How to use Google to Find Cool Stuff
It can get quite frustrating for regular readers of this community to find the same old requests and questions posted over and over again, especially when most of them can be resolved through the use of a decent search engine like Google. Your particular question may have been asked, answered and debated over a dozen times before, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel when it's already been preserved in the digital ether.
Before getting a bit trigger-happy and posting your question on knitting, try searching online first. If you're unsure of how to go about this, read this nifty Google primer to get acquainted with the basics of crafting your query. Using special characters like +, - or quotation marks can help you fine-tune your query further. Quotation marks are especially helpful when you want to search an entire phrase like "cabled sweater" and don't want to get a hundred results containing separate instances of "cabled" and "sweater" out of the context you want.
E.g. query: I want to knit a shrug! Anyone know where I can find a free
Answer: Type "shrug" + "free pattern" into the Google search box and voila! If a search for a free pattern you want yields no results, it's a good bet that it doesn't exist and you may have to turn to physical matter like books and magazines.
Want to figure out how many yards of yarn you've salvaged from that sweater from Goodwill? Try searching for "measuring yarn" or "estimating yarn", or even "yardage recycled sweater". Don't know why your stockinette curls? Search for "stockinette curl". Try different phrases! Mix and match! Use quotation marks or go commando!
Recently, I wanted to try making this celebrity look-a-like shawl (okay, it's a copy of the one Jessica Simpson wore on MTV's Newlyweds). The yarn the pattern called for, Noro's Hana Silk, is very pricey, to say the least. I wanted to find out if there was a cheaper alternative. Before I ran to the knitters on this wonderful community for suggestions, I did a quick search on Google for "similar to hana silk" (without the quotation marks, because that exact phrase yielded no results). Just as I thought, I found that the question had been asked before, in a crochet community and even in our own knitting board.
So embrace the search engine goodness, even if you think your question hasn't been covered before. If we can create and post to a LiveJournal, a simple Google search string shouldn't be beyond us. It hardly takes any time at all, in most cases, and you'll be doing curmudgeons like me a huge favor by showing that you've done at least the basic legwork yourself before you ask for help.