I did start to write a post for this week’s Tutorial Tuesday, but I was in some serious lack of inspiration to finish it. Plus, I used up some of the precious tutorial writing time on getting a friend started on knitting her first hat! So that was Tutorial Tuesday Live!
For today’s post, however, it has occurred to me to speak about free patterns and how to find them, which is also kind of tutorially… So, Tutorial Thursday.
All knitters love free patterns, I think (oh, how much, we’d love free yarn… ;)) I was especially desperate to find them when I was starting out, as I didn’t have much idea of how to knit anything, but I also didn’t really feel like making an investment on something I wasn’t really sure whether I was ever going to finish. The thing, though, is that when you are new to knitting, you are also new to knitting resources, so it took me a while to figure out things beyond Google searches usually directing to personal blogs of truly generous craft and knitting enthusiasts. So here are some ideas of where to look, as well as some specific places I’ve found really worthwhile:
I’m so amazed at how social knitting is! Yes, it can be a lonely and meditative activity, curled up on your couch stitching away in silence. But for many, knitting is also about showing your talent to the world, sharing your experience and getting to know people. Many of us may not have real life knitter friends, but we do have online friends and acquaintances. Plus, there are incredible people who do put a lot of energy into sharing knowledge, techniques and creating a community.
For instance, I made my very first pompom beanie following the instructions from the Spanish blog Ohmothermine! and some other places I unfortunately didn’t bookmark, and can no longer remember. In any case, you can often Google a given technique or type of project and find detailed explanations.
My two Fringe Hatalong beanies
For bloggers and designers it is also common to set up so called Knitalong (KAL) events, where a given pattern or set of patterns is proposed to be knit together with the followers of the site. This can be really engaging as well as helpful, since you can ask for advice, share your advance, and ultimately, learn loads from other knitters. One such initiative is the Hatalong series proposed by the Fringe Association blog, while the Spanish Things to Knit blog invites readers for monthly challenges providing either the translated version of a free English language pattern or a pattern designed by the author.
If you are a knitter and you don’t have a Ravelry account, you’ve simply got to have one. Ravelry is knitters’ heaven and hell at the same time. Heaven because you can find literally anything – yarn info, patterns, designers, you name it – and hell because you just cannot get off it. It is relatively easy to spend/waste precious knitting hours browsing patterns and projects and just marvelling on other people’s creativity.
Finding free patterns on Ravelry is easy. Once you hop on the pattern tab and carry out a search, all you have to do is tick the box next to “Free” in the window with the heading “Availability” on the left side, et voilà. You’ll probably have more than enough to look at and to get lost. My recommendation is that, before settling on something, you should also checkout the projects that have been made of a given pattern. This may give you a more realistic picture of what you are in for, as well as some yarn and colour ideas, and tips on what may go wrong.
Websites of yarn brands, yarn shops and designers:
Yarn brands, yarn shops and designers have to promote themselves, and what better way to do this than to offer free goodies. My first “serious” knitting project was the Aidez sweater by Cirilia Rose offered for free by Berroco. I truly believe that had this not been a free pattern, I would have never embarked on the journey – thinking that there might not have been a point in buying an actual knitting pattern I quite possibly cannot make sense of. This adventure, however, taught me that knitting patterns are not written in undecipherable code, and that all is more easier than it seems – or at least worth trying.
Besides the Berroco pattern library, other good resources of free patterns are the Purl Soho website, which features modern and, for my delight, colourful designs, and the web of the Drops yarn brand, where patterns are published in multiple languages (even in Hungarian!). A brand new discovery of mine is Pickles yarn, who publish really cool free patterns in Norwegian. I think Google Translate might be able to solve the language barrier, although, they also seem to be selling English language patterns for a modest price of 2$.
Online knitting magazines
I’m not at all knowledgeable on this ground, but quite recently I’ve come across Knitty, an online knitting magazine that appears to be completely free. As a matter of fact, I found them while browsing colourwork sweaters on Ravelry, and found the Oranje Cardigan by Ann Weaver I’m quite keen on at the moment.
The Oranje cardigan. Photo by Ann Weaver.
So, I’ve told you about a bunch of free knitting goodness, and I’m sure this is not even a fraction of what you might already be familiar with. Some concluding remarks are in order though.
There is much out there that is free, and, as I’ve already said, this is pretty awesome not only because it’s free, but also because it can kind of give us a push to get out of our comfort zone and try the “impossible”. However, we should not forget that designers also have to make a living. Hence, while I obviously do appreciate free give-away patterns and KALs, I urge you to keep this in mind, and thank these wonderful people for their efforts by paying their work.
Another point is that I think as we grow as knitters, we do all realize that what we want is to knit, and to knit the exact thing we like, instead of a compromise. After all, knitting takes up much of our free time, so it’s best to do it wisely. In this sense investing in the right pattern(s) is an investment in our time and enjoyment.