Knitting on a budget: Finding patterns
Knitting can feel like a ridiculously expensive hobby. I began knitting seriously when I was a uni student with limited disposable income, so I quickly learned that there are ways you can make knitting friendlier to your wallet. In this blog post series on knitting on a budget, I’m going to share what I learned in those early uni days and some extra tips I’ve picked up along the way.
In the final post on my series about knitting on a budget, we’re going to cover patterns. “But Kat,” I hear you say, “don’t you sell patterns?” Well, yes - but while I appreciate the time and skill it takes designers to craft a beautiful pattern and I’m happy to pay them for their time, I understand that everyone doesn’t always have the means to do so (and I also like getting a good deal on patterns once in a while). So here are my top tips for finding free and affordable patterns!
Use Ravelry’s Free Filter
If you don’t already have a Ravelry account, stop reading this and go sign up. While Ravelry has lots of community aspects like forums and project sharing, one of its main functions is to serve as the internet’s directory of knitting and crochet patterns. It also has a dazzling array of filters you can use to narrow down your search, one of which allows you to search only for patterns that are free. To use it is pretty straightforward:
Go to the patterns tab
Scroll down to the “Availability” section in the left sidebar
If you’re more of a visual person you can watch the step-by-step video below, otherwise the easiest way to jump to the free filter is to just bookmark this link which will take you straight to the search page with the free filter already applied. Once you’ve got the filter checked, you can add whatever extra search filters or search words you’d like and you’ll only be shown free patterns.
go to your local library
Growing up I was a voracious reader so I always had a library card. After I moved out of home in my early twenties, though, I never really thought to go to the library in the different places I lived. A few months ago I discovered that the library culture in the area I live in is surprisingly active, so I signed up and I now have a library card for the first time in years. It turns out that amongst their wide selection of non-fiction books, they have a bunch of knitting books! Doing a search for “knitting patterns“ at my local library brings up books full of patterns from socks to dog jumpers. If you don’t already have a library card go sign up at your local library - you’ll be surprised at the gems you can find there.
Sign up to designers’ newsletterS
In my post about buying yarn on a budget I covered ways to find sales and discounts by leveraging indie dyers’ Instagram accounts and newsletters, and a lot of the info is applicable to indie designers. One of the things I will call out is that while dyers and bigger yarn stores tend to give out discount codes for signing up to their newsletters, quite a few indie designers will send you a free pattern as a bonus for signing up. For example, if you sign up to my newsletter you’ll get a free copy of my Basketseed Beanie sent right to your inbox.
Apply to test knit
If you don’t already know about test knitting, it’s when designers release the final draft version of a pattern to a small group of knitters (their testers) before the release. This is so the testers can try the pattern out and make sure it’s correct and easy to follow. Test knitting does come with some caveats. You have to be very detail oriented so you can catch any mistakes in the pattern, and you have to be communicative with the designer to give them feedback about how the general experience of knitting the item is. If you’re willing to do that, there are a lot of upsides to test knitting. In most cases you’ll receive the final pattern for free when it’s released, along with another bonus from the designer (like a discount code or one of their other patterns for free). Some designers also offer yarn support for their test knitters.
If you’re interested in test knitting for me, I ask people to sign up as testers via my newsletter. If you’d like to find other designers to test for, you have a couple of options:
A lot of designers announce on Instagram or Facebook when they have new patterns that need testing, so follow your favourites there.
Check out the Ravelry forums - there are whole groups dedicated to connecting designers with potential testers. The most popular is The Testing Pool, but if you search you’ll be able to find others.
Just ask! Designers handle their test knits differently so if you have someone you’re really keen to test for reach out to them and ask how to sign up. I know it can be scary to talk to someone you don’t know, but I promise for the most part we’re friendly and don’t bite.
Sign up to be a test knitter on Yarnpond. I’ll admit that I haven’t used Yarnpond myself yet, but I’ve heard really good things about it from the designers I know who’ve used it, and it’s free to sign up as a test knitter.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on knitting on a budget, and have picked up some tips. If you have any other ways that you save money while knitting, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!