Saturday 29 December 2012

Ravelry's Top Five Knitting Patterns

Ravelry, a community website for knitters and crocheters, has among its countless wonderful features ways search among and to filter its pattern database. A member can look at patterns rated according to which is "most popular" or which has or is being used for the "most projects" among Ravelry members. Ravelry seems to determine a project's "popularity" according to the total of how many projects, blog posts, forum posts, and comments it has.

I'd say the number of projects a pattern is used for is a better indicator of its real popularity than the amount of buzz there is about it. It's easy to admire a pattern, and to post or comment about it, but the real test of how much you love a pattern is whether you're willing to commit to the time and effort and cost of making it. Ravelry's "most popular" pattern has been used for, as of this writing, 8,047 projects among Ravelry members, while Ravelry's pattern that is most used for projects has 19,986 project pages listed, so you can see there is a divide between the two metrics.

Let's have a look at the current top five most-used knitting patterns on Ravelry.

Clapotis, a scarf pattern, is the knitting pattern that is in the most projects on Ravelry, 19,986 to be exact. I can see why. It is a nice piece. But I think equal weight should be given to the fact that a) it's a Knitty pattern and therefore free, and b) it's quick and easy to knit up, given that it uses an Aran yarn. Most of the most-used patterns on Ravelry are smaller items such as accessories and baby clothes. When one filters the patterns by "most projects", there's only one adult-sized sweater among the 36 items on the first page of results.

This is the second most-used pattern on Ravelry, with 19,241 projects, and it's... a pair of fingerless gloves, entitled Fetching. Well, someone had to be making them, given how often fingerless glove patterns appear in knitting magazines. I must admit they are rather cute, even, well, fetching. They are another Knitty pattern, and a big part of their appeal is that they can be made from a single ball of yarn.

The third most-used pattern, with 18,822 projects, is this Baby Surprise Jacket, which is an Elizabeth Zimmermann design. When I look at the pictures of it, I think I might have guessed who the designer was without being told. Zimmermann could design a piece using nothing but the garter stitch and make it look like a design rather than a beginner project. This is not something I see often.

The fourth-most knitted pattern on Ravelry is this sock pattern, entitled Monkey, with 16,139 projects. I'm not sure I understand why. This is not to say I don't like the pattern, because it is perfectly attractive and well-designed, but I've got another sock pattern among my Ravelry favourites that I like just as well, and it only has 13 projects. Perhaps this sock pattern just got better distribution and publicity. It's appeared in Knit. Sock. Love., appeared on Knitting Daily TV, and is a Knitty pattern. Oh, and it's free, whereas the sock pattern in my favourites is not.

This headband pattern, called Calorimetry, is the fifth-most knitted pattern on Ravelry, with 15,313 projects. At first glance I was going to be rather negative about it, but the more I looked at it, the more good points I saw in it. It's a simple-looking piece, but a lot of care and thought has gone into the design. Unlike pretty much every other headband I've ever seen, it's shaped to cover the top of the head and the ears where warmth is needed, and yet go under a woman's ponytail, bun, or fall of hair. It seems to be reasonably flattering. It is a Knitty pattern and therefore free, and can be made with one ball of yarn. One caveat, though. I'd knit it in a yarn that is varied in colour rather than a solid tone, as that will help hide the shaping, which as you can see from the third picture can look a little rough.


  1. I humbly offer my edits to Calorimetry here:

    I found that the pattern as written was just too big and shapeless (even over a full head of dreadlocks!), and CO 80 with fewer repeats works much better.

  2. I have made three of these! I loved doing the Baby Surprise Jacket despite being not so much a fan of garter stitch. It was super fun to see how it shaped up. Clapotis is indeed easy and quick and I like the result. And I have done, I think, three Calorimetries so far, and my most recent one got lost, so I need to do another soon. I do find that they stretch, but I also didn't swatch or even measure gauge, and I wasn't using the recommended yarn, so I just safety-pinned the flaps in the right places for my head, and that worked well enough.

  3. i need revelry patterns for shrouds/capelets help

  4. You'll need to go on Ravelry and search for the patterns you want; I'm not affiliated with Ravelry and I don't offer patterns on this site.

  5. I made a Calorimetry and I didn't particularly care for it on my head, but it makes a very nice tie-back for the kitchen curtain. Terrible I know, but functional.

    I think Monkey and Clapotis gained a lot of traction because they were Knitty patterns that pre-date Ravelry. Back In The Day, it used to be so hard to find patterns that were modern, interesting, and free. Then you get the Network Effect, where the popularity of a pattern tends to snowball. (I'm trying so hard not to use the word "viral.")

    I'm convinced that the photo styling was a huge part of Clapotis' success as well. Who doesn't want to be that urbane, Parisian, and adorable?

  6. Thank you for pointing me in the direction of Calorimetry - Daughter Dearest does not have hair, she has a MANE of densely curly hair, and most beanies don't fit, or look silly, and my lovely Vintage Turban wrap around suits me, but wouldn't stand a chance on her. The Calorimetry should push all the buttons, but I will re-jig the pattern for a lighter weight wool.

  7. You have an amazing blog! So much information and pointing us all in the direction we need to go to knit the project. Thank you!
    On another note, I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Zimmermann (two n's) and first misspelled her last name when I found her work.

  8. Thank you! Love your blog and the background pic is just adorable! Do you have a Ravelry account to show your creations? would love to connect there. I'm Natashenka on Ravelry. Thanks again for your fantastic blog. :-D

  9. I'm OrangeSwan on Ravelry, Natalia.