I keep my knitting patterns in a few physical forms. In the ‘olden days’ before I discovered Ravelry, I printed the patterns I intended to knit on my home computer. They would be carefully stored in page protectors and then organized into various binders… sweaters, shawls and scarfs, socks, hats, miscellaneous toys and trinkets.
My book collection is quite healthy and large. Some pages are flagged with sticky notes for future reference and many patterns I am really keen on knitting are photocopied and tucked back into the book’s pages. I knit everywhere – on the bus, on the treadmill – and carrying books with me is not a good idea. I find them heavy, awkward and they get damaged easily. However, if you have purchased a book you are allowed to photocopy the patterns for personal use. I always make a copy of my current pattern so I can carry it around with me.
I have many magazines in my library as well. I know some knitters will rip out their favorite patterns and recycle the rest of the magazine when their collection becomes too large, but have not yet had the heart to do that. I still find inspiration browsing old articles and seeing the advertisements for new fibre and tools. If I would like to knit something from a magazine, I always photocopy the pattern first so I won’t destroy the original.
One of the reasons I copy my patterns is so I can record notes on these versions as I use them. Before I start a pattern, I will highlight the instructions that refer to my particular size and take note of any ‘tricky bits’ that might fool me later. As I knit, I will check off the parts of the pattern I have already completed. I will create little ‘ticks’ to indicate how many repeats I have finished. And when I am done, sometimes I will have the foresight to enter this information into my Ravelry project notes so I have an online record of any alterations I have made. Since I love to mark up my patterns, I almost never view them as .pdfs on my tablet, even though I have the technology to do so.
How do I keep organized while I am working on new designs? I keep everything in big plastic pouches. They are the same dimensions as a regular sheet of paper, so they fit neatly into a filing cabinet. Their flexible material and size makes it possible to store swatches and small knitted samples in with my handwritten notes. I label each pouch with the name and date and slide them away until I am ready for them.
When I have an entire collection of patterns I would like to keep together, I will invest in buying a cute little portfolio of clear plastic pages. I fill it up with high quality prints and treat it as a book I can browse though. I recently made one of my own self-published designs; it’s really nice to have something physical to flip through.
These days, I find most of my patterns online. I browse Ravelry.com constantly, noting new favorite designers and finding potential patterns I would like to knit. Anything that inspires me becomes a ‘favorite’ and patterns I actually intend on knitting join my ‘queue’. I can browse through my friend’s favorites and queues as well if I am looking for new inspiration. When I purchase a pattern as an online download I know I will always have access to it – if I need to refer to it on the bus or at work, it’s only a mouse click away. If I discover a pattern I like on a different website, instead of creating a traditional bookmark in my browser, I take the extra step of locating it on Ravelry so that I have all my favorite online patterns saved to one convenient, accessible location.
Keeping track of your patterns is so important – having fresh photos and designs at my fingertips keeps me enthused and inspired to work on my current project. If I can just free up this pair of needles, than I can cast on something else…!