For those of you who are already members of Ravelry, you do not need me to tell you how much time can slip by while poking around in that minefield of knitting and crocheting pleasure. For those of you who are not members, or haven't a clue what I am talking about, Ravelry is an online knitting and crocheting community; a social networking site for knitters, so to speak. Currently, one needs to sign up on the waiting list for an invitation to sign up, which happens in waves of up to 100 people per week. It's worth the wait.
If you are on Ravelry and would like to look me up, my Ravelry name is TheKneedler (no spaces between words).
I must admit to not having gotten into it too deeply when I first joined last July. I'm not really big on reading lots of online forums and list serves where people carry on online conversations of sorts about various topics, but there is certainly plenty of scope to do this on Ravelry if one wishes to do so. I have definitely enjoyed the access to lots of patterns and to see what people were using certain yarns for. But only since my Bodega Bay retreat in March have I fully succumbed to Ravelry's charms.
What changed? Well, after starting my Hex Coat project at Bodega Bay, I decided in a moment of time to kill to look on Ravelry to see what other people had done with that pattern. There were dozens of versions made in all sorts of yarns, complete with pictures of the finished coat; notes from the knitter as to what they liked, didn't like, would change, etc.; and most important of all to me right then, more close-up pictures of the coat front than the pattern book provided so that at last I could really see what those few stitches along the front edge should have looked like. (For a complete description of this unpleasant topic, see this post.) The hex Coat is coming along very nicely now, by the way.
The Aha! moment hit me, and I realized in a moment that I had a great untapped resource at my fingertips - I could connect with knitters from all over the planet (Ravelry has many international members) without even having to leave home. I can have a lot of contact with other people through the groups, forums, friends, etc., that are available, or I can remain my solitary self and use Ravelry only for my own organizing purposes. I can use it however I want.
As a result I have spent considerable time in recent weeks completing an inventory of my yarn collection (otherwise known as a stash) on Ravelry. I take photos of my yarn; upload them into flickr ( a requirement for posting pictures onto Ravelry) and then enter them one by one into Ravelry. I can enter in what the yarn is; where I bought it; how much I have in what colours, and any notes I want to include. Once this is done, I can then see how many other people on Ravelry have the same yarn stashed, how many projects are being knit with it, what they are doing with it, etc. I can differentiate my handspun from millspun yarns, and keep track of where it's stored.
The whole inventory can be viewed as thumbnail pictures, a list, or even be imported into an excel spreadsheet. I can also inventory projects I am working on, as well as create a queue of projects that I would like to do someday. To someone who loves to organize stuff, this is just a little piece of heaven.
I must admit to thinking that my stash didn't consist of very much stuff, but now that it is completed (at last!) I find that I own 77 balls of yarn that I deemed significant enough to bother with inventorying (I didn't include partial balls, scraps, or odds and ends of handspun). For any of you out there who gasped at that number, let me put it into perspective. My knitting buddy MmmYarn told me recently that she has 500 balls. She's even calculated how many miles of yarn that is, and while I can't recall the number she gave me, rest assured that it was very, very, impressive.
I think this means I need to go buy more yarn.