can change the text in the search box to try again.

Adding Project Details

 

Once you’ve linked to the pattern in Ravelry’s database you will be on your project page. On this page you can add as many or as few details as you would like. The form fields are self-explanatory. The only part I’ve found inaccessible lately is where you enter the needle size. When I click on “Add Needle” nothing happens. The same thing happens when I click on the “Add Yarn” link but if I save changes and come back to edit details, the form fields for the yarn details show up so don’t click on these more than once unless you want to add more than one yarn. The “Add Needle” link used to work the same way but something has changed. I’ll contact Ravelry to try to get something done about it and I’ll update this post if anything changes. In the meantime, I just make a note of the needle size in the notes section.

You can also link to Ravelry’s yarn database the same way you linked to the pattern database. Enter the name of the yarn in the yarn form field and tab to the next link and press enter. Then click on the name of the yarn you want to link to. This will automatically fill in the details for the yarn. You can add additional information like the color way, how many skeins you used and purchasing details.

One last note is about finding the drop boxes to fill in the start and finish dates for your project. These drop boxes are found after the “Save Changes” button so arrow down to add these details. Also remember that you can leave anything you don’t want to fill out blank.

Ravelry is a very large website so please don’t get discouraged if you have trouble finding what you want at first. Spend some time looking around to learn what there is on each page. I could explain exactly what is on every page but we would be here all day and it would take all the adventure out of it. Have fun exploring and I’ll be back soon with more posts to help.

The Touch of Yarn

Contributed by Davey Hulse

Crystal and Ana have really honored me by asking that I write a bit about my book “The Touch of Yarn, Beginner Knitter’s Primer”. 

The first question you should be asking is:  Are you blind or just another sighted author trying to teach us something.  I’m totally blind and have been since grade school.  So, I’m one of us.

Most people ask why I wrote it, and the simple answer is:  Because when I started knitting around Labor Day of 2007, I couldn’t find a set of instructions or book that really spelled out each step in absolutely clear terms.  How do you hold the needles?  How do you control the yarn?  What’s a stitch?  Where do I set the ball of yarn to keep it under control?  Oh, and what’s a ball of yarn?  The stuff in the store looks more like a tube or a disk!

So, once I picked enough brains and did enough trial and error, I got the basic skills under my belt.  Then as new people joined our blind knitter group, I started trying out my skill at explaining things is simple, straight forward language so that there couldn’t be any mistake what I meant.  It worked.

And, so, the Touch of yarn was born. 

The other thing was that in all the instructions, no one gave any real guidance about sorts of projects that would bring success quickly, and I know that for myself if I don’t have success pretty quickly, I get frustrated.  That’s why every chapter and lesson has its own project that can be done within a couple or three hours, long enough to learn the skill but quick enough so that the project is done and the student can move on. 

I’d watched many first-time knitters take on a scarf with ordinary worsted weight yarn on medium sized needles.  That’s a project that is somewhere around nine or ten thousand stitches.  When a person is just learning it’s going to take a minute or so for every five or six stitches.  Fifteen hundred minutes or twenty-five hours is way too long for a first project.  No wonder in many of the bags of yarn I buy at the thrift store there are obvious scarf projects done by beginners.  They get bored and frustrated and give up.

Before I started writing the book, I thought my audience was going to be low vision and blind knitters.  But when I started having friends and family use the lessons, my sighted family members were really excited.  My daughter wrote in her blog that the typical lesson book with all its pictures just confused her and that for the first time knitting instructions were making sense.  A special ed teacher who had also been a mentor for a youth knitting guild was extremely complimentary and said that she wanted to use it for her sighted kids.

So, what can you learn from the book?  And, what kinds of projects can you get done?

It will take you through what I call advanced beginner skills.  Can you knit up a fancy scarf?  Yes.  Can you knit up a sweater using cables?  Yes.  Can you sew stuff together?  Yes.  Can you fix things when you make mistakes?  You bet. 

And, there’s enough in the book that if you are adventurous and creative, you can even take a pattern from the Internet and modify it to make it truly your own thing of beauty. 

Within a month I hope to have my own website up and have the hard copy in standard print, large print and Braille in 8.5 by 11 and 11 by 11.5 up for sale. 

And, Ana or crystal can get you in touch if you want a hard copy quicker.

I’m not much of a self-promoter and it feels awkward for me to sort of hawk my wares to you, but I’d really love you to be able to knit and to have the sort of success that I’ve had.  At my granddaughter’s third birthday I gave her a hooded sweater that I had knit up.  It was just as gratifying to hear the adults in the room muttering, “You made that,” as it was to have the little sweetie put it on, say “It fits,” and come over and hug me.  Also, when my Mom suffered a heart attack, I knit up an afghan and got it to her for comfort and her naps during her recovery.  Later she said she used it every day.  And, my 90-year-old father has one of the first large pieces I made draped across the back of his computer chair where he uses it every morning while he looks at family blogs, email, and at pictures of his great grandchildren. 

And, of course, I can’t count the number of smiles I’ve had as I feel one or another of the many scarves and shawls I’ve made my wife as she wears them. 

So, come along and join me in this wonderful, addictive and creative art form.

Davey Hulse, Salem, Oregon

To Purchase a hard copy of Davey’s book go to The Touch of Yarn.

To read a sample excerpt from The Touch of Yarn please download this pdf.

The Touch of Yarn Excerpts

Born To Knit

Contributed by Marjorie Arnott

I generally tell people when they ask me how I learned to knit that I was born with a pair of knitting needles in my hands instead of a silver spoon!!        

I was born in a tiny village in the North of Scotland where most of the menfolk worked on fishing boats, etc. so it was very common for the womenfolk of the village to make warm aran style sweaters for their husbands, brothers and uncles who spent a lot of time at sea under very cold conditions.

I could make simple garter stitch scarves or squares by the time I was six years old. However, I went to the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh when i was 13 years old and we had the most fantastic knitting teacher. Up until then I thought I was a relatively good knitter, but Miss Duffin taught me so much. We were having a class end of term exam so as my sister just had a little girl i decided I would make a little dress, my first major project. When Miss Duffin began checking our work she called me over and told me I had done excellent work, but there was one tiny flaw. She took my hand and showed me the tiniest of knots in the yarn almost at the bottom of the skirt. She made me take the whole dress back and do it again. As you can imagine I was not a happy camper but I learned a lot from that experience. If you want to do a job well, don’t try and hide anything. Miss Duffin was not only blind but she was deaf too; yet she taught us so much.

Being an avid knitter, over the years I have found it extremely difficult and frustrating to have patterns put into braille for my convenience; so when I decided to purchase a braille embosser, I thought it would be well worthwhile to compile several pattern books and try to help other people who, I am sure, have been in the same situation as I have been on many occasions. Therefore, I compiled several books with interesting patterns and designs I had collected over the years. They come from far and wide: as far away as Australia and Scotland and several of these patterns have been designed by friends themselves.

Although I don’t crochet, I feel there is a market for crochet books as well as knitting books, so a couple of friends have kindly helped me to put some books together, in the hope that you will find  something of interest to whet your appetite.

I started this very small brailing business 12 years ago, never thinking I would still be doing it today, All because I decided to purchase a Braille embosser instead of a Perkins brailler. Which, incidentally, was the same price as the embosser since I got the embosser from someone who was trying to find a good home for it.

Marjorie Arnott
         msarnott@q.com

Marjorie’s books are available in braille and electronic formats. To get more information or to request a catalog. Please contact Marjorie with the above e-mail address.

So-You-Can-Stick-Your-Fingers-Out Mittens

Contributed by Karen Shrade

These are seed stitch mittens with a flap above the palm. I designed them this way because I am lazy. There is no picking up stitches, no button or buttonhole, and no curling problem when you work them flat with two straight needles.

If you want to do them circularly, the numbers don’t change. The top shaping is different, though: you just do a double decrease at the beg and at the halfway point on every other round. Otherwise, it works the same.

I tried them out this weekend and they work quite well. I could slip my fingers out, use a key, or snap my hood, and then retract my fingers quickly into the warmth.

The pattern is written out for women’s mittens, but notes for men’s mittens are included at the bottom.

Materials:
• Worsted weight yarn. I got 2 mittens (easily) out of a 100 g. skein. I used Karen Simply Soft for my first try and then Encore Colorspun for the second. Both worked fine. The colorspun seems a little lighter, though.
• Size 4 (3.5 mm)and 6 (4.5 mm) needles.
• 2 Stitch holders and 2 ring markers

Gauge: Approximately 4 sts to the inch in seed stitch with size 6 needles, but it isn’t critical.

Single Rib Stitch pattern
Row 1: * K1, p1 *.
Row 2: * P1, k1 *.

Seed stitch Pattern
All rows: k1, *p1, k1 *.

With size 4 ndls and worsted weight yarn, cast on 36 sts and single rib for 20 rows (or more if you want a longer cuff).

Change to size 6 ndls and k 1 row, decreasing 1 st at center (35 sts).

Work 9 rows of seed st (or more if you want a longer cuff).

Start the thumb gusset

First row (RS): work 17 sts in seed st, place marker, (p, k, p) into the next st, place marker, work 17 sts in seed st.

Next row: (Keeping in seed stitch pattern) Work 17, slip marker, , p1, k1, p1 slip marker, work pattern to end.

Next row: Work 17, slip marker, inc in the first and last stitch between markers (keeping seed stitch pattern), work pattern to end.

Next row: Work 17, slip marker, k1, (p1, k1) twice, slip marker, work pattern to end.

Continue in this manner till you have 13 sts between the markers. Then work one wrong side row even.

Thumb:

First row (RS): Work 18, slip 11 sts to a holder, work to end.

Next row: work 17, p2 tog, work to end.

Start the flap:

First row for right mitten (RS): Work 19, slip next 15 sts to another holder, turn and cast on 17 stitches, k1. You have 37 sts on the needle.

First row for left mitten (RS): k1, slip 15 stitches to a holder, turn and cast on 17, seed st to end.

For both mittens: At each end of the cast on section you will work 2 sts together. This keeps it nice and neat.
For the left mitten, work 19, p2 tog, work 13, p2 tog, k1.
For the right mitten, k1, p2 tog, work 13, p2 tog, finish in seed stitch.

Now, work on these 35 sts in seed stitch. When 20rows are complete, place markers on each side of the center purl stitch.

Top of mitten

Dec row 1 (RS): K1, k2tog, (p1, k1) to 3 sts before first marker, k2 tog, k1; Slip marker, p1, slip marker; k1, k2 tog, (p1, k1) to last 3 sts, k2 tog, k1: 4 sts decreased.
Dec row 2: K2, (p1, k1) to last st before marker, k1; slip marker, p1, slip marker; k2, (p1, k1) to last st, k1.
Dec row 3: K1, p2 tog, (k1, p1) to 3 sts before marker, p2 tog, k1; slip marker, p1, slip marker; k1, p2 tog, (k1, p1) to last 3 sts, p2 tog, k1
Dec Row 4: Work in seed stitch even, k1, (p1, k1) to end.
Rep these four rows 3 times: 11 sts rem.

Last row: (K2 tog) twice, sl1, k2 tog, psso, (k2 tog) twice: 5 sts.

Cut yarn and thread through these sts, pulling up tight and fastening off.
Now, go back to the flap stitches. Put them back onto a size 6 needle, and join yarn. Work 14 rows of seed stitch, this time starting and ending with a p stitch. Bind off loosely. Sew the flap to the inside of the mitten. Then sew the side seam of the mitten.

Return to the 11 thumb stitches, and work 12 rows. You will start and end with P1. Last thumb row: K2 tog twice, sl1, K2 tog, Psso, K2 tog twice: 5 sts. Cut yarn and thread through these stitches, pulling tight. Sew seam.

Notes for a Man’s mitten

For a man’s mitten, cast on 40 stitches and rib for 25 rows.

Dec 1 st at center of next row for 39 stitches. You will work the mitten the same way as above.

Thumb gusset will inc to 15 sts and the thumb will be worked on 13 sts.

The flap is worked on 17 sts.

You have to work dec rows 1 and 2 again for the top shaping.

This mitten fit my husband.

I hope you like the mittens.

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