About Ravelry – API connection

This post is the first of a series investigating the data found on ravelry.com using the R programming language and the Ravelry API. Ravelry is a website functionning as a database, organisationnal tool, and social network for knitting and fiber crafts enthusiasts.

A lot of user-created content is accessible via the Ravelry API. Ravelry hosts a collection of about 300,000 knitting patterns; there are over 9 million knitting projects pages created by the 5 million users, with about 7,000 projects and 65000 forum posts added per day (more Ravelry facts from 2014 here).

The organizational tool is the most relevant for data mining, as it holds a lot of information about patterns, projects, and tools. Each user has a public notebook consisting of their craft projects, their yarn stash, their “favorites” (bookmarks) and other features. Project entries in the notebook have attributes like the name of the pattern, the notes taken by the user, the yarns and needles used … Stash entries have attributes like the name of the company producing the yarn, the color family, the user rating, the weight and so on.


Screenshot of the notebook page on Ravelry, with the list of projects made by the user.


Pattern page: includes the designer’s name, the pattern category, the recommended yarns, pictures … (“Sockhead hat” by Kelly McClure)


Yarn stash entry: includes link to yarn in the database, yarn weight, color family … One stash entry can represent several skeins of the same yarn.


Project entry: includes name of the project, link to pattern, needle (or hook for crochet) and yarn, user’s notes … (“Lorenz Manifold” by alicialight)

The R code below configures the oauth access to the API using the httr library. Your user access key and secret key provided by Ravelry are assumed to be in the user_rav.txt file in the working directory.


# user_rav.txt contains API username and password 
credentials <- readLines("user_rav.txt")
names(credentials) <- c("user","access_key","secret_key")

OpenConnection <- function(credentials){
  # Args: login info for the Ravelry API
  # Returns oauth token
  # Open connection to Ravelry API and return token
  reqURL <- "https://www.ravelry.com/oauth/request_token"
  accessURL <- "https://www.ravelry.com/oauth/access_token"
  authURL <- "https://www.ravelry.com/oauth/authorize"
  ravelry.app <- oauth_app("ravelry", key=credentials["access_key"], 
  ravelry.urls <- oauth_endpoint(reqURL, authURL, accessURL)
  return(oauth1.0_token(ravelry.urls, ravelry.app))

# Quick test of API connection by getting connected user info
TestConnection <- function(ravelry.token) {
  # Arg: API token
  # Returns name of the user connected with this token
  test <- GET("https://api.ravelry.com/current_user.json", 

ravelry.token <- OpenConnection(credentials)

Once the connection is approved, this command should query and show your user name:

userinfo <- GET("https://api.ravelry.com/current_user.json",

In the next post we will get to the real data !

2 thoughts on “About Ravelry – API connection

  1. Pingback: Knitting data 2: Tags in popular projects | datasock

  2. Pingback: Pattern launch study | datasock

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