I’ve mentioned Ravelry occasionally on my website, but you may not understand its relationship to my travels. If you are not interested in fiber arts, you might not even know what Ravelry is. I use the site often in relationship to my knitting, but I also use it for travel advice and yarn shop hunting. Here’s how it works.
What is Ravelry?
Ravelry.com is a social networking site for knitters, crocheters, spinners, dyers – pretty much anyone involved in fiber arts. Started in 2007, the community now includes over 7,000,000 people.
Ravelry is a place to keep a record of projects that have been created. The site offers free and paid access to hundreds of thousands of patterns. There are forums for meeting people and exchanging ideas.
Opening a Ravelry account is free and easy – just sign up by creating a username and password. Creating a profile page helps you connect with other users. Your profile includes basic information -where you are from, how long you have been knitting or crocheting, and your favorite colors. Other more personal questions ask about your children, pets, and your birthday. All information is optional.
I’ve added information about my website to my profile page. Each week when I publish a post, it is automatically linked on my profile page.
My Ravelry Notebook
Once I signed up and completed my profile page, I had access to my Notebook. In the notebook are pages for Projects, Favorites, Friends, Messages, and more.
On the Projects page, I can enter the details – yarn, needle size, other notes – of the projects I am working on and ones that I have finished. I try to take pictures of my projects as I am working on them in addition to one or more pictures of the finished product. Last weekend, I spent some time taking pictures of my recently completed projects and will be adding them to my project page this week – I am a little behind.
When I get to know someone who knits, I add them as a friend – similar to Facebook. I can then go to their page to see the projects they are working on. I can also send messages to other Ravelers (Ravelry users) if I want to ask a question or just comment on one of their projects.
In the Favorites section of my notebook, I have a collection of designers, patterns, and projects that I like. When I am looking for a project to do, I always look in my favorites first. The favorites can be organized into groups – which is good since I have chosen over 500 favorites so far.
One of the most useful parts of Ravelry is the pattern section. There are many free patterns for beginners or people watching their budgets. When I started knitting, I didn’t want to spend a lot on patterns so I always looked for free ones. Now I use both. Since I am now more experienced, I know what I like and am willing to pay if need be.
The Ravelry search engine is great in that there are many ways to search for a pattern – type of article, fiber content, weight or yardage of fiber, difficulty, and more. If I have 600 yards of cotton fingering yarn and want to make a vest, I can search for patterns with these parameters.
Once you find a pattern you like, you can look at the details for what yarn is recommended and how much you will need. You can view the projects people have made from the pattern and read notes about their experiences. Sometimes knitters make changes to the pattern, such as a different edging or added rows – the changes are usually written in the notes. For one recent project, I didn’t love the designer’s color choice, but I found other knitter’s choices very appealing.
There are similar search pages available for yarns, people and groups.
Ravelry signs new users up for some basic forums including Patterns, Techniques, and Tools and Equipment. Users can then join groups and sign up for other forums. I am in groups hosted by designers I love, but I am also in some more general groups. It is also possible to access the forums by searching for your desired topic.
What Does Ravelry Have to do with Travel?
Although Ravelry is focused on fiber artists, there is also a lot of information on the site for travelers. I am not the only knitter who travels, and those that do love to post about their adventures.
There is a group and forum entitled Needlework News and Events that advertises fiber events throughout the world. If you are interested in traveling to a fiber festival, this forum will have information. Some events, like Vogue Knitting Live, have their own group and forum.
General Travel Forums
Travelry is the most active travel-related forum. Others are Travel Knitty and Traveling Stitches.
Most popular threads in Travelry include “No knitting needles on airplanes??”, “Your best travel trip”, “Pickpockets, road thieves and other security”, “Favorite shoes for travel”, and “Travel knitting Patterns”. As you can see by the titles, there is more than just knitting advice here.
In addition to this general advice, there are many threads about specific locations. Questions are submitted about what to do in a certain city, good children’s activities, driving advice, and yarn shops. People who have visited the city give advice and suggestions to the original poster. I’ve participated in threads about Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Normandy.
Location Specific Boards
Ravelry also has some location specific boards. I often look at the posts in the Twin Cities Ravelers (Minnesota).
By searching in the Groups tab, you can find groups and forums that relate to the area you plan to travel. Many of the groups are related to specific yarn shops. In 2016, I found a group started by the Petit Points yarn shop in Paris. By messaging in Ravelry, I was able to arrange to bring a group of people to the knit night in this shop. We had a great time visiting with French knitters – sharing projects and a light supper.
Searching for Yarn Shops
If you like to visit yarn shops when you are traveling like I do, there are a couple ways to find them. The first is to Google the area – either before you go, or using the map function on your phone when you arrive at the destination. I’ve used both of these options and have had some success.
Another way to find yarn shops, though, is to search for them on Ravelry before leaving home. Recently Ravelry has simplified this search. If you are a Ravelry user, you can search for shops through the Yarns tab. On the Yarns page there is a special box for searching for shops by name or by city and state or country.
On my recent trip to Las Vegas, I searched for shops and found four – plus one in Las Vegas, New Mexico since I didn’t add the state to my search. Each shop’s listing includes the website, if available, so it is easy to check out the shop before you travel.
I did check out the shops before I visited Las Vegas. I found Sin City Knits and was able to visit it. The shop carried some nice locally dyed yarn, in addition to nationally known brands.
A couple of the listed shops had closed. Since this is a new function, Ravelry seems to be struggling to keep up with changes. Even though the information may not be completely correct, it can still be helpful when looking for yarn shops. My advice is to use a combination of Ravelry and Google.
Enhancing Your Travel through Ravelry
Ravelry is not a travel website and shouldn’t be used as your only source for travel information. If you are a knitter, crocheter, spinner, or other fiber enthusiast, though, using Ravelry can help make you travel more interesting. Ravelry can be used to blend two hobbies, like it blends my knitting and travel.
If you are interested in fiber and haven’t joined Ravelry, do it soon. If you are also a traveler, read the travel forums or search for shops where you plan to travel. And always bring your knitting on vacation!