As I have just begun to knit, I have looked for “free knitting patterns” to get a feel for stitches, directions and charts. Why would I want to spend money on a pattern that I can’t comprehend and knit once it is downloaded? For this reason a free pattern sounds sensible. But there is a caveat. “Free” means anyone can write up a pattern and post it “for free” without feeling obligated to anyone in any way.
Sometimes designers who sell beautiful patterns will also offer free patterns, and those are worth viewing and trying. A designer is hoping you will view more than the free stuff and possibly buy from her / him at a later time. It’s all about advertising and promoting when you run a business, and this is good business sense. My very first shawl was free from a designer who offered it with the stipulation that I sign up for her e-mails. The shawl was good practice for me, with wonderful directions, it and brought her a follower. Below is the Spindrift Shawl (a free pattern and my first shawl knit) by Helen Stewart.
The “free patterns” I warn you about are from random people who have come up with something they want to share, for whatever reason. It could be that they think the item is needed, or that it is really too simple to charge money for, or they might want clicks to their blog. I don’t know. Unlike real knitwear designers they don’t have “test knitters” or check to see if their pattern directions are really correct.
That is not to say that many free patterns work out just fine. But often something will be missing and the pattern doesn’t make sense. You might be halfway through the knit before this becomes apparent!
This just happened to me. I was trying to knit a free baby bib as a quick little item. The knitting began at the bottom of the bib and by the time I reached the top my troubles began. In other words, I was nearly done! The pattern totally got off track and I couldn’t figure it out. I know how to do a “wrap and turn” and the directions for doing that were incorrect. It was downhill from there, and I ended up ripping out the project. When I checked the Ravelry page comments for the bib pattern, I saw that many other knitters had had the same problem with the directions at the same place in the pattern.
The Flip Flop Socks pattern I found online used was pretty easy to follow and turned out okay for a free pattern.
When Is It Wise To Try A Free Pattern?
For beginner knitters, using a free pattern can be very helpful. Usually they are simple patterns that give us good practice and cost nothing but the yarn.
- Experienced knitters can probably figure anything out, so even if a free pattern’s directions are confusing, someone with experience can probably figure out what is intended. I’m not that experienced yet.
- Check for other patterns the person offers, if any. If they are a good designer who sells patterns also, it’s probably a safe bet their free offers are legit.
- If the pattern looks simple enough and you only need the cast-on number, gauge, or other information to take off and do it on your own, by all means use it.
Where Can I Find This Information?
If you have not made an account at Ravelry, you might want to. Recently I’ve taken issue with Ravelry as they have denigrated all Trump supporters in a statement on their home page. Because of this, I do not promote Ravelry, but I am dependent on the site, for now, because of my interest in knitting and finding patterns. It is simply the place to go.
Once you are logged in, search the site under “patterns” (in the top bar). From there you can choose “knitting” or “crochet” and “free”. On the left hand side there are filters for whatever you are looking for. If you become a member of the site, you can store your favorite patterns in a “library”.
If you don’t want to become a Ravelry member, try Pinterest for patterns of all types.
One very good place to start, if you want clear knitting directions, often with video tutorials, is Purl Soho. They sell beautiful yarn, and offer many types of patterns for free! From simple hats and housewares, to sweaters and ponchos, this is an awesome site for free designs and helpful insights.
Churchmouse Yarns also has a page of free patterns, as do some of the other larger yarn shops online.