I think Ravelry's "advanced search" feature is awe-inspiring. There are over 300,000 knitting and crochet patterns on there, but with the advanced search filters, you can find exactly what you're looking for. The only problem is that it can be hard to replicate a search later, if you used several different filters and can't remember which combinations produced the results you wanted. Fortunately, you can save your searches, which preserves all the parameters you chose. I like using this feature for my ongoing stash-busting quest.
|Ravelry's advanced search page|
For example, this is my saved search for that purple worsted acrylic that I bought way too many skeins of. I've still got one skein left and I'd like to use it up! So first of all, I selected "worsted" from the Weight filter. I'd rather not spend more money on a stash-busting project, so I picked "free" from the Availability filter. And, it's hard to get inspired by a pattern with no photo, so I selected "yes" from the Has photo filter.
|Excluding colorwork from my search results|
Another thing I don't want to deal with when I'm trying to use up a skein is colorwork. Besides the fact that I haven't done any colorwork and am scared of it, I don't want to go buy new yarn just to use up old yarn (and I don't think I have any colors in my stash that would work with this particular one). So, I went to the Attributes filter, opened up the Colorwork sub-filter, and selected every type of colorwork listed there. Then I told the filter to exclude all of these, so (ideally) patterns with colorwork won't show up in my results.
Finally, I want to find patterns that will use up as much of my skein as possible, without calling for more yarn than I have. Since I went on my project-weighing spree, I know that I have about 273 yards left of this purple yarn. You can see that the Yardage filter has quite a few options, but a project that uses "0-150 yards" will leave me with leftovers, and "150-300 yards" could run over my maximum yardage.
|Entering a custom range in the Yardage filter|
Solution: I can enter my own range! I put in 250 to 270 yards, to be on the safe side. Now I don't have to pick through my results looking for patterns with an ideal yardage.
The last step is to save my search, since right now I'm just dreaming about future projects and not ready to commit. I like to come back to my saved searches every so often and check out which patterns are new or popular (which you can do by selecting different sort options from the drop-down menu by the search bar). I just give my search a name that I'll remember, and as Ravelry helpfully points out, that search is then available for me to look at again by clicking on the magnifying glass tab at the top of the page.
By the way, Ravelry has lots of help pages and guided tips, which are posted on the right side of the main Ravelry page. That's definitely where to go if you want to know more about searching, or any of the other life-changing conveniences that Ravelry offers.