1. Choose one type of knitted object (socks, cardigans, dishcloths—whatever suits your fancy), then select “free.” Odds are, you’ll wind up with 20-60 pages of patterns that can all be added to your queue without bringing its total price up at all. (Do not, however, add all 20-60 pages worth; this would demonstrate a lack of discernment.)
2. Look at the “Designers Show Us Your Stuff” topic threads that appear on many of the Ravelry forums (shawl knitters, lace knitters, fingerless glove fanatics, etc).
3. Go to your “friends” page. Pick someone. Spy on her queue and her projects. Be a copy-cat.
4. Find the forum for fans of a particular yarn you have that you haven’t been able to figure out how to use. Start a “what would you do with ____ yards of____?” thread.
5. Look at the “finished objects” section in 12 Shawls in 2012. Favorite shawls seem to come and go in waves, and you’ll see the same pattern worked in multiple colors (and probably weights).
6. Do a pattern search using “free” and specifying a particular amount of yarn. This is good when you want to be guaranteed a project that can be done quickly—just limit your search to patterns calling for, say, 100-120 yards. Limit by yarn weight as well, if you want.
1. Search your existing queue using tags. (You do tag patterns as you queue them, don’t you?) For example, pull out just “cardigans” or just “fingering” or just “mom” or just “colorwork.” Pair like patterns with like, then delete semi-duplicates until only the best of each kind remain.
2. Go to “Patterns,” click on “in my queue” and then on a particular yarn weight. Again, prune semi-duplicates. Or ask yourself, “Given the other lovely things here on this one page, how likely am I really to knit _____?”
3. This isn’t really a shrinking thing, but if you’ve queued a pattern because you like a single design element, add the tag “no,” then in the notes section remind yourself what one bit of the piece you like.
4. Not really sure you’ll ever use a pattern—but it’s free and you can’t resist? Add it to your library, but not to your queue. Every so often compare your library and queue and see if patterns need to be moved between both.
5. Click the “love” button, when you suspect it’s a particular project, and not the pattern itself, that’s caught your eye. Like your library, your favorites can be browsed occasionally without eating up queue space.
6. Be honest. If you’re like me, you can only bear so much stockinette. Do a brutal purge of everything that’s more than 75% stockinette (or lace or mosaic stitch or whatever it is that can look pretty, but that you really don’t enjoy).
I can testify to using these techniques myself, and I’ve kept my queue to a
perfectly reasonable, mere, not-too-insane 543 items and 19 pages.