Knitting on a shoe-string isn’t just about the yarn. There are heaps of sources for free patterns, including but not limited to Ravelry, Knitty and Garnstudio DROPS. In my experience it is much easier to visit a website that collates free patterns rather than to google individual free patterns.
Most knitters-on-the-net are already all over the Ravely. It’s a fantastic website that collates not only free patterns, but also existing paid patterns AND provides a launching pad for new designers trying to get started. There are forums that provide information and insight. It is completely free to use once you have created a profile. It also provides a way to catalogue your own resources. You can record your tools, yarns and pattern books. When you see a pattern you like it’s a simple clicky-clicky process to add it to a list of your favourite patterns so you can easily find it when you are ready to use it. Did I mention – FREE?
Knitty is a free magazine that pays it’s way through selected fibre-related advertisers. Also home to fantastic community, Knitty has an alternative, indie vibe and the patterns range in difficulty from absolute beginner to really quite tricky. Every issue contains brilliant articles ranging from “help me” to techniques to new products to thoughts on life and living. Archives are easily accessed by either garment type or issue number. Very awesome.
Garnstudio publishes their patterns in 14 languages. They are focused on providing very good quality yarn below market price and on designing beautiful garments in an international market place. Their philosophy can be found on their “about” page and is well worth reading. For our purposes, their website is full of absolutely free patterns with no sign-up required to access them. Obviously, their patterns are designed with their yarns in mind and there is plenty of advertising incorporated into the site and the patterns.
The patterns are set up as a webpage with an option to print and to share on Facebook, which is pretty nifty – I like the option to show your fibre-y friends what you are looking at. It’s easy enough to copy and paste into a word-processing document if you so desire (which I usually do because saving webpages is just a big old pain in the butt and the results are generally fairly crappy).
Their patterns can be on the ambiguous side and they aren’t always super-easy to follow. There is a lot of “work in st. st. for 14 inches decreasing evenly until 46 st. remain.” Fine for experienced knitters, but not always great for beginners. Read through before you start, make sure you are able to figure out what they are talking about or jump on the ravelry forums and ask for help (always include a link to the pattern and details of what section you need assistance with).
As with Garnstudio DROPS, Lion Brand are providing free patterns in order to promote the yarns they make. I can’t say it bothers me, because the patterns are still FREE and you can make a decision for yourself whether you want to buy their yarns or not. I must admit it does squick me out a little that they carry a Martha Stewart yarn range. There is just something creepy about that woman.
Back to the point! Lion Brand require that you create a username and password to access their patterns, you have to give them an email address but you do not have to subscribe to the newsletter. I have chosen to subscribe because they don’t bombard you with emails and it’s handy to see what their new patterns are like. It’s another case of patterns in webpage format – no option to download a .pdf (irritating). The vast majority of their patterns are super-simple and basic.
Let’s not forget the public library which often has both knitting books and magazines. If they don’t have what you want there is often a process by which you can request that they purchase it. It is best to keep in mind that although nobody would stop you if you were to photocopy a pattern out of one of the books, it is an ethical faux pas. Knitting it while you have the book on loan is one thing, but outright reproduction is just not classy at all.