A Pattern for Success

Have you ever had a fleeting memory of a knitting, crochet or sewing pattern that you loved only to have trouble putting your hands on it? Or even worse, kept every pattern that you have collected or been given because you just might need it sometime in the future? I have first-hand experience with both challenges. The result is that I had patterns stuck everywhere – scattered about in paper form, in books, and in files on my computer. Many were stuffed into my knitting totes or weird places. Anxious to start on my next project, I sometimes jammed them onto a bookshelf between knitting books or in a binder that I had optimistically labeled patterns. Unfortunately, my binder has pockets in the front and back, so it has been just too easy to stuff patterns in rather than punch holes and actually put them into some kind of order.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to put my hands on a pattern and was confronted with a mess of my own making. It was a snowy Sunday afternoon, and since the Broncos were not playing, I decided to take the bull by the horns and get organized. The first step is always the hardest! I pulled patterns off the shelf, found my binder and hole punch, and got to work.

patterns in binder

It really didn’t take as long as I had anticipated to sort through the loose patterns. There were quite a few duplicates, so I made sure to keep the ones on which I had made notes. It was quick work to put them in order—mittens/gloves, shawls, scarves, socks/slippers, sweaters, etc. I also realized that I had lost interest in several of the “might-want-to-knit patterns.” I reminded myself to be realistic if my tastes had changed or if I knew I only had the pattern because it was free. These I happily tossed.

I was on a roll! Next, I decided to attack the digital knitting patterns in the “knitting folder” on my computer. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment, but I was tired of spending time weeding through patterns in my folder. So, I created subfolders that mirrored the sections I had in my binder — hats, mittens/gloves, shawls, scarves, socks/slippers, sweaters, and household. This took some time, as I had to preview them and delete the ones I really didn’t want. It is hard to delete or toss patterns, but it had to be done. As you can see in the before and after pictures, patterns are going to be a lot easier to find.

digital patterns before organizing
digital folders after organizing

Finally, I took on my Ravelry Library. If you do not have a Ravelry account, I urge you to get one at www.ravelry.com. It is free and private — no spam email. You can keep track of purchased patterns and projects and join a forum of like-minded knitters, such as the one The Stitchin’ Den hosts. (I will cover the ins-and-outs of Ravelry another time.) Suffice it to say, my library and my favorites list needed a good clean up. This took a wee bit of time, but well worth the effort.

ravelry library organization

What was the result of all of this effort? Well, I have a better idea of what patterns I have and where I have stashed them. My shelves (both physical and digital) are clean and organized. Better still, I have rediscovered patterns that I still want to knit. I can also see how my tastes and skill level have changed.

These patterns are like a road map of my knitting interests: cables, fair isle, fingerless mitts, hats for my grandkids, and sweaters for my husband. Going through all my patterns was fun and brought back many memories of the projects I enjoyed and the ones that I did not (patterns that I previously gave up on, but want to try it again.) It also reminded me that knitting is a challenge that requires me to attend and follow directions even when they don’t seem to make sense. Like having the right tools, organizing my patterns helps me express my creativity, experiment with colors and textures, and express my caring for others through my knitting.